Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Leftovers: A few more thoughts on movies that feed the soul

Jeffrey Overstreet posted a more-than-you-can-eat smorgasbord essay on (soul) food movies yesterday at Filmwell, in response to Alissa Wilkinson's reflections "Julie, and Julia, and Me." Chef Overstreet's menu includes such mouth-watering films as PIECES OF APRIL, EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, WINGS OF DESIRE, RATATOUILLE, THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, and many more - including those mentioned below...

When CHOCOLAT was in theatres, two widely varying responses deepened my appreciation of the film; Frederica Mathewes-Green brilliantly and forcefully made the case for what bothered me about the film, then Loren Wilkinson (Regent College) drew out what was right about the film - as is his way.

And yes, I'd have to agree that BABETTE'S FEAST is pretty much the ultimate "soul food" food movie. My experience of the film was a curious echo of the experience its characters: until the feast began, I was as cold toward the movie as those frosty Scandinavians were toward one another. But that all changed. And when you talk about the sacramental nature of that sacrificial feast, I can't help thinking of the final scene of PLACES IN THE HEART, a surprising, arresting sequence that lifted a good film into something like greatness.

The "food for the soul" metaphor that figures so prominently in Jeff's movie writing is one that's also important to me - obviously, I suppose, given the name of this blog. I found that BIG NIGHT especially connected with those themes in my own experience.

And two films come to mind that you Jeffrey didn't mention. I love the way BROADWAY DANNY ROSE - Woody Allen's warmest film - is centred around a pair of meals. And while I haven't written anything about it, MY DINNER WITH ANDRE is a great favourite, and definitely calls for a return visit since the June release of Criterion's DVD.

Saying grace in the movies surely merits its own essay - LES MISERABLES and PIECES OF APRIL come immediately to mind. My favourite would have to be Joe's prayer in THE STATION AGENT.

But surely the last word must go to THE GODFATHER: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

All available at Videomatica

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