Five Food Films Worth Your Time

5. Supersize Me

Sure, it’s a little gimmicky, but Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 film–documenting his 30 days of eating McDonald’s food exclusively–highlighted some of the most serious problems of our fast-food culture and it did so in an entertaining, visceral way. His point–which I think he made well–was that McDonald’s (and other fast food companies)–are open to many of the same liabilities as the tobacco industry. Just six weeks after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonald’s announced the discontinuation of the ‘Supersize’ option–which increased the serving of French fries to nearly half a pound and the soda to well over a quart for a mere 39 cents. 
4. Bella Martha (Mostly Martha)

Don’t be scared by the fact that this film’s in German. (And don’t be tempted to watch the English-language remake–No Reservations–with Catherine Zeta-Jones–it’s terrible.) This 2001 film has romance, heartbreak, and humor. Martha keeps her job as a chef only because she’s one of the best–because she’s out of her mind. She terrorizes the restaurant staff and patrons and while she can cook, she doesn’t understand food–or love–or how they might intersect. 3. Eat Drink Man Woman

I can’t resist Ang Lee’s films, and this one is no exception. Though it was remade as Tortilla Soup, the original is much better. It’s a beautiful film, visually, and the fact that it centers on a family held together by the ritual of an elaborate Sunday dinner–and an aging chef-father who is losing his sense of taste–makes it deliciously metaphorical. And it always makes me want to learn Chinese cookery.2. Ratatouille

Yes, I’ve written about this film before, and, yes, maybe you’ve watched it with the kids, but this film is worth a second viewing, if only to pay close attention to the transformation of the Anton Ego character–the food critic. Not just to his words, some of which are simply golden–but to his transformation.

My favorite quote, which seems to me to be a fictional blending of Father Capon and George Steiner:

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

1. Babette’s Feast

And this is where I will say almost nothing about the film except this: it’s slow moving and strange and in Danish but very worth it. It’s beautiful, evocative, and inspiring; its myth is at once humanistic and deeply, deeply Christian. I love it.

{And I hope you will, too!}

5 thoughts on “Five Food Films Worth Your Time

  1. In college, my basic Christian theology class concluded our section on eschatology with a viewing of Babette’s Feast, as a way to imagine an eschatological banquet, a celebration of exquisitely engineered joy and reconciliation figured at the end of a long struggle. Thanks for sharing the rest of the list, too — a few that I’ve never heard of, but will now go and find as soon as possible!

    1. now that is how to conclude a section on eschatology! In my college, had we concluded with a film, it would’ve been A Thief in the Night. Not literally, but almost.

  2. On your recommendation I reserved Mostly Martha at the library and just watched it today. Thank you so much! A beautiful movie.

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