Movies for Foodies
by Cezanne Colvin
Stars: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson
Synopsis: A head chef quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.
Small business owners know the drill: a few bad Yelp reviews can truly feel like the end of the world. Jon Favreau plays Carl, a chef who has a public meltdown on Twitter after receiving a scathing review from a critic. He decides to quit his job and reconnect with his love of food by driving a food truck across the country making Cuban sandwiches. This movie tickled the all-American idealist slumbering inside of me that wants to believe that if I ever wanted to explore a risky business venture, everything would come together due to my perseverance and really loyal, good-looking friends.
Stars: Bo Barrett, Shayn Bjornholm, Dave Cauble
Synopsis: Four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world.
Have you ever desperately scanned a wine list, looking for one you can possibly get away with pronouncing if you mumble a little bit, only to end up either pointing to a name when you order or ultimately opting for a Yuengling? What about going to a wine tasting and actually not picking up on the “obvious cherry finish” even a little bit? This is a story about people that neither of these situations ever happens to. See, they’re studying to be Master Sommeliers (also known as wine experts). To earn the title, they have to pass an exam that only 230 people in the world have ever passed. No big deal. This is their story.
Julie & Julia
Rated: PG 13
Stars: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina
Synopsis: Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book.
Julie Powell’s soul is rapidly depleting due to her miserable job, something that most of us can relate to (except for me, because I love my job). She decides to do something “fun”: cook every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and document her progress online. In another timeline, Julia Child, played by the dazzling Meryl Streep, is attending Le Cordon Bleu. There are trials. There are tribulations. There are a lot of meals that 10 out of 10 cardiovascular surgeons would not recommend. It’s a good one.
Rated: PG 13
Stars: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto
Synopsis: Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south. She meets a newcomer to her town and falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness.
Jenna is a small-town diner waitress who’s a talented baker of pies with one wish in life: to leave her husband, a paradoxically dopey and psychotic bully named Earl. Then she gets pregnant. (Earl’s reaction, by the way, is to make her promise not to love the baby more than she loves him.) With a little help from her friends and her baking talent, she manages to transform her destiny. This film would be obnoxiously saccharine if not for the fact that it’s just so humble and likable that you can’t help but, well, like it.
Genre: Animated Fantasy/Drama
Stars: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Will Arnett
Synopsis: Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef, but his family reminds him of one major hurdle: He’s a rat.
Everyone loves an underdog, especially when he’s talented, fuzzy, and expertly engineered by Pixar animators to be impossibly lovable. Remy is a rat with exquisite senses and a highly refined palate who wants to be a chef. He ends up in the perilous predicament of being a rat in a kitchen at a fine dining restaurant in Paris, but is eventually able to cook by hiding in the garbage boy Linguini’s hat and directing his movements as if he were a puppet. (I know, but now isn’t the time to talk about realism.) I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me—it’s the perfect movie for when you just want to smile.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Stars: Gene Wilder, Peter Ostrum, Jack Albertson
Synopsis: The last of five coveted “golden tickets” falls into the hands of a sweet but very poor boy. He and his grandpa then get a tour of the strangest chocolate factory in the world. The owner leads five young winners on a thrilling and often dangerous tour of his factory.
Not to be mistaken for the 2005 Tim Burton remake, the original film is as delightfully eerie as it is whimsical, whisking us away to a fantasy world where, sure, wallpaper is flavored and no one calls Nanny 911 on histrionic brats like Veruca Salt. It speaks to our inner child, the one that eyes up candy in drugstore checkout aisles, and reassures us that if we do the right thing, one day we’ll live in edible houses (or whatever—it’s a metaphor).
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Stars: Jiro Ono, Masushiro Yamamoto, Yoshikazu Ono
Synopsis: A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his renowned Tokyo restaurant, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.
Watching this documentary was like looking into a reflection pool and realizing that not only will I never be as good at anything as Jiro Ono is at making sushi, but also that I’m somewhat undisciplined (they massage an octopus for half an hour; I often get impatient waiting for the toaster). His restaurant has only 10 seats and it has earned the three coveted Michelin stars, which is fascinating in itself, but the undertone of the film explores the theme of work and happiness—Jiro does little else but work and constantly strive for perfection, but is that enough of a purpose in life? For him, perhaps it is.
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen
Synopsis: Struggling writer and wino Miles takes his engaged friend on a trip to wine country for a last single-guy bonding experience. While Miles wants to relax and enjoy the wine, Jack is in search of a fling before his wedding.
If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, there are worse backdrops for it than the pastoral valley of Napa, where some of the world’s best Cabernets (but no Merlots—an inside joke you’ll soon understand) are just an Uber ride away. What could have easily been a one-dimensional story about self-indulgent snobs—who casually use adjectives like “quaffable” and view sex as a panacea—is instead a film as hilarious as it is humane and, ultimately, has the same depth of flavor as Miles’ beloved Pinot Noir.