That Movie Book – Week Twenty Nine

Ok, So I know I haven’t been writing these for a while, but never fear, I am back and ready to… uh… give my vague opinions? Let’s do this! This week’s theme was “Serving Up A Platter Of Foodie Movies”. Food is an integral part of life that a lot of time I seem to take for granted. However, whenever I am really hungry or have a really good meal I start rambling on about how food is amazing. I love food so much, all the different things that can be done with food, all the amazing cuisines from various countries, why wouldn’t you enjoy and celebrate such a thing?

I know of a number of people who really only eat because they have to; if there was a magic future pill that gave you all the nutrients you needed so you didn’t have to eat they would use that in a heartbeat and not bother with cooking at all. It’s such a sad thing, because, like I said, food is amazing. There’s no way  I would give up butter or garlic or chicken or chocolate or anything else (apart from maybe capsicum) and replace it with a pill or a drink. No Way. Thankfully my metabolism is good enough at the moment to be able to eat whatever I want whenever I want, so I plan to do so with gusto.

And so, that brings us to the first movie I watched this week. Tampopo. This is a Japanese film about a truck driver who stops at a small Ramen shop and has some bad noodles. He then decides to help the Ramen Lady (Tampopo) learn to cook the best ramen around so that she gets more business and can support her son better.

I was pretty intent on watching this film this weekend. Ben didn’t really seem to care about it that much, but I insisted, figuring he could do something else while I watched it. I had forgotten, in my excitement for Japanese cinema, that Japanese movies are, in general, really fucking weird. The movie starts off with a Snazzy Guy and his Ladyfriend sitting down to watch a movie in a cinema with a fancy meal in front of them, where he makes a comment about how he hates being interrupted while watching movies so we (the people watching this) better be quiet. A bit weird way to start off, but nothing really out there. Then the Tampopo storyline started and away we go. But The film kept cutting away from that to show non sequitur types of scenes to do with food that just made no sense because I just wanted to know about Tampopo!

And there was always a weirdly sexual tone to them all. We see Snazzy Guy and Ladyfriend getting all kinky with their room service meals (twice, actually. There is a scene where they pass an egg yolk back and forth between their mouths as some kind of sexy foreplay that made me feel ill); A guy goes to the dentist to get a tooth extracted and the dental assistants were all being sexy to him afterwards, then he went and ate an ice cream in a park and gave it to a little kid to eat and that was made to look vaguely sexual as well; A man rushes home to his dying wife and yells at her to stay alive and make him a meal, she gets off her deathbed, cooks some rice for the family, then keels over while the husband continues to scarf down the food; A Japanese lady is trying to teach  the etiquette of eating spaghetti to some young ladies, but a fat Westerner is slurping away at his meal nearby so they all follow his lead and there are just constant shots of ladies messily eating pasta; and that’s only the ones I can remember off the top of my head. All these asides just made me stare at the screen and go “What is going onnnnnnn?!” repeatedly. I tried to just go with the flow and wait until it got back to Tampopo, but it was still really bizarre and wished things would get back to normal.

The whole tone of the film was kinda silly and it definitely didn’t take itself seriously, but Tampopo’s storyline was still a bit more realistic than those other scenes. I liked Tampopo’s story; it’s a pretty generic underdog working hard to get better at what they do to become The Best, but it was cute and not strangely disconcerting like the rest of it. I think I just need to watch more Japanese films to get used to the certain style they have so I don’t balk at weirdness.

 

On Sunday I watched Fast Food Nation. The film revolves around a fictional fast food company, Mickies, and the various people involved in it throughout the process of making their strongest-selling burger, the Big One.

I didn’t really care for this movie very much at all. The acting was ok, the story not entirely unbelievable (although all the things happening at one place felt like a bit of a stretch), but it wasn’t enough to grab my attention and make me care about it. I think maybe the execution could have been better. It looked older than it was (it had a vaguely late-90s feel to it, even though it was made in 2006) and the picture quality wasn’t great either, making it look cheaply made. It might have been the quality of the version I had more than the actual film itself, but I felt like it was trying to go for the fake documentary style and just missing the mark a little.

Plus, the messages were pretty hamfisted. I kept rolling my eyes at some of the scenes because the dialogue was was very obviously trying to be subtle about how big corporations are evil, but at the same time failing at that miserably. Also, near the end of the film when some people are walking through the ‘Kill Room’ at the meat processing plant, there was a montage where you just watched cows get killed and skinned and chopped up and gutted. As if repeatedly mentioning the kill room wasn’t a big enough hint, I think we got the point about how the place was awful. No need to keep showing us how these places are awful and killing poor dumb cows is a terrible gruesome job. We get it. Move on.

Honestly, this movie just made me want to go rewatch Super Size Me. It took me the length of the film to remember that name, because I realised that all this talk of fast food being terrible reminded me that I hadn’t seen Super Size Me since it first came out in cinemas and that I should probably watch it again.

 

So Yeah. Two films, one about how food is complex and affects all parts of life and should be revered and the other about how it can be used as a reason to exploit people and make them do not very nice things.

The other suggestions this week were Chocolat, Pieces of April, and Big Night. Next week’s theme is about all about Nazis, so it might be a short one, if I end up writing something at all. Maybe I’ll just intersperse the post with pictures of Kitler to lighten the tone.

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