Tuesday, July 10, 2007

a new addition to the food movie canon

Just in case you haven't seen it already, I just want to say: go see Ratatouille! I think it's now my favorite animated feature (dare I say it slightly edges out Triplets of Belleville?), and it's up there on my list of favorite food movies, right alongside Big Night, Babette's Feast, etc. The script is intelligent, the animation is gorgeous -- actually, it just might be my favorite movie this year, animation or no. It felt like a work of art rather than a kids' cartoon cash cow. The audience applauded at the end. How often does that happen in a movie theater?

The Pixar animators took cooking lessons so they would understand how chefs move in the kitchen, how they handle their knives, that sort of thing. Another thing they say they struggled with in the early stages was making the animated food look really good. The solution? Bring Thomas Keller of the French Laundry on board as a consultant. There's a pivotal scene where a notoriously cranky food critic has a Proust's madeleines sort of moment with the title dish - Thomas Keller determined what that very important ratatouille would look like (read more about that here). Apparently he also voiced one of the minor characters, which I didn't realize when I saw it. (Ferran Adria of El Bulli voices one in the Spanish version.)

Also, there's a scene along the Seine in Paris that made me want to go back there, right now. The animators got the City of Light exactly right. What a great movie.

Which leads me to a question -- what are your favorite food movies? I could use some new ideas for rentals ...

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7 Comments:

Blogger lis said...

I loved Ratatouille. I made the mistake of going to see it on the 4th of July so I was surrounded by a bunch of rowdy families, but even the bad company didn't ruin for me. That flashback moment was perfect.

We recently watched Dinner Rush. It's sort of a mobster/food movie--although the food is definitely the centerpiece of the movie. I highly recommend it. I've heard that Tampopo is great, but I haven't seen it yet.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

You beat me to it! I was going to post about Ratatouille and Keller's input! Yes, we loved it too.

4:07 PM  
Blogger tara said...

Great minds think alike, Sarah! Sorry about that :)

I found out which character Keller voiced. Remember the restaurant patron who asks, "What do you have that's new?" He was that guy.

5:43 PM  
Blogger tara said...

Oh, and I've heard Tampopo is great too. Must seek that out. I haven't heard of Dinner Rush. Thanks for the ideas!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I liked "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman." Another foreign film about a chef that was pretty good is "Mostly Martha."

I also recently got some episodes of "The French Chef" from Netflix--I had never actually seen Julia Child cook before!

9:22 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

I'm not really into cartoons and kid movies, but this does sound like a cute one!

My favourite food movies...'Big Night' is good...and though it's not a food movies per se, 'Pollyanna' has some nice watermelon and cake scenes, when they're at the bazaar...loved it as a kid, and still do.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Lisa B. said...

Big Night. also, My Dinner with Andre, also not really a food movie, but a movie in which food and philosophical conversation entwine beautifully. There's a remake of Mostly Martha with Catherine Z Jones and the delicious Aaron Eckhart, so I'm hoping it will at least be passable. The original (in German) is divine.

9:05 PM  

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