Editor's note: "Through a Screen Darkly," a monthly commentary by CT Movies critic Jeffrey Overstreet, explores films old and new, as well as relevant themes and trends in cinema. The column continues the journey begun in Overstreet's book of the same name.
I want to see Julie and Julia, which opens this week. Meryl Streep makes a habit of being extraordinary, and casting her as Julia Child seems too good to be true. But I'm hungry for something more than memorable acting. I want to watch the food.
Movies about food have always held my attention. Mention Animal House: I think of the food fight. Mention Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, and I think of the man who ate too much—precisely, one after-dinner mint too much—and suffered disastrous consequences. When I think of The Fisher King, I think of a romantic scene in a Chinese restaurant, where Robin Williams and Amanda Plummer chased a sprig of broccoli around the table with their chopsticks.
With Pulp Fiction, I remember Vincent Vega as a violent buffoon—but also because of his feelings about five-dollar milkshakes and the "Royale with Cheese." In Kung Fu Panda, Po desires dumplings as much as Pooh Bear has a passion for honey.
In Stranger than Fiction, Harold Crik falls for a baker named Ana because she's beautiful and challenging. But Ana also gets Harold's attention because she talks him into tasting one of her chocolate chip cookies. That cookie is like a kiss breaking an evil curse, awakening him to a new world of sensation.
In Mostly Martha, the main character runs her restaurant kitchen as if she were a general at war, with no room for mistakes. But when she ends up caring for her orphaned niece, and makes room in her life for a chef with unconventional ...1