Monday, September 14, 2009

Papadom & Other Food on Films

I was invited by Ajami Hashim to go and watch the preview of PAPADOM,  movie by Afdlin Shauki,
and strangely I have never watched any of Afdlin's movie, and unfortunately I was unable to go, so what
I could do is just reading reviews by others which is interesting. But frankly, I can't stop thinking about other
movies with food as their theme. Then I got to google and found this interesting site called I am not surprised kalau filem ni dapat terpilih ke festival filem
makan kat London tu lepas ni. Tapi punyalah tak puas hati tak dapat pegi dan tak dapat sama-sama
mereviu tu dan nak jugak menulis, walaupun sikit, ni hah, sempat jugak aku tempel-tempelkan tulisan
dari bebagai orang tentang filem-filem tentang makanan. It is so happened that I have watched some of
the films there, so now I am simply cut and paste, except Dim Sum Funeral, story about American Chinese
that I watched recently on DVD (which is bad, compared to films like Eat, Drink, Man & Woman, Wedding Banquet, Joy Luck Club). Yes, in the near future, I will write about these films on food as I was just talking to another film buff. I am sure in the near future too Razak Mohiddin will do film like Nasi Kandar, or may be Hatta Azad Khan will do his next film on Nasi Kerabu and David Teo doing film on Penang Kuey Teaw or even Wantan Noodles.

Dir: Marc CaroJean-Pierre Jeunet/ Wr:Gilles AdrienMarc Caro/ France/ 1991
In a ravaged French city - possibly in a post-holocaust future, possibly an alternate 1950s - daily life trundles on, and a very French group of apartment tenants concentrate on a very French set of concerns : adultery, suicide, music and, most of all, food. The butcher (Dreyfus) who owns the block has developed a system to support his tenants by hiring odd-job men whom he fattens up and finally turns into tasty meats that usefully supplement the lentils that have taken over as hard currency in the starving city.

The only people who remain untouched by this meat-eater's corruption are the butcher's saintly daughter (Clapet), a wistful but myopic cellist, and the old man (Howard Vernon) in the cellar who has turned his home into a watery swamp to support the two essentials of French cuisine, frogs and snails. Into this tidily unhappy world comes Louison (Pinon), an ex-clown still grieving over the death of his monkey, whose good-natured decency moves Clapet to betray the cannibals to the subterranean revolutionaries, and who upsets the whole people-eating system.

While Delicatessen has a few bizarro precedents - Eraserhead, Brazil, Life On The Edge, The Last Battle - it is a delightfully original picture, poised perfectly between farce and horror. The sinister undertones of much recent French cinema comes out in the open in this mainly bloodless but conceptually gruesome item, which presents a cross-section of society stuck together in the crumbling apartment block and lampoons them all, from the senile brothers who manufacture moo-cow novelties to the rich woman whose elaborate suicide attempts consistently backfire. Pinon, best remembered as the bald punk assassin in Diva, is a quizzically charming hero, wandering around in his clown shoes and resourcefully doing his best to stand by his gutsy but fragile ladylove in a nightmare climax that finds them both on the run from the cleaver-wielding butcher.

The Jeunet et Caro team have hitherto worked exclusively in short films, and this is their first feature. They have traces of the style-consciousness of their compatriots Luc Besson and Jean-Jacques Beneix, but they also resurrect some of the light, albeit deep black, touch of Jacques Tati and have an unusal facility, perhaps derived from French cinema's great Jean Renoir, to love all their characters, no matter how horrid they may be. A fair bet for cult-dom, and a lot more likeable than its subject matter suggests. Essential viewing for vegetarians.

2. Couscous (La Graine Et Le Mulet)/ FOOD FILMS/ FILM MAIN       
154 minutes, Germany/France (2007)



Abdel Kechiche's third feature is an ensemble film about food, family, failure and friction within France's community of North African émigrés

Take the grain away from fish couscous and you are left with nothing to absorb the acidity of the mullet or the spiciness of the sauce. A similar principle is at work in Abdellatif Kechiche's film. All the ingredients seem to be in place for a predictable ensemble recipe where everything will come together harmoniously in the end - only for the director to leave us impatient and slavering, like the protagonist's drunken dinner guests in the final scenes, for a perfect dish that may never arrive. In other words, he make us hungry for wishful fantasy, while slyly serving up something with all the frustrations, disappointments and unsavouriness of real life, so that we simultaneously are invited to dream up a happy conclusion while witnessing a tragic catastrophe that tastes very bitter indeed. 

In a memorable image from 
Couscous, we see the 61-year-old Slimane (Boufares) running in circles, getting nowhere except out of breath, as he pursues a trio of taunting youths who have just stolen his moped at a moment when his future employment depends on it. 

This allusion to Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves(1948) reinforces the film's neo-realist tone and working class setting, while the scene's hellish circularity encapsulates the Sisyphean predicament of a man who has been forced into early retirement with little to show for his 35 years of shipyard labouring but a paltry severance package and declining health. Slimane, it seems, has always been running in circles. 

Despite his humiliation and emasculation, the downtrodden patriarch still dreams of restoring his own dignity and creating something of value to leave behind for his extended family - and so he decides (off camera) to start up his own couscous business on an old boat that he will refurbish himself. 

Once again Slimane must face a vicious circle of French officiousness, prejudice and exclusion, and he ends up staking all his last hopes in a lavish dinner party designed to attract investors. At this point his ex-wife Souad (Marzouk), his many children, in-laws, co-workers and friends, his landlady/lover Latifa (Karaoui) and especially Latifa's daughter Rym (Herzi) all pitch in to make the perfect night for the man they love - until, whether by illogical happenstance or the workings of the evil eye, everything begins to unravel.


Dir: Lasse Hallström/ Writing credits: Joanne Harris (novel), Robert Nelson Jacobs 



Juliette Binoche plays an enchantress who is also an itinerant chocolate maker.She and her daughter blow into a staid French village in the 1950s and awaken its residents with her magic chocolates. Is she a witch, as some believe, or a pagan priestess? Movie includes Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and other non-French co-stars plus lots of wonderful looking chocolates...cakes, truffles, hot chocolate with peppers, chocolate almonds and more. 

The story

Chocolat begins with Vianne Rocher and her six-year-old daughter Anouk arriving in the small village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes--"a blip on the fast road between Toulouse and Bordeaux"--during the carnival. Three days later, Vianne opens a luxuriant chocolate shop crammed with the most tempting of confections and offering a mouth-watering variety of hot chocolate drinks. It's Lent, the shop is opposite the church, it's open on Sundays and Francis Reynaud, the austere parish priest, is livid.

One by one the locals succumb to Vianne's concoctions. Harris weaves their secrets and troubles, their loves and desires, into this, her third novel, with the lightest touch. Sad, polite Guillame and his dying dog. Thieving, beaten-up Joséphine Muscat. Schoolchildren who declare it "hypercool" when Vianne says they can help eat the window display--a gingerbread house complete with witch. And Armande, still vigorous in her eighties, who can see Anouk's "imaginary" rabbit Pantoufle, and recognises Vianne for who she really is. However, certain villagers-- including Armande's snobby daughter and Joséphine's violent husband--side with Reynaud. So when Vianne announces a Grand Festival of Chocolate commencing Easter Sunday, it's all-out war. War between church and chocolate, between good and evil, between love and dogma. 

Reminiscent of Herman Hesse's short story Augustus, Chocolat is an utterly delicious novel, coated in the gentlest of magics, which proves--indisputably and without preaching--that soft centres are best.

Lisa Gee 

The music

The base structure of strings and woodwinds that dominate composer Portman's works exists in full force here. Upon first listen to the score without any knowledge of the film's plot, the music seems either Italian or Spanish, heavy with guitar driven Mediterranean performances and an overly melodramatic Italian theme. Pieces ofChocolat even draw their roots from the Tuscany portions of Only You. And yet the film takes place in France, which isn't too much of a leap. The moments of ethnic outbursts  are easily the highlight of the score,  delegating them to traditional guitars and woodwinds rather than her favourite piano. 


Dir: Jon Avnet/ Prods: Jon Avnet and Jordan Kerner/ Screenplay: Fannie Flag and Carol Sobieske/Based on the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café by Fannie Flag/ 1992/ 130 mins

The 1930s story of two lifelong friends, Idgie and Ruth, is retold during the 1990s. The elderly Ninny Threadgoode tells their story to Evelyn Couch. Couch becomes entranced by their story and continues to visit Ninny Threadgoode in a nursing home so that she may learn more. Threadgood's stories about the two strong-willed women inspire Couch to become more assertive in her life. The stories focus on the early adult years of Idgie and Ruth. Ruth befriends Idgie and tries to get her to be more respectable. However, Idgie also manages to get Ruth to enjoy life more. Troubles start for the two when Ruth marries. Unfortunately, her husband's violent temper soon leads to his battering Ruth. Idgie manages to convince Ruth to leave him and the two found the Whistlestop Café.

While most of this film revolves around the two women's friendship, there are plenty of small moments when one gets to see presumably mouth-watering food. Also, there are many food scenes at the Whistle Stop Café. In the first few moments one is treated to short clips of food laid out for a wedding meal. However the best scenes involve Idgie trying out a recipe for fried green tomatoes, this soon devolves into a food fight between Idgie and Ruth which eventually results in the town sheriff getting frosting smeared all over his face and shirt. The barbecued ribs that are served to the detective also appear mouth-watering until you learn their origin (yes, this charming story of friendship among women involves cannibalism). The meals that are prepared by Evelyn Couch are also quite appetizing; one meal is fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and later they consist of tofu. The food moments in this film are relatively few but there are sufficient shots to make this a good food film.


Cast: Bai Ling Steph Song Talia Shire Julia Nickson Lisa Lu With Kelly Hu And Russell Wong
Executive Producers: Tom Berry, Clark Peterson, Donald Martin, Ray Cuerdo, Stefan Wodoslawsky, Andy Reimer
Producer: Jeffery Lando
Written by: Donald MARTIN
Director: Anna CHI


In a stately home, sixty-something Mrs. Xiao (Lisa Lu) lies in her bed, immobile, eyes shut. Her longtime housekeeper and, some might say, her only friend, Viola Gruber (Talia Shire), a force of nature who’s been with the family since the kids were in diapers, must now call each of the four children to inform them their mother has passed away. 

 Eldest daughter Elizabeth (Julia Nickson) lives in Maui and is stuck in a marriage that is falling apart. Son Alexander (Russell Wong) is in Manhattan. A successful dermatologist, he’s married to a former Miss Taiwan (Kelly Hu) and cheating on her. Middle daughter Victoria (Francoise Yip) lives nearby. Victoria can’t stop nibbling on chips and chocolates … and can’t stop being angry with her mother. Youngest daughter Meimei (Steph Song) is the star of B-grade Hong Kong martial arts films. She’s gorgeous, funny, and a bit of a princess. She’s also in a lesbian relationship (Bai Ling) and looking to.have a baby.

 All the Xiao children had issues with their mother. She was domineering, manipulative, controlling, imperious, meddlesome, selfish, secretive, rigid, and a bitch. The kids have issues with each other as well. Mrs. Xiao had made them compete for her affections, pitting one against the other, and, so, they came to view one another as opponents. And they still do.

 Now, here they are, gathered in the mansion built by their late father … to bid farewell to their mother. Mrs. Xiao’s dying wish, Viola says, was to have a traditional Chinese funeral. 

Coming together, albeit reluctantly, to carry out this traditional funeral, the four Xiao children discover each other all over again … and come to know their mother in ways they never fathomed, in this touching and funny look at family life.  


fadz said...

howabout Babette's Feast or Water for Chocolate? Mine would def be : Eat Drink Man Women

kekure said...

Jom buat filem nasi dagang or keropok losong even?
Chocolate is definitely my fave..

saat omar said...

my fav food movie would be Chow Sing Chi's God of Cookery hehe...

yeah food movie is not a bad movie in this fasting month ahaj

zubin said...

so perhaps film could be discuss from food and nation perspectives, so has papadom discuss those issues or just simply name it papadom and nothing to do with Indian or side dish?