Saturday, February 21, 2009

Best food movies of all time

In preparation of the Oscars presentation Sunday night, here are my all-time favorite food movies:

Like Water for Chocolate
This sensual film (the photo at right is from the movie poster) tells a series of erotic stories built around recipes, set on a Mexican ranch. The title alludes to sexual arousal being similar to the effect of boiling water poured onto chocolate, but this film also provided the starting point of one of the most powerful theological reflections I’ve had the pleasure of leading. 

Big Night
Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci are the owners of a 1950s New Jersey restaurant on the brink of disaster because Shalhoub refuses to cook uninspired Italian-American food for undiscerning customers. They prepare a feast for a star who promises to be there then doesn’t show – allowing the food to be the star of this show. The last scene speaks volumes without words.

Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe
Origin of my favorite dessert quote: “There’s a bomb in the bombe!”
Jacqueline Bisset is a celebrated pastry chef invited to London to assist in preparing a dinner for the Queen organized by Robert Morley. Morley plays a gourmand publisher of a gourmet magazine whose health is failing from an addiction to several chefs' specialties. Mysteriously, each chef is murdered, killed in the manner of his most famous dish. (In the book “Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe” by Nan and Ivan Lyons, the recipe for each dish is given.)

Tortilla Soup
This is a remake of Ang Lee’s “Eat Drink Man Woman,” but its intimate scope makes it move better as it tells the similar tale. A Los Angeles family whose widowed father and master chef (Hector Elizondo) tries to prevent his three daughters from leaving him for husbands, while he avoids a pushy woman played by a deliciously vulgar Raquel Welch.

This is actually an American film, shot in Burgundy, starring Juliette Binoche as a mysterious unmarried mother and chocolatier arriving in a very staid French village, where she encounters Judi Dench as an embittered old woman, Johnny Depp as a gypsy and Alfred Molina as a hidebound religious mayor. All are changed by the redemptive taste of Binoche’s incredible chocolates.

飲食男女 (Eat Drink Man Woman)

Supersize Me
The IMDB summary says it all:
Why are Americans so fat? Two words: fast food. What would happen if you ate nothing but fast food for an entire month? Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock does just that and embarks on the most perilous journey of his life. The rules? For 30 days he can't eat or drink anything that isn't on McDonald's menu; he must wolf three squares a day; he must consume everything on the menu at least once and supersize his meal if asked. Spurlock treks across the country interviewing a host of experts on fast food and an equal number of regular folk while chowing down at the Golden Arches. Spurlock's grueling drive-through diet spirals him into a physical and emotional metamorphosis that will make you think twice about picking up another Big Mac.

Movies with good food scenes
The Godfather
My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My favorite food movie review
“My Dinner with Andre” by Gene Shalit: “Thank God he didn’t order dessert.”


  1. Babette's Feast!

  2. I'm putting that in my Netflix queue right now.

  3. And how could I forget Ratatouille! I loved it. And I'll probably think of a half dozen more before the Oscars tomorrow night.

  4. You have to be old enough to remember it but the eating scene in "Tom Jones" was just wonderful.

  5. Another movie to put in the queue. Thanks!

  6. You omitted Tanpopo, a film about one of my own obsessions: the perfect bowl of ramen.

    Word verification is deckaut which is some sort of German cabbage thang, right?

  7. Ooo, "Tanpopo"-- I'm going to be busy watching movies for a while.