2 movie reviews & a rant for The Food Network
We've viewed several movies lately, and off the cuff, here are a few: The Departed, Ghost Riders, Epic Movie, Deja Vu, Borat, The Illusionist, The Queen (seems like anything that begins with "The" is "the thing", right now) and I'll admit I don't know when a movie becomes a film and when a flick is just a flick, but 2 of the movies we viewed did seem rather more filmish to me:
The Painted Veil and Babel both offer what I like to see in a film, a story or plot, and a director/producer with the balls to show it to the audience at a pace they chose and not knuckling under to the wants and whims of an A.D.D. culture that we seem to have become. I should probably continue to come at this review from the negative, to say these films offered less of what I don't want to see in a film: gratuitous sex and nudity, or sex and nudity scenes not germane to the plot, with a rinse and repeat of gore and violence. These films did not offer a compromised vapid plot, the tone and time-line all jacked-up for the sake of a lot of exploding cars, buildings and bodies. The Painted Veil and Babel, did NOT feature any bionic body parts, souped-up vehicles or weapons, or any other Terantinoesque features--not that I'm saying Terantino hasn't contributed to the general excitement of movie-watching with Pulp Ficiton, Resevoir Dogs, Kill Bill, etc., because he certainly HAS, and I am a huge fan of some of his flicks.
The Painted Veil was definitely slow, but it was also very pretty, both performance-wise and cinematic-wise. It's true, The Painted Veil couldn't get out of its own way, the plot unfolding with the speed of the last of the Heinz Ketchup making it to the mouth of the bottle held upside-down, but I have to think in the end, it *was, mostly worth the wait.
Babel, now this film is certainly interesting and thought provoking. Yes, it does have violence, and sex, and nudity, but all of these elements seemed necessary and appropriate to the plot. The film takes place in three countries, Morocco, Mexico and Japan, and the United States by proxy, and is somehow very compelling to experience. However, again, if you're looking for frenetic and pumped-up, you may be disappointed, but if you're looking for unique and unusual, stimulating and even poignant, you may be pleasantly surprised.
As for my rant for The Food Network? I ask, has TFN lost its mind? If you happened to see their newest "The Next Food Network Star", (second season?) which began anew the other night, which, if you're not familiar, yet another of their reality elimination concepts, so ubiqutous these days, I'm not sure there is anyone left who has not seen one show or another like it. YadaYadaYada, a dozen or so contestants are chosen, presumably from video material submitted, to compete for a slot as a regular TV host on the network, (last show's winner I think is doing a Dives and Drive-Ins show, and I don't think he is doing a whole lot of 'cooking' for that particular segment. Anyway, the new show offers the winner a cover and article in Bon Appetit, a chance to be seen, to become a culinary *STAR*, whatever the case. Well ! I think Mr. Tushman and his crew must've eaten a few too many MaryJane brownies out of the Food Network ovens when they formulated the vision for this series. It would seem they got this series mixed up with another of their series, the one called "Top Chef". This latest "The Next Food Network Star" starts out as a joke. Bobby Flay, Tushman and a woman (I can't remember her name or title right now) pit eleven 'cooks' against each other for the winning title and their own show. Some of the contestants are referred to as "home cooks", some are caterers, some are line or sous chefs, you get the idea, they're food people in some capacity. But watching this newest show, what got to me was this--the network came up with some of the most ridiculous and unrelated to Food-Show-hosting ability tests and exercises imaginable, like cake decorating under the eye of the Ace of Cakes guy, or breaking into two teams and preparing a wedding feast, a la Dinner Impossible, under the eye of Chef Robert Irvine, tasked to provide food for a vegetarian bride and groom and their 100 guests, shopped for and prepared and presented, all within 6 hours. Somebody tell me how these contestants are able to prove themselves camera savvy or television kitchen personalities by teaming up with 4 or 5 other contestants, frantically shopping and chopping and cooking in the kitchen of a reception hall? Frankly, just how does any actual degree of culinary skill equate to being the face and voice for a Food Network Segment? I'll compare it to fashion modeling. A runway model vs. a magazine model. Does a magazine model need to know how to posture, walk, stand, turn, vamp to a live audience? No. The photographer and "people" do all that for a photo-model, and the model just has to have the ability to wait for long periods of time in hair/makeup/outfits/duct tape, and then do the shot when the shooter says "Go". I'm thinking this: if a Food Network Chef/personality knows the basics about food preparation and convection, knows a spatula from a whisk, a sauce pan from a wok, how to use small appliances and gadgets--AND, can string a sentence together and has hair and all of their teeth, and display them with a ready smile, have a fair amount of charm and cool under fire, then by all rights, they should be able to perform in whatever capacity is required for the Networks' desired show and its outcome. Everyone knows on a T.V. cooking show that they also have *people* to do most of what the viewers at home see happen. These personalities simply need to be able, if need be, to scoop out a mound of Alpo onto a Triscuit, make it look appealing, sell it to the viewers, and they've done their job! If I were either of the two contestants who got told they were eliminated in the part II of the first segment, I'd be having a pow-wow with the network VIPs, accusing them of head-up-tushness, questioning the fairness of the criteria they were judged by, and demanding they review the theme of the contest, and reinstate me on the third season show. I'm sure these eleven contestants, especially the 2 eliminated so far, are saying to themselves, "WTF ? if I had wanted to be on "Top Chef", I'd have tried out for "Top Chef"!
Where would most of the non-chef current FN stars be right now if they had had to jump through the same hoops that Flay and Tushman and that very kind woman (sorry, I can't think of her name) are setting before the current contestants. I would LOVE to see Rachel Ray or Robin Miller or any number of the current Food Network show *stars* submit to these same trials set before these wannabes--I wonder how nifty-looking a wedding cake Rachel could construct--or let's see Duff, the Ace of Cakes guy, lead a team turning out an entire wedding banquet in 6 hours--and not just the cake!
If you saw the (2 hour!) show, the other night, and feel the same way I do--perhaps Mr. Tushman and his crew should be shown a link to my blog. I think the guy--Patrick?, and the Brazilian girl, Vivien ?, got robbed and ripped--they never had a chance to show their abilities in front of a camera--all they got to show is that they may not (in theory) be a winner on "Top Chef".
BTW, I'm going to come back and edit all of my spelling mistakes--but only after I get rid of this crazy headache that has attached itself to my head and neck. It has been one thing after another today. What gives? Is the planet wobbling? Mississippi River still flowing from North to South?