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 Soylent Green
Soylent green...it’s PEOPLE! (Hope we didn’t ruin that one for you, but you’ll forget all about it when you watch the DVD. Click here to purchase.

 

July 2006

Food Fun / Food Film Festivals

Action & Adventure Films

Lights, Camera, Caviar!

 

Taste the excitement! Drink in the danger! See people eating (sometimes, each other)! Here are our favorite Action/Adventure food films. You won’t feel this much adrenaline since you discovered you were extremely allergic to peanuts. If you aren’t ready for such an adventure, click here to go back and explore other genres.

Click here to send us your favorite films or food scenes.

 

 

Alive

In 1972 a chartered plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby squad and various family members crashed in the Andes. If that sounds dry and matter-of-fact, you haven’t seen director Frank Marshall’s harrowing re-creation Alive, an adrenaline-pounding, heart-in-your-mouth spectacle that kicks off this famous story of survival. The real-life against-all-odds odyssey made worldwide headlines when it became known that the survivors ate their own dead to survive. What could have easily become sensationalistic exploitation is treated with compassion and dignity by Marshall as he explores their moral and spiritual struggles as well as their physical ordeal. As team captain and base-camp cheerleader Vincent Spano slowly collapses under the stress and Ethan Hawke rouses from mourning his dead family to taking charge of saving himself, it also becomes a portrait in leadership, hope, and emotional courage.—Sean Axmaker, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Alive

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Movies with “wacky” titles are almost never any good, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! was intentionally made to be an instant golden turkey. Despite that, and the grade-Z production values, this is a regularly funny film. You need to be a fan of the kind of low-budget horror movie it’s spoofing, and you need to be very forgiving of the technical ineptness and frequent clunkers, but it works. The story? Well, tomatoes attack, basically. Jack Riley and the San Diego Chicken are in it, and that genuinely alarming helicopter crash you see in an early scene was a real accident. Seen now, the whole ratty affair brings back agreeable memories of the circa-1978 college-movie/midnight-cinema era, when seeing this film was virtually unavoidable. The sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (with a young George Clooney), is actually an even funnier film. Director John De Bello would continue to squeeze the Tomatoes franchise for years to come.—Robert Horton, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Bandits

Chemistry and quirkiness—and a stellar cast—help make Barry Levinson’s Bandits more than just another comedy about ill-matched outlaws. Levinson’s deft touch in Rain Man is evident in the film’s road-movie structure, which follows bank robbers Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) on a crime spree from Oregon to California. They’re eventually joined by an aspiring stuntman and getaway driver (Troy Garity, son of Jane Fonda) and a neglected housewife (Cate Blanchett) who falls in love with both Joe and Terry after escaping her boring marriage. As scripted by Twin Peaks alumnus Harley Peyton, Bandits shifts from character comedy to crime thriller with reckless abandon, and the humor (particularly Terry’s multiple neuroses) is occasionally forced and flat. Levinson compensates with offbeat moments of unexpected tenderness, allowing his cast to express depths of character not necessarily found in the script. A twist ending won’t surprise attentive viewers, but it gives Bandits the extra kick it needs. —Jeff Shannon, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Bandits

The Chinese Feast

After accepting a cooking challenge at the Imperial Feast (a three-day culinary showdown), Chui Kong Sun and Au Ka Wai search for a chef who can cook for the challenge. The man they are looking for was a renowned chef but is now an alcoholic. In addition to watching sweet and sour pork and fried noodles with pork being prepared, the Iron Chef-esque challenge requires the following ingredients: bear palm, elephant trunk, and monkey brains.—Melissa Hom, TheNibble.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Click here to purchase The Chinese Feast

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Few directors polarize audiences like Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker as influenced by Jacobean revenge tragedy and 17th century painting as by the French New Wave. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is both adored and detested for its combination of sumptuous beauty and revolting decadence. A vile, gluttonous thief (Michael Gambon, The Singing Detective) spews hate and abuse at a restaurant run by a stoic French cook (Richard Bohringer, Diva), but under the thief’s nose his wife (the ever-sensuous Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect) conducts an affair with a bookish lover (Alan Howard, Strapless). Clothing (by avant-garde designer Jean-Paul Gaultier) changes color as the characters move from room to room. Nudity, torture, rotting meat, and Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs) at his sleaziest all contribute the atmosphere of decay and excess. Not for everyone, but for some, essential.—Bret Fetzer, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Click here to purchase The Cook, The Theif, His Wife & Her Lover

Delicatessen

A post-apocalyptic future becomes the setting for pitch black humor in this visually intricate French comedy. The action takes place within a single apartment complex, which is owned by the same man that operates the downstairs butcher shop. It’s a particularly popular place to live, thanks to the butcher’s uncanny ability to find excellent cuts of meat despite the horrible living conditions outside. The newest building superintendent, a former circus clown, thinks he has found an ideal living situation. All that changes, however, when he discovers the true source of the butcher’s meat, and that he may be the next main course. This dark tale is played out in a brilliantly designed, glorious surreal alternate world reminiscent of the works of director Terry Gilliam, who co-presented the film’s American release. Like Gilliam, co-directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro hail from an animation background, and have a fondness for extravagant visuals, absurdist plot twists, and a sense of humor that combines sharp satire with broad slapstick and gross-out imagery. This mixture may displease the weak of stomach, but those attuned to the film’s sensibility will be delighted by the obvious technical virtuosity and wicked sense of humor.—From Amazon.com

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Dinner Rush

Dinner Rush is gourmet cinema, served with a generous helping of culinary panache. After countless commercials, music videos (including Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”), and a few obscure features, director and restaurateur Bob Giraldi casts his own New York eatery as a TriBeCa hot spot where the owner (Danny Aiello) presides over a busy night of fine dining and mob entanglements. He’s been a bookmaker for 25 years but he’s going legit; his son (Edoardo Ballerini) is a nuovo cuisine genius, eager to inherit the business; the sous-chef (Kirk Acevedo) is deeply in debt to mafia thugs; an art-dealer snob (Mark Margolis) is antagonizing his waitress (Summer Phoenix); a charming stranger (John Corbett) harbors a climactic surprise; and a powerful food critic (Sandra Bernhard) is ready to pounce on any wrong move. In perfect control of this bustling environment, Giraldi directs like a great chef cooks: with Altmanesque delicacy, confident that every ingredient is vital to the success of his creation. It’s utterly delicious.—Jeff Shannon, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Click here to purchase Dinner Rush

Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels was originally planned as one section of director Wong Kar-Wai’s best-known film, Chungking Express, but eventually it grew into its own distinct and delirious shape. In many ways, Fallen Angels may be the better film, a dark, frantic fun-house ride through Hong Kong’s nighttime world. Part of the film is a love story between two people who have barely met: a young, ultra-hip hit man (Leon Lai) and the dreamy operative (Michele Reis) who plans his jobs. Much of the movie is given over to a very strange subplot about a manic mute (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who goes on bizarre nocturnal prowls through a closed food market—like almost everything else in Wong’s films, this is antic, stylish, and oddly touching, all at the same time. It must be said that, also like Wong’s other films, Fallen Angels is fragmented and oblique to the point of occasional incomprehensibility…but then suddenly something wild or wonderful happens, such as the moment when the killer leaves the scene of a spectacular shooting and is promptly waylaid by a cheerful old school chum on a public bus. These coups—whether lyrical, violent, or simply “how on earth did they get that shot?”—are tossed off by Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle with all the cool of the hired killer, as though the movie were a cigarette dangling from a pair of oh-so-casual lips. This is exactly why so many otherwise calm critics fell all over themselves in hailing Wong Kar-Wai as one of the most exciting filmmakers of his generation.—Robert Horton, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Click here to purchase Falled Angels

The Last Supper

Painted in mile-wide strokes of black satirical comedy, The Last Supper turns intolerance into a parlor trick, then repeats it ad nauseam in case we missed the joke. Still, redundancy can be fun when applied to the premeditated murder of right-wing extremists by self-righteous left-wing zealots; director Stacy Title is an equal-opportunity offender, never taking sides. The grisly high jinks commence when a truck-driving, child-molesting, Hitler-loving ex-Marine (Bill Paxton, acing the role) is accidentally killed while dining with a clutch of snobby liberal grad students, played with uniform excellence by Cameron Diaz (showing early promise), Ron Eldard, Courtney B. Vance, Annabeth Gish, and coproducer Jonathan Penner. Having acquired a taste for blood, the wine-poisoning liberals stage “last suppers” with hand-picked targets (Charles Durning, Mark Harmon, Jason Alexander, and ultimately Ron Perlman), eventually attracting a suspicious sheriff (fine work by SNL alumnus Nora Dunn). It’s got all the subtlety of a pile-driver, but The Last Supper craftily defends free speech by exposing its most vicious violations.—Jeff Shannon, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Click here to purchase The Last Supper

The Legend of Alfred Packer

An eerie movie based on the true story of a man who led a group of hopeful gold-miners to a site in Colorado in 1873. The cold winter strands them from civilization and as rations run out, the only survivor, Alfred Packer survived by resorting to cannibalism.—Melissa Hom,TheNibble.com

 

Click here to purchase the VHS tape.

The Legen of Alfred Packer

Meals on Wheels

A truly international production, Wheels on Meals teams up Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao in a comedic-action-crime caper that includes what some consider one of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed. Directed by Hung, the movie takes place in Spain, marking the first Jackie Chan vehicle set in a non-Asian location. Chan and Biao play two lunch-truck restaurateurs who are trying to make a living selling egg rolls and hamburgers in the busy squares of Barcelona. Hung is a novice private investigator searching for a beautiful pickpocket named Sylvia (Lola Ferner) whose thieving teams her up with Chan and Yuen. Sylvia is kidnapped after she discovers she is actually a wealthy heiress, and that’s when Chan, Yuen, and Hung join forces to free her and kick some bad guys’ butts. Wheels on Meals is lighthearted fun with stunts and action scenes (including skateboarding tricks and a scene in which Chan and Yuen face off against a motorbike gang) that simply reaffirm the stars’ physical and comic talents. The celebrated fight scene is a matchup between Chan and international kickboxing champion Benny “the Jet” Urquidez. The intensity of their scenes together spurred rumors of a rivalry beyond the film. Whether or not this was true, the two paired up again four years later in Dragons Forever. As for the nonsensical title, one theory claims the film’s distributor (Golden Harvest) had little success with films whose titles started with “m” so they simply switched the two words around. The DVD boasts subtitles in eight different languages but does not include the “blooper” outtakes that frequently accompany Chan’s films.—Shannon Gee, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase on DVD.

Meals on Wheels

Return of the Killer Tomatoes!

You’re not going to believe this, but Return of the Killer Tomatoes is a genuinely funny movie. Ten years after John DeBello made the frowzy, low-budget Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, he brought the fleshy fruit back for a murderous encore. Like the first film, it works as a parody of horror-movie conventions (and it repeatedly makes fun of itself, Mad-magazine style), but this time the budget is higher. There’s a great, ongoing send-up of product placement, plus a juicy role for the oft-underutilized John Astin, as the evil genius this kind of movie needs. Just to keep everything moving, another exploitation film keeps cutting in: Big-Breasted Girls Go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off. It ain’t high art, but this movie knows its audience. A young George Clooney plays one of the heroes.—Robert Horton, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Return of the Killer Tomatoes

Soylent Green

Charlton Heston seemed fond of starring in apocalyptic science-fiction films in the late 1960s and early ’70s. There was Planet of the Apes, of course, and The Omega Man. But there was also 1973’s Soylent Green, a strange detective film (based on Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room!) set in 2022 and starring Heston as a Manhattan cop trying to solve a murder in the overpopulated, overheated city. His roommate (a necessity in the overcrowded metropolis), played by Edward G. Robinson, tries telling him about a better time on Earth before there were no more resources or room left; but Heston doesn’t care. Directed by Richard Fleischer (The Vikings), the film has a curious but largely successful mix of mystery and bleak futuristic vision, somewhat like Blade Runner but without the extraordinary art direction. This was Robinson’s last film and he’s easily the best thing about it; his final scene seems terribly appropriate in retrospect. Joseph Cotten makes an appearance as the man whose murder results in the revelation of a shocking secret.—Tom Keogh, from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Soylent Green

301- 302

301-302 explores the mysterious disappearance of one of two young women who live across the hall from each other in a modern apartment complex in Seoul, Korea. The women, referred to by their apartment number, each share common yet dissimilar obsessions. Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. —From Amazon.com

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Click here to purchase 301-302 on DVD

   


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