At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
June is “The Month of Cuisine” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. For the roof, you might want to bring something to sit on or lie on. And, if on the roof, the start might be delayed while everyone waits for it to get darker. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, June 6: No Reservations (2007) by Scott Hicks – 104 mins – US/ Australia, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance. Mixed or average reviews: 50/52 out of 100.
With Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin.
Reelviews, James Berardinelli: No Reservations is an adequate adaptation of Sandra Nettelbeck's 2001 German feature, Mostly Martha. While not as emotionally resonant as its inspiration and tending a little more toward melodrama, No Reservations is nevertheless an uplifting tale about love melting the heart of a cold, lonely woman. It's not exactly revolutionary territory but it is effectively presented and it will be hard to find viewers who aren't at least a little moved by what director Scott Hicks (Shine) has placed on the screen.
This is a "food movie," which means there are numerous shots of carefully prepared meals. The film doesn't come close to the likes of Babette's Feast or Big Night when it comes to a sensory overload but the images are there. Nevertheless, while food was a powerful symbol in Mostly Martha, it fulfills a less compelling purpose here. It's an integral part of the story, to be sure, but director Hicks has made this more about the people than their culinary creations, even if they talk as often through their cooking as through words.
Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the chef at a top Manhattan restaurant; her recipes, which tend toward the exotic, always receive rave reviews and, although she's a prickly woman, the owner of the place, Paula (Patricia Clarkson), tolerates her because she's one of the best in the city at creating French cuisine. Kate's world is turned upside down when her sister dies in a car crash, leaving Kate as the guardian of grade-schooler Zoe (Abigail Breslin). They mix like oil and water. Zoe is depressed at having lost her mother; Kate has no idea how to relate to a child. To make matters worse, Paula has hired the overqualified Nick (Aaron Eckhart) as a sous-chef. He claims to have taken the position because he wants the opportunity to work with Kate. She believes he's angling for her job. While knives nearly fly in the kitchen, sparks fly out of it.
The film's central relationships - between Kate and Zoe and Kate and Nick - are built upon strong foundations. We like and understand all three of these people. Nick is a free-spirit who brings joy and healing into the lives of two damaged individuals. Zoe is obviously deeply hurt by the loss of her mother and all in her life that is familiar. Kate, on the other hand, is emotionally shut-off. Her last relationship was years ago and she has become so focused on work that there is nothing else for her in life. Catherine Zeta-Jones does an excellent job of bringing out the sadness in a character who could easily have come across as a bitch. Abigail Breslin strikes an occasional wrong note but is generally believable. And Aaron Eckhart starts out strong and cocky then gradually mellows.
The difficulty with No Reservations, as with any PG-rated adult-oriented drama (this movie would, in all likelihood, bore kids to death), is finding an audience. The film is charming and affecting but it's difficult to get summer audiences excited about a small character-based story centered around a lonely chef and a child who has lost her mother. No Reservations may not be a modern day classic but, despite the relatively small budget, it has more heart than nearly anything currently playing in multiplexes.
IMDb viewer: More a family drama rather than a romantic comedy. There is lavish bitter dark pathos of death in the beginning of the movie and the more colorful look at restaurant cooking while there are bits of humor scattered like sweets throughout the movie. There are some amazing close up scenes that really grab the attention of the audience with the emotions and captivating context of the scenes, the color motif is brilliant. Overall, the script is basic and mostly predictable with some good tie-ins and closures. It's Catherine Zeta Jones that really makes this movie deliciously sparkle. Entertaining and fun for the summer with good flashes of cooking on part with "Ratatouille" that came out just a little earlier.
NY Times: What’s unexpected and gratifying is the film’s enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie’s publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though it’s the story’s driving force.
Scott Hicks, the film's director, is also a wine-maker when he is not making films. The wine mentioned in the film is in fact the director's own wine label from his winery Yacca Paddock Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. (Just thought you’d like to know.)
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, June 13: Udon / 饂飩（うどん）(2006)by Katsuyuki Motohiro – 134 mins – Japan, Comedy/ Drama.
A dramedy about the relationship between an aspiring comic and his stubborn noodlemaker father.
A Nutshell Review: Don't watch Udonon an empty stomach, or you'll be tempted to gorge on those Japanese noodles right after the screening. [See picture at right.] Despite its simple presentation, watching bowls after bowls of noodles in your face, and the characters slurping them down with gusto, somehow leaves you with an imagined flavor in your mouth as they smack their lips, while you smack at nothing.
The film is as simple as a bowl of udon noodles [See picture above.], with prime ingredients being the fat noodles, the broth, a sprinkle of spring onions, and an egg.
YesAsia: A heartwarming comedy about family, life, and that perfect bowl of Udon [See picture above.]. It’s an entire film dedicated to the magic of those chewy wheat noodles. [See picture above.]
Kosuke (Yusuke Santamaria), the son of an udon shop owner, is from a tiny rural town in Kagawa prefecture known for its udon noodles [See picture.]. Kosuke, however, is sick of his hometown, and even more sick of udon. He decides to try his luck in New York, only to return six years later in debt-ridden disappointment. Back at home, he meets a flighty food column editor, and the two happen upon a bowl of delicious udon noodles that will change their lives.
An udon enthusiast and Kagawa native himself, Motohiro did extensive field research to find the best shops and recipes to showcase on screen and help spread the love for the noodle. The filmmakers even took their mission abroad by opening an udon stand at the 2006 Cannes film market. An earnest yet tongue-in-cheek celebration of life and food, Udon is a mouth-watering joy to watch. [See picture.]
Available on DVD from YesAsia.
At Film Space Saturday, June 20: Delicatessen (1991) by Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet – 99 mins – France, Comedy/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Romance. Rated R in the US for violence. Generally favorable reviews: 66/54 out of 100.
A post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who creates cannibalistic meals for his odd tenants.
IMDb viewer: Delicatessen is a very original comedy from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also directed the great Amélie. It tells the story of Louison (Dominique Pinon) who is the new helper of a landlord named Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus). Clapet is a butcher and in a world where food is rare he prepares cannibalistic meals for the people in his building. Louison is the new meal and the people in the building wait for Clapet to kill him so they can eat. Clapet's daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) falls in love with Louison and to save him she seeks help from an underground group.
You have read the above and you must understand Delicatessen is not a normal movie. Although its subject is close to very scary the movie is a comedy and to be honest it is very funny at times. Listen to the way people talk here. Especially the conversation between the butcher and a mailman is very funny. The underground group gets a lot of laughs as well. The movie hints at real horror images but never gives us that. Most of the time the tension is broken with something funny.
Delicatessen is not only pretty funny, it looks terrific as well. From the great opening sequence to the last shot it is visually perfect. The production design and especially the cinematography add a lot to the movie's whole atmosphere. May be it is not for everyone, some will find it ridiculous or the idea too lugubrious, may be it is, but the way the subject is handled is the right way. At least it is interesting and therefore already worth seeing.
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.