Top 10 Food Movies: Eat, Drink, Watch

Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:40 am
full up after Thanksgiving?
all the joy of food, none of the calories

Top 10 Food Movies: Eat, Drink, Watch
By Katherine Sacks in Food in Movies, Top 10 lists
Tue., Dec. 1 2009 @ 1:30PM

Whether it's dinner and a movie or popcorn to munch on during the previews, your stomach is often tied to the cinematic experience. From the comic relief of Robin Williams cooking dinner dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire to Meg Ryan moaning over apple pie in When Harry met Sally, food can shape the story (Julie & Julia) or provide essential character development (Goodfellas). Food on screen is emotional, sensual, and often ridiculous, but it keeps us coming back to fill our plate with more.

When directors focus their films on cuisine, what takes the film from a movie with a food scene to a good food movie? Is it passion for cuisine, erotic scenes stretching the limitations of food, or a ridiculous use of food itself? In our opinion, a food movie may need great direction and a riveting story line, but what is really important are great food scenes: passionate, visual, sometimes absurd. So here are 10 of the best of the food film world.

​10. Delicatessen
Would you like a slice of maintenance man with your dinner tonight? In Jean-Pierre Jeunet's spin off of Sweeney Todd, grain is currency and meat is scarce(resulting in a future menu of Mr. Maintenance man). It may not rivet you with scenes of food or markets, and you probably won't finish the movie hungry, but this French black comedy wins points for it's scary portrayal of the could-be food system. Complete with butcher sessions and a visit from the Troglodistes, a group of underground vegetarian-rebels.

9. Simply Irresistible
Okay, while the less than inspired acting and lagging storyline would place this on few top ten film lists, Simply Irresistible has the over-the-top food scenes to make up for lack of fine cinematic glory. Loosely based on the novel Like Water for Chocolate, this is the story of Amanda, bitten by a magic crab that gives her cooking powers. Ridiculous enough? How about tear-causing soup, arousal-inducing eclairs, and clouds of perfumed smoke? Sarah Michelle Geller may not win an Oscar for this performance (who's counting anyway?), but the story is firmly based in the magic of food.

8. Big Night
Do you think it's alright to eat risotto alongside a plate of spaghetti and meatballs? The horror! If so, you'd learn a thing or two from watching Big Night, a movie doused in Italian reverence for food. The story is of two immigrant brothers, Primo, the prideful chef, and Secondo, the smooth-talking front man, who struggle to run a real Italian restaurant. Their Big Night comes with the chance to cook for famous singer Louis Primo, and they put everything into it, money, passion, themselves. Not to be missed are cooking scenes of the Italian dish timpano and Stanley Tucci with a hilarious Italian accent.

Rat and cook working together in Ratatouille.
​7. Ratatouille
A five-star meal in a fancy restaurant sounds great, but may not be so appetizing when you find the chef is a rat. While it's hard to stomach the idea of a cooking rodent, Disney's story of Remy, the rat, and his human cook accomplice Linguine, manage to make it's way into the top. With guidance from chef Thomas Keller, the food scenes in this animated film are spot on, from the way the cooks hold their chefs knives to the crunch of French bread. The drawings of the food seem more real than actual food and the description/creation of the French kitchen is accurate. Plus it's about a cooking rat, not a cooking pigeon (eww).

It's all about the food in Julie & Julia
​6. Julie & Julia
If you love food it's hard not to like this year's top food movie, the enchanting story of cookbook author Julia Child and food blogger Julie Powell. Vibrant scenes of Parisian markets, messy kitchens, and recipe cooking (by both Julie and Julia) fill most of the movie's 123 minutes. Julia wins with scenes depicting her first tastes of Dover Sole, her attempts at knife skills, and her rigorous recipe testing. Want to read the book? Skip the blogger's side of things and head directly for Julia's memoir, My Life in France.

5.Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Golden-egg laying geese, roast beef flavored gum, and a chocolate flavored river? Roald Dahl must have had a wild imagination when it came to cuisine. The original adaptation of his book, 1971's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is full of absurd, larger-than-life scenes of sweet temptations. The eerie Gene Wilder portrayal of Wonka tops Johnny Depp's 2004 Micheal Jackson-inspired characterization, and some scenes, including the neon-lighted race down the chocolate river, the dark ally visit from slimy Slugworth (who hopes to steal Wonka's recipes), and children disappearing left and right, are downright creepy. Worth watching if only to dream yourself into a candy wonderland.

Food eroticism 101: Crack an egg, placing the yolk in your mouth. Pass the yolk into your partners mouth. Continue until the yolk messily cracks all over one of you. This is just one of the many food lessons learned from watching Tampopo, the story of cowboy truck driver Goro who helps Tampopo turn her restaurant into a true ramen noodle shop. Entangled with Japanese culture and food reverence, the movie thoroughly explores food's sensual applications. Other lessons include how to eat ramen like a master, how woman should eat spaghetti making no noise, and how to stop an elderly woman from squeezing grocery store items.

3.Eat Drink Man Woman
If cooking is your thing than Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman is the film for you. Wrapped into the story of Chu and his three daughters is the Sunday dinner. Each week, Chef Chu creates elaborate meals for his family, all for your viewing pleasure. Watch high-speed Chinese knife cuts, killing and cooking of fresh fish, and a carcass being blown up like a balloon and fried into Peking Duck. The storyline is a bit unclear, but the food scenes shine all on their own.

A crowded kitchen in Mostly Martha.
​2.Mostly Martha/ Bella Martha
In the battle of arrogant, uncontrollable chefs, Martha Klein reins supreme. This German film completely captures the crazed chef mentality(in the opening scene Martha stabs a complaining guest's table with a chefs knife). Temper tantrums, shouting and cook-offs result from the heady Chef. Of course, the movie needs some sort of storyline, so enter Mario, her cooking competition, and Lina, her 8-year old niece. The film moves away from the food as it focuses on emotions and relationships, but while it lasts Mostly Martha has some great food scenes, including a wish-I-could-do-that moment when Martha locks herself in the refrigerated walk-in to cool down. Rent the original and endure the subtitles; 2007's poor remake, No Reservations, does the German version no justice.

1.Babette's Feast
If you win the French lottery, with a grand prize of 10,000 Francs, how would you spend your money? On the most lavish meal possible, cooked for such fine food connoisseurs as your employers and their pious religious sect, of course. This is just how Babette, a French cook and maid, chooses to spend her winnings, turning Babette's Feast into the epitome of food movies and a delight of French cuisine. Turtle soup, roast quail, and caviar are all musts for the religious sisters Babette works for. Points for featuring food as an evil temptation that her pious guests succumb to with soup a la tortoise, and for suggesting to spend all your money on haute cuisine.

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Region Philbis
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 08:17 am

Eating Raoul...
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 08:33 am
@Region Philbis,
i was a little surprised not to see Chocolat make the list

Vianne Rocher, (Juliette Binoche) like her ancestors, drifts across France. In the winter of 1959, she travels to a tranquil French village, where she and her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) open a small chocolaterie. The store imbues both wonder and angst within the classical villagers as it opens during the forty days of Lent.

Soon, Vianne's allure and confections enlivens a married couple's aphrodisia, encourages an elderly man's secret love, brings rapport with a willful diabetic, and comforts an awkward woman who longs to leave her drunk and abusive husband. Nonetheless, the devout village mayor, Comte Paul de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), sees Vianne as an immoral provocateur and quietly contests against her. The battle peaks when a band of river gypsies camp on the village outskirts and Vianne finds a mutual attraction with the Manush Romani (Gypsy) Roux (Johnny Depp).
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 12:13 pm
Hard to disagree with the list, though I'd probably put Big Night up higher.
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 01:36 pm
I'm disappointed in the careless omissions of Waitress and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) from the list! Mad
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:37 pm
I can only comment on the foodmovies I've seen or at least read reviews about -

1) Big Night - loved it, loved it, that one gets five hearts
2) Tampopo - liked it a lot, am a big Mifune fan but enjoyed the whole thing
3) Brutti, Sporchi e Cattivi (ran in LA as Down and Dirty) - major family dining scene, but not really a food movie
4) Babette's Feast - appreciated it as well done
5) Like Water for Chocolate - was annoyed by it, can't remember the whys and wherefores, not sure I watched it to the end

Those I'd like to see - in this order
1) Ratatouille
2) Eat Drink Man Woman
3) Chocolat
4) Julie and Julia

I think I'm forgetting some movie or movies.
Have to check in search, as there was a long ago thread about this. Wonder what my list said on that one..
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:42 pm
all i know of Julie and Julia comes form the great Ron Bennington, his review, loved Julia, hated Julie
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:42 pm
Aha, this (I think) was the thread I was talking about -

more movies to consider..

0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:47 pm
Amy Adams wasn't as bad as the reviews portrayed her and her character. She wasn't the weakest actor/character of the two couples.
Of the movies leading performances, this is how I rank the four performances:
1. Stanley Tucci ... Paul Child
2. Meryl Streep ... Julia Child

3. Amy Adams ... Julie Powell
4. Chris Messina ... Eric Powell

I'd be disappointed if Tucci and Streep don't get nominated for their respective categories, Best supporting actor and Best leading actress respectively.
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:49 pm
Yeh, that's part of my coolth to it.

From the other thread, I want to see the Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
I'd forgotten Diner and My Dinner with Andre (liked both, but more so My Dinner with Andre)

I forgot a favorite of my own but, damn, the fifth time I saw it I liked it somewhat less - Bread and Chocolate w/Nino Manfredi

How could I forget this?
Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers, by Les Blank -
New York Times review:

Well, check out that thread, lots of good stuff..
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:49 pm
don't think he was talking about the actresses, think he was talking about the real folks, as evidenced by his review of Frost/Nixon, loved Frost, hated Nixon
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:53 pm
So this guy reviews a movie by how he feels about the real life people? I wonder how he rated Downfall? Or The Last King of Scotland?
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:57 pm
probably made a comment at some point, can't remember, he makes a lot of great statements on a daily basis
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 06:01 pm
I didn't read Bennington thus didn't base my coolth re the Julie character on his review - but read some other reviews. I still want to see the movie - and I may also like/identify with Julie.
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 06:14 pm
Ronnie B is a radio guy most of what he says is for effect (he's a huge fan of independent and foreign film, but he's also a smart ass, part of what i love about him)
0 Replies
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:20 pm
I just ran across this list on Michael Bauer's Food Blog by a poster named Carrie - several movies here I haven't seen:

Carrie2183/12/2010 7:39:00 AM
I see I'm not the first person to think of Timpano and it sounds like MB needs to watch a bunch more food movies!

Here's a starting list for you, Michael!
Big Night (Italian food)
Babette's Feast (French food)
Eat Drink Man Woman (Chinese)
Tampopo (Japanese food - specifically, noodles)
Feast at Midnight (British baking)
Like Water for Chocolate (Mexican food)
Mostly Martha (German film, European food)
Chocolat (can you guess?)
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (*secret!*)
Chef in Love (Georgian)
Chinese Feast (Chinese)
Delicatessen (*secret!*)
Soul Food (guess!)
Le Grande Boufe (French)

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/mbauer/detail?entry_id=58955#ixzz0i0H0HbJ8
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 05:12 pm
Still no love for Sweeney Todd, Waitress, or the classic barely nobody has seen or heard of My Blueberry Nights by the great director Kar Wai Wong. The latter two films deal with pastries and pies as their food porn goes. Razz
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 05:25 pm
or what about Parents


son: what's this we're eating
mother: leftovers dear
son: but what were they before they were leftovers
mother: (pause) leftovers to be
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 05:31 pm
Oh, no, not Sandy Dennis....
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 05:37 pm
I loved My Blueberry Nights. Our local BB got in exactly one copy, so I ended up buying it on Amazon.
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