29th Jun2014

Chef – Film

by timbaros

images-194Chef, now playing in cinemas, is a real treat, from start to finish.

Jon Favreau, who also wrote, produced and directed, plays Carl Casper, a chef in a popular Los Angeles restaurant. He’s in control of his kitchen, and proud of the food that he makes for his customers. However, one day a restaurant critic (Oliver Platt – who actually looks like a restaurant critic), eats in the restaurant and then proceeds to give it a bad review, lambasting Casper’s cooking, Not happy with this, Casper, at the urging of his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), opens an account on Twitter and starts tweeting bad things about the critic, picking up hundreds of followers in the meantime. Casper decides to give it another go with the critic, so via Twitter he invites him to the restaurant to eat a new menu he plans to prepare. However, this doesn’t go well with the owner of the restaurant (Dustin Hoffman), who says they will stick to the menu they’ve got and that if Casper doesn’t like it, he can walk away. Casper does walk away, much to the dismay to the rest of the restaurant staff, including Martin (a very well-cast John Leguizamo) and sous chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale). But Casper can’t stay away from the restaurant for two reasons, he’s dating the restaurant’s hostess (an unglamorous Scarlett Johannson) and he feels the needs to get even with the restaurant critic. So Casper decides to go to the restaurant the same night the critic is there, and, in front of all the customers and staff, yell at him and tells him he doesn’t know what good food is. After his rant, he is banned from the restaurant forever.
Deciding what to do next, besides spending lots of time with his son, his ex-wife Inez (an always good Sofia Vergara – who’s becoming quite the screen goddess) urges him to come with her and their son to Miami while she is on a business trip to take some time away and mellow out. She also urges him to have a business meeting with her ex-husband (a perfect Robert Downey Jr.). While there, he comes up with the idea of a new business – a food truck selling Cuban food. He buys a run down and dirty food truck, and with the help of his son, fixes it up and calls it ‘El Jefe.’ ┬áMartin flies in and wants to be a part of the new business so together they create delicious Cuban food, especially Cubanos – a Cuban Sandwich of cheese and ham. With his son, they take the food truck on a road trip back to Los Angeles, stopping in various cities along the way. Thanks to Emjay, they have quite a following on Twitter and Instagram and it’s with social media where they pick up loads of customers along with way, with queues stretching down blocks in every city. Arriving back in Los Angeles, they’re a hit and have a new business.
While the story of Chef is very predictable and could’ve been guessed without me writing about the entire plot, it’s, of course the food that plays a starring role in the film. Beginning in the restaurant to Casper making a delicious meals at his home, the food looks vibrant and succulent and delicious. And the Cuban sandwiches want to make you have one after the movie, so if anyone knows where I can get one in London, please write in! The cast is very good, and credit is due to Favreau who wore four hats in the movie (5 if you count his cooking in the film, well I presume it was him cooking) and for creating what is a simple film into such a delight. The rest of the cast is fine, with Leguizamo and Vergara bringing a va va va voom Latin spice to the movie. All in all, Chef is a pretty good movie. Please go see it, and you will definitely want to eat after.

 

29th Jun2014

Cold in July – Film

by timbaros

images-196Two television stars, one big and one who used to be big, pair up in the new film Cold in July. It’s a film that would actually play better on the small screen then the big screen.

Dexter’s Michael C. Hall plays Richard Dane, who works as a farmer to support his pretty wife and young son in a cozy clapboard house somewhere in America. One night while they are asleep, a burglar breaks into their home and Dane, in a moment of panic, shoots and kills him. Both Richard and his wife Anne (Vinessa Shaw) are stunned and frightened by this especially as their young son was sleeping in the next room. Richard is cleared of any murder charges by the local police – they say the killing was justified. But one person in town feels like the killing was unjustified, and that is a man who thinks it was his long lost son who was killed. Enter Ben Russell (Sam Shepard). He’s a town loner living on the outskirts in a run-down shack. He wants to get even with the Dane family, and he starts stalking them, driving by their house, shooting at their house, it appears he wants revenge. But Dane is skeptical about the burglar he killed, he insists it was not Russell’s son, and it turns out that it’s not actually Russell’s son, but unfortunately we never find out who it was that Richard killed as Russell’s son appears later in the film. Another unexplained part of the movie is that the local police try to kill Russell, we don’t know why, but luckily Dane was nearby and was able to save him.
Now enter private detective (and exbig television star) Jim Bob Luke (Don Johnson – formerly of Miami Vice). He’s been sent to investigate the murder and shows up in town as you would expect a man with the name of Jim Bob Luke would look like – a true cowboy – hat, boots and a southern accent. Who’s hired him is not explained.
To make a long story (110 minutes), Jim Bob and Richard, who are now best friend’s with Russell, search for more information, not about the man who Dane killed, but about Russell’s son and his whereabouts. How or why the plot takes this turn is not explained. They discover Russell’s son is involved in the making of snuff films (where woman are killed while in the act of a sexual act). This leads, predictably, to showdown between father and son and who’s going to take the first shot to kill each other. This plot device is supposed to be somehow related to Dane and the relationship he has with his son as Dane is front row and center when this showdown takes place. And before this showdown, him and the other two men were able to fight off and shootdown lots of other men. Not believable in the very least!
The acting in Cold in July is fine. Hall neatly steps out of his television persona to be credible in this role. Shepard doesn’t have much to do as his character doesn’t have much of a personality to work with. It’s up to Don Johnson to bring excitement to the movie in an otherwise confusing film. He embraces his role as the detective, providing a spark and more. He’s an actor who plays well on both the big and small screens. For what it’s worth, Cold in July is better viewed on the small screen, where I recommend you should watch it.