Friday, March 13, 2009

Food Movies: Theology and Psychology

To my delight, I was again asked movie advice by a professor who's working on co-teaching a class with a psychology professor on some aspect of food and theology. The email said "if you think of some good movie titles that would work around that topic, could you send them my way? I already thought of Babette’s Feast, and there is the one about the two brothers with an unsuccessful restaurant (title?)."

Here's the list I responded with. I'm hungry just thinking about these.

"The two brothers film is "Big Night" very excellent!

There's a Japanese film called "Eat Drink Man Woman" which was also remade in the US as "Tortilla Soup." Both have food as the backdrop for family stories about people living into fullness and desire instead of deprivation ie: learning to grieve as well as to celebrate. very lovely films.

"Like Water for Chocolate" is a magical realist story about revolutions and family dynamics- mostly food is the metaphor and medium for personal liberation within unfair constraint. it's a sexy movie- many people love the book and the film. it's in Spanish.

There's a documentary i've not yet seen called "How to Cook Your Life" about chef Edward Espe Brown, a Buddhist chef in San Francisco. might be some valuable stuff in there- just came out in 2007.

Some people like "Waitress" as a food movie, but I think you and I both had mixed reactions on that one.

"Chocolat" is about chocolate, but has been used in a lot of contexts about community, worship, etc. There's a lot of Lenten guides about it actually.

"Mostly Martha" is a German film that was recently remade as "No Reservations" with Catherine Zeta Jones. I saw the remake not the original- the original might be worth investigating. in this case, it's the chef who needs to learn about living life- her sister dies and she's left caring for her niece- which of course exposes the walls she's built up around herself. the US one was "okay" but the original might be excellent.

That's what comes to my mind moviewise. On a side note, my housemates and I have become ADDICTED to Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, which we watch on BBC America. Famous Chef Ramsey goes into American restaurants that are about to collapse financially or otherwise, and he discerns whether its relational issues, financial mismanagement, plain old bad cooking or lack of understanding their context (are they one of 40 italian restaurants on the block...)

This show is astounding- the human dynamics are terrifying and hilarious to watch, and have often brought us to tears as well. i've thought of mentioning the show to our psychology faculty as an outstanding resource for profiles of various personality disorders, family systems playing out, and with Chef Ramsey as an astute and unflinching counselor. He nails narcissists to the wall and builds up those who have been trod upon. And you learn a lot about what makes restaurants a place of life vs a place of death. a lot of these are available on DVD or free on the internet.

There's my 12 cents. what an exciting class to be working towards!!!
thanks as always for letting me access my internal narrative database"


Rebecca said...

I saw Mostly Martha only and it was fabulous.

ROBERTA said...

I've enjoyed watching several of your recommendations - all great movies - but How to Cook Your Life is one i have watched over and over - there is just so much there.

Jody said...

I have Mostly Martha...come over and watch it sometime!

Maryann said...

Did you see Gordon Ramsey on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Russell Brand? I've never watched Kitchen Nightmares before but this clip endeared me to him greatly: