All posts filed under: Film

Haute Taco Bell & Underground Rat Burgers: Food as Political Metaphor in ‘Demolition Man’

When my husband and I moved into our new apartment in Providence one month ago, we split our time between building Ikea furniture during a minor heat wave (which was somewhat-less-than-delightful) and watching movies that ranged from beloved cult classic (Slap Shot with 1977 Paul Newman) to awesomely bad. It is from this latter set that today’s subject matter emerges: the sci-fi action flick, Demolition Man (1993). In this film, directed by Marco Brambilla, hero John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone, ripped and a bit punch drunk as per usual) battles his violent nemesis, Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes, donning a startlingly blonde flat top). After Spartan’s attempt to arrest Phoenix goes wrong in 1996, both men are sentenced to be cryogenically frozen, which, yes, was somehow already a best practice in prisons before the end of the twentieth century. When Phoenix escapes at his parole hearing and starts a killing spree in the post-apocolyptic future of 2032, the current police force has no choice but to turn to Spartan for help.

Family Dining on Christmas and in ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’

Between college, grad school, working, and grad school again, I’ve lived a thousand or more miles from my family for the last ten years. This means that for one reason or another, I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in just about as long — and this year, that fact is making me even sadder than usual. Suffice it to say, I’ve got family and meals on the brain, which made me think of a favorite food film. In Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), director Ang Lee expertly tells the story of changing family dynamics in Taipei, Taiwan during a time of rapid modernization, employing a universal medium — food. Through Chef Chu who has lost his sense of taste and his three daughters, this film addresses many themes, including gender, family, and globalization. Gender and authority come to the fore in this film, as they do in the public world of food where men in general are more likely to hold positions of power. Such is the case for Chef Chu. While he no longer …

Chewing on the ‘Last Supper’ in “Drive” -OR- Viewing Ryan Gosling Through a Food Studies Lens

Today is Labor Day, marking a transition in the year and the pace of my life. The fall semester starts tomorrow, which means I’m equally excited to start my study of Food Anthropology with Carole Counihan and US Food History with Warren Belasco — and fearful that I might be crushed beneath the weight of my academic course load, working full time, studying for the cursed GRE, and applying to PhD programs. What this means for you is that I’ll happily continue blogging, but likely only once a week. So please do continue to visit me, but know I’ll only be posting new content on Mondays — like today!  Drive (2011), directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, turned out to be a film that viewers either adored or loathed. My husband and I were in the adoring camp — and not just because we both have huge crushes on the Gosling. After seeing the film, we read James Sallis’ novel by the same name on which the film is based. As is always the case, the novel …

Eat Up: ‘A History of Violence’ Sandwich

While by no means a “food film,” food plays an interesting role in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005), a marvelous film — albeit as you can likely deduce from the title quite, ahem, violent. I’ll focus on two food-centric scenes, which sandwich much of the violent action of the film. A man with a history of violence, Tom Stall, played by Viggo Mortensen, has a new family-centric, pie-serving, church-going, All-American life, which is astutely symbolized in the business he owns, Stall’s Diner. As discussed in the BBC News article, “Why the Diner is the Ultimate Symbol of America,” a diner proves to be the perfect food-centric foil to the violence of Tom’s past. The freshly wiped-down surfaces, the democratic side-by-side seating at the counter, the ever-flowing coffee on the warmer, the simple “open” sign on the door, and the “friendly service” tagline on the sign that marks the storefront — all of these features clearly delineate the wholesome character of Tom, the loving Stall family, and the small, supportive community in which they live. The Main Street diner also …

Transcending the Screen: Trophy Kitchens in Two Nancy Meyers’ Films

Nancy Meyers’ older bird chick flicks, Something’s Gotta Give (2003) and It’s Complicated (2009), provide both escape and hope to middle-aged female audiences, whose views on love, sex, and relationships are both informed and complicated by life experience — including marriage, motherhood, and divorce — and the stereotypes that accompany being middle-aged. Something’s Gotta Give is the story of fifty-three-year-old Erica (Diane Keaton), the successful, divorced playwright who in the setting of her luxurious Hampton beach house falls in love with both her daughter’s sixty-three year old boyfriend, Harry (Jack Nicholson) and a handsome thirty-something doctor, Julian, (Keanu Reeves). It’s Complicated also tells the story of an accomplished, divorced woman in her fifties, Jane (Meryl Streep), but in this version of the story, she is caught not between a man her own age and a younger man, but between her ex-husband, Jake (Alec Baldwin), and her new boyfriend, Adam (Steve Martin), the architect she has hired to build her dream home. Food and cooking serve as symbols and narrative devices in these two films, representing and communicating the multidimensional …