Movies about Food

It’s either feast or famine here at Stuffed and Starved. Some weeks, nothin. Then four posts all at once today. But it’s exciting times.

Pixar’s new animated film Ratatouille has just come out to rave reviews. It’s a fine romp, with a plot that isn’t as well thought out as director Brad Bird’s previous films The Incredibles – villains are too easily dispatched, the main human character is a bore, and so on. That said, it’s head and shoulders above the other, similar, movie where animated characters go on a quest for food, Over the Hedge, in which the principal, and one of the only, jokes was that wild animals find Pringles as addictive as humans do.

Ratatouille is certainly good enough to appear in the same list as the best food movies. In that list (a comprehensive if quirky one is available here) predictably there’s only one really good food movie in English other than the film where the rats know how to cook – Stanley Tucci’s delightful character study, Big Night. It’s a quirky American film, the lesson of which is that we eat with five senses. The better cooks are left bereft at the end of the movie because they don’t understand the virtues of presentation, and lack the guile for showmanship.

Other food films to watch are Babette’s Feast, Ang Li’s almost pornographic Eat Drink Man Woman, and Delicatessen.

But towering above them all, encompassing and besting the genre, is Juzo Itami’s masterpiece, Tampopo. It’s hard to describe the multiple joys of the film – from street people making hypnotically beautiful omlettes to sex (with prawns), it’s a hymn to pleasure, and celebration of everyone’s right to enjoy food. Do rent it if you can – I don’t think anyone who has seen it has ever regretted doing so.