A word about my film selections. I consciously choose films that are generally life-affirming and contain a minimum of violence. I also look for films that are intelligent or thought-provoking so that they lend themselves well to discussion. Finally I choose films that are either domestic sleepers or foreign pictures that few are likely to have seen. I do not choose films based on their inclusion of food, but if they have natural menu associations, all the better.
About Elly From Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi, About Elly is a psychological suspense drama about a group of friends reuniting for a holiday by the Caspian Sea. Their lighthearted fun takes a sudden turn when Elly disappears. Pair it with an Iranian dinner like this one: Iranian Menu
About Time was written and directed by Richard Curtis, of Love Actually fame. The protagonist learns that the men in his family can travel back in time within their own lives, setting the scene for many lovely do-overs and ultimately for a reflection on how we experience time. The family frequently gathers on the Cornish coast for interminable “teas,” so I am making high tea. You could have pasties if you aren’t overly ambitious.
Al Otro Lado Made in 2004, this quiet movie focuses on the effects of parental immigration on children. Three subplots feature children left behind in Cuba and Mexico, and a child in Morocco who runs away to find her father in Spain. My dinner was multicultural, with Mexican appetizers, Cuban entree, and Moroccan dessert. Some tastes, like themes, are universal.
Amelie For some reason, it feels much more recent to me, but this film came out in 2001 and introduced the charming Audrey Tautou to a wider audience. A quirky, French romantic comedy, this film is utterly engaging and probably also launched gnomes as a pop culture icon. I paired it with contemporary French cuisine, but a good croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) would work too.
Amadeus You probably haven’t watched this 1984 film about Mozart in a dozen years. It’s worth another viewing, maybe with some Wiener Schnitzel.
A Man Called Ove–Based on the novel of the same name, this Swedish film is a wonderful reflection on growing old well. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and has received many kudos all over the world. Swedish food is simple and fishy. You could pair the film with a dish made from Ove’s Iranian neighbor’s ethnic tradition, since she’s the one who more or less rescues him.
Antonia’s Line This Belgian film won the Best Foreign Picture Academy Award in 1996 and very much deserved it. Based on the life of a matriarch shortly after WWII, it shows Antonia’s efforts to transform her home and her village into a strong, nurturing place where people of all kinds could be welcomed. I paired it with Belgian farm food.
The Artist won five academy awards for making an homage to silent films and film stars. The ultimate in nostalgic film, it still has much to say to us today about resisting change and attaching our identities to transient world views and experiences. Charming and ultimately inspiring and light-hearted.
As it is in Heaven Made in Sweden in 2004, this film was a nominee for best picture in a foreign language at the 2005 Academy Awards. When an international orchestra conductor has a breakdown, he returns to his small Swedish village to recover. This is a film about community, about healing, and about the power of music to unite people. I paired the film with a Julbord in December. For help with your Julbord needs, see Ingebretsen’s.
Babette’s Feast The grande dame of all food movies, this one is set in 19th-century Denmark. When a French refugee comes to live with a taciturn, ascetic Danish sect, she prepares a dinner-of-a lifetime for them. The looks on their faces are priceless. Of course, classic French cuisine is a must for this film.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a surprisingly interesting film about an isolated community living on the wrong side of the levee in Bathtub, Louisiana. Cajun food fits perfectly. You must include chicken, shrimp, and or crawfish.
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a lovely Brit film about pensioners (retirees) trying to stretch their money in India. Fantastic cast, great acting, involving subplots. My Rajasthani menu was a hit.
The Big Easy While it’s not cinematic genius, I do enjoy this 1986 murder mystery set in New Orleans. It’s a natural for a Creole dinner.
Big, Fat, Greek Wedding I suppose everyone has seen this adorable Greek American movie since it seems to air on a regular basis. Serve it up with spanakopita, moussaka, baklava, and ouzo, and soon you too will have parties in your front yard.
Big Fish Directed by Tim Burton in 2003, Big Fish contains equal parts fairy tale whimsy, fine acting, and personal drama. Alabama food is fine eatin’.
The Big Night Two Italian American brothers make a last ditch effort to save their restaurant by preparing an enormous feast for a critic who may or may not show. A fine film. Here is a fine menu for it.
Bliss This is perhaps the best film to come out of Turkey to date and has won many prizes. Filmed in 2007, it tells the story of a young woman sentenced to death for having been raped. Her cousin is called home for the job, but life has other plans for both of them. I prepared a Turkish dinner and found this site to be very helpful.
The Book Thief is based on the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak. The film focuses on two survivors of World War II, young Liesel, a refugee forced to live with a strange couple, and the Jewish refugee they are hiding in their cellar. While the narration by Death is a little clunky, Geoffrey Rush delivers a fine performance as Liesel’s adopted dad. I am pairing the film with a Hanukkah dinner in December.
Bottle Shock recreates the year the California wine industry came into its own by winning the Judgment of Paris. We celebrated the 40th anniversary with a wine-tasting (chardonnays and cabernets) and a spread of classic 1970s appetizers.
Bread and Tulips When her husband and son leave her in a highway cafe while on holiday, an Italian housewife decides to go to Venice without them. There she tries on freedom and remakes her life with the help of a few odd friends. My menu was Venetian with an emphasis on freeing foods, like Italian Cream Cake.
Bride and Prejudice In 2004, I could not resist this Bollywood take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. If you like Indian dance, costuming, and lively story-telling, you’ll enjoy this film. The absolutely gorgeous actress, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, stars in it. Wedding curry, anyone?
Captain Abu Raed Made in 2007, this Jordanian film won the international “Most Moving Picture” award. When an aging airport custodian finds a pilot’s hat and wears it home, the poor children in his neighborhood beg him to tell them stories about the places he’s been. At first reluctant, eventually Abu Raed becomes deeply connected to the well-being of his young neighbors. The Complete Middle East Cookbook was great help with my Jordanian dinner. As was the Holy Land Deli in Minneapolis.
Captain Fantastic is probably the worst named movie ever because it has nothing to do with super heroes. It stars Viggo Morentensen who was nominated for an Oscar for this role. He is a father trying to raise his six children off the grid in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. When they are forced to go into civilization, things become challenging. Watch it. It’s great. I’m serving forest-to-table food with it.
Caramel is a Lebanese version of Steel Magnolias with naughtier characters living in a much stricter culture. Odd but there you have it. Female friendship is front and center. Make the Lebanese Caramel Date Fingers recipe I posted, then eat the whole pan with a girlfriend while you watch the movie.
Casanova This 2005 historical romance starring Heath Ledger was a bit of a sleeper, but it is chock full of sex, romance, adventure, mistaken identity and intrigue. Filmed in Venice, it’s a lovely spectacle as well. When in Venice, . . .
Case Histories is actually a 9-episode series from BBC Productions. It is set in beautiful, old Edinburgh and stars the powerful actor Jason Isaacs as a tough guy detective with a soft heart. Add to this that it is based on a novel of the same name by Kate Atkinson, and you’re guaranteed a strong showing. I paired it with classic Scottish dishes–cockaleekie soup, steak, mushroom, and ale pie, and sticky toffee pudding. But no haggis. No thanks.
Certified Copy is a European art film, starring French actress Juliette Binoche, British actor William Shimmel, and Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. With all the trappings of a romantic movie, it is actually a meditation on love and marriage. Set in Tuscany, it is perfect for some bruschetta and the best chianti you can afford.
Chef is a foodie movie slash road trip that actually made me want to leave Scotland where I was teaching when I saw the film and return to the States where I could get the delicious food they were showing–Cuban sandwiches, Texas BBQ, and beignets–as well as hear the amazing music featured. Watch it. It beats haggis and bagpipes.
Chicken Rice War I know you have never heard of this 2000 film. I lived in Singapore for a while and was introduced to it by my students. Believe it or not, it’s a comedic Romeo and Juliet tale set in two rival chicken rice hawker stalls in Singapore. If you can understand the Singlish, you will love this movie. Since it’s served cold, Singapore Chicken Rice makes a nice summer dish.
Children of Heaven Two children. One pair of shoes. Watch as two children try to hide the loss of a pair of shoes from their poor, stressed parents. Made in Iran in 1997, this film is both nostalgic and inspiring. I am relying on my Complete Middle East Cookbook for help with this dinner.
Chocolat Johnny Depp. Great acting. Johnny Depp. Chocolate. And did I mention Johnny Depp? I made a dinner with chocolate in every course. My favorite find was Chicken in Chocolate Port Wine Sauce.
Danny Deckchair This film was a bit of a sleeper in 2003. A romantic comedy, Australian-style, I find it completely charming, quirky, and just plain fun. Rhys Ifans plays a highway worker who accidentally flies away in a deckchair rigged with helium balloons. Where he lands turns out to be just the place for him. My Australian dinner had some classics like BBQ shrimp and some twists like mango cheesecake.
Departures Winner of the Best Foreign Film Academy Award in 2009, this Japanese film tells the story of an unemployed cellist who answers an ad for work in departures, expecting to be a travel agent. Instead he learns the formal ceremony of preparation for the final departure. A lovely film, pair it with Japanese take-out or make some sushi.
Eat Drink, Man, Woman This family drama wins for most mentioned film in a dinner and a movie context. You could take the easy path and get Chinese takeout.
English Vinglish is a charming film written and directed by Gauri Shinde and starring Sridevi. Shashi comes to New York to help with her niece’s wedding and decides to learn English. Her relationship with the students and teacher changes her status within the family and her own self-confidence. My dinner will feature New York street food from each of the nationalities in the class. Be creative!
Everything is Illuminated Made in 2005, this film features Elijah Wood as a young, Jewish man seeking the woman who saved his grandfather in the Ukraine, during WWII. While there is plenty of drama, it also has an offbeat sense of humor that I really enjoy. My featured dish for this dinner was Ukrainian Walnut Torte which easily weighs 12 lbs. My guinea pigs dubbed it the Battlecake Potemkin.
Finding Fanny is a quirky comedy set in Goa, India. With an all-star ensemble cast, the film features Ferdie’s search for his long-lost love. It tips the whole Hindi cinema love template on end with touching and realistic results. I served Goan food. See my menu.
The Full Monty In this charming British comedy, six ordinary, down-on-their-luck Sheffield men get the notion that they could make some real money by becoming male strippers. Their special feature? They’ll go the full monty. We saluted their courage with a British sausage fest.
Hair is a great film dating back to 1979 but a film adaptation of the Broadway play. The quality holds up, the music is amazing, and the messages are still potent and relevant. Modern hippie food–organic, vegetarian, global, local–is the best.
The Help makes a great choice for a summer D and M gathering. Smart, funny, political but not intensely so, it pairs oh so well with Southern cuisine. Nominated for four academy awards in 2012, it won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Food and Wine created a menu with recipes.
Hidden Figures is a strong, feel good movie about African American women who helped the U.S. win the Space Race in the 1960s. A number of D and M folks declared it their all time favorite. I paired it with a 60s style Texas Barbecue. Easy dinner!
The Holiday Okay, yes, it’s a sappy chick flick with the holidays featured just in case you need more sentiment. But it’s really a sweet film with great acting. Since the main characters exchange houses (England and California) I decided to do an English/California fusion Christmas dinner inspired by the Christmas Buffet menu at the California Country Inn in Devon. For California techniques, I relied upon Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a quirky, New Zealand film starring Sam Neill as a bush man and Julian Dennison as a young Maori boy running away from foster care. This is a creation of the comedian/director Taika Waititi. Funny and touching. To stay in keeping with the film you could have sausages, some kind of pork, salad, and kiwi pavlova.
Hysteria This is a charming love story set in Victorian England during the “hysteria” epidemic. The invention of the vibrator by Dr. Mortimer Granville was one of the better solutions. (That and giving women the vote.) Don’t cook English food. Make the sexiest food you can think of. Start with my Chocolate Truffle Tart recipe.
The Illusionist This 2006 film was set in 19th-century Vienna, but the filming took place primarily in lovely, old Prague. It’s full of mystery, drama, and romance–perfect for a fall evening. It’s set in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and I decided to cook Hungarian food because one of my neighbors is from Hungary, and she could teach me a few kitchen tricks.
Imprint is “an old-fashioned ghost story with a Native American twist.” That pretty much says it all. Set on Pine Ridge Reservation, the film explores Shayla’s family and tribal conficts while she tries to solve the mystery of who is haunting her. If you can find bison roast, go for it. If not, you could always make some Three Sisters Soup and fry bread.
Incendies This “staggering” film was released in Canada in 2010. The screenplay was written by Lebanon-born writer Wajdi Mouawad and directed by Denis Villeneuve. Roughly translated as “scorched,” Incendies explores some of the unexpected devastations of war for women and children. Rather than do a Lebanese dinner, I made a dinner purified by fire.
Into the Woods While not as lighthearted or funny as the Broadway version of Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful musical, the cast of this film does a creditable job. I made a fairy-tale dinner with Cinderella’s pumpkin soup, Jack’s beans, Red’s basket of goodies. You get the idea.
The Intouchables is a wonderful film about a millionaire quadraplegic who hires a young, black man from “the projects” as his caregiver. Their friendship is funny, genuine, wonderful and inspiring. This is based on a true story and has received off the charts great reviews.
Julie and Julia The latest French food film, Julie and Julia is based on Julie Powell’s attempt to cook her way through Julia’s oeuvre. With Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, it’s a sure winner. Warning: if you attempt to cook with Childs’s recipes, clear your calendar for two days and stock up on butter, like two sticks/guest.
Kahaani is a wonderful suspense thriller set during the festival of Durga Puja in the bustling city of Kolkata. Something of a star vehicle for actress Vidya Balan, the film lives up to her talents. I recommend reading up on Durga Puja for an added level of appreciation. I expanded my Indian cooking repertoire to try out some Bengali fish and dal recipes for this dinner.
Kinky Boots In the spirit of Full Monty, Kinky Boots features Charlie Price, a young man facing the impending shutdown of the family shoe factory. After a chance meeting with Lola, a drag queen cabaret star, Charlie and Lola plot to save the factory by producing stylish, kinky boots. I am making a British Christmas dinner for this film with a few kinky twists to it.
Kolya From the Czech Republic, Kolya won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1997. A confirmed bachelor and musician in Soviet-occupied Czechoslavakia, our protagonist marries a woman for money and ends up alone with her son. This, of course, changes his life. A touching film and with pork roast, red cabbage, potato dumplings, poppyseed cake, Czech beer and more, what’s not to like.
Like Water for Chocolate This magical realism film is based on the novel by the same name. While the quality is aging somewhat, it’s still a terrific film that will stay with you long after you watch it. Pull recipes from the novel, like my favorite one, Champandongo.
The Lives of Others Amazing film set in East Berlin shortly before and after the fall of the wall. Set to spy on a popular playwright and his actress partner, our protagonist begins to have second thoughts about his chosen profession. This won Best Foreign Language Film of the Year in 2007. I paired it with classic German dishes like sauerbraten, red cabbage, and strudel. You could hide little cameras around to set the mood.
Love Actually I actually love this film. It has every British actor you have ever loved and then some. It has about eight subplots so caters to the attention deficit. It has romance, holidays, humor, heartbreak, sexy scenes, and more. I did pair it with a Brit Christmas dinner with help from another lovely Brit, Nigella Lawson.
Mickybo and Me is a film out of Northern Ireland depicting two boys–Catholic and Protestant– during “The Trouble” in the 1970s. Inspired by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they become little outlaws. This is a charming and funny movie but very hard to find outside of the UK.
Midnight in Paris 2011 Academy Award-winning film (Best Writing, Original Screenplay) directed and written by Woody Allen. The film is smart, humorous, beautiful, and generally satisfying. It lends itself well to a classical French menu.
Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare comedy. Fabulous cast. It’s worth a look. Make something from Shakespeare’s Kitchen.
Monsoon Wedding Mira Nair’s 2001 family drama about an arranged marriage takes place in New Delhi during monsoon season, so with all the relatives comes the rain. Punjabi culture is known for being lively and fun-loving. Punjabi food is wonderful.
Mostly Martha A French-trained, German chef is wound a little too tight. When her equally taut and recently orphaned niece comes to live with her, the situation is rough. The new Italian chef at Martha’s restaurant arrives to cook up a solution. I paired this film with the Italian dinner Mario prepares in order to melt Martha and Lina’s hearts.
Much Ado About Nothing A 1995 Kenneth Branagh project, this Shakespeare remake has an all-star cast and is set on an old estate in Sicily in the summertime. A Sicilian picnic makes a lovely pairing.
Murder by Death This vintage Neil Simon comedy stars Truman Capote, Maggie Smith, Peter Falk, Peter Sellers, David Niven and more. It’s a spoof on drawing room mysteries and features a wonderful script and hilarious acting. Pair it with a fall dinner like this one.
Murder on the Orient Express has been produced in several versions. My preference is the BBC production with David Suchet. He is the perfect Hercule Poirot. This is a lovely period drama with sleuthing galore and elegant appointments. My dinner features a dish from each of the countries through which they pass.
Mustang is the first film by Turkish-born, French-reared writer/director Deniz Gramze Erguven. Based on this first effort, I expect great things from her. The film focuses on five orphaned, free-spirited sisters. Their grandmother and uncle seek to control their sexuality by marrying them off to men in the village. The youngest sister sees the others’ misery and seeks another outcome. Turkish food is so good. At the very least, make some pistachio baklava.
My Life in Ruins Nia Vardalos follows up on her success with Big, Fat, Greek Wedding as an uptight travel guide in Greece. Intent upon teaching her reluctant tourist group, eventually she learns that they can teach her. Funny, romantic, and scenic film. Our Greek dinner included spanakopita, moussaka, souvlaki, salad, and baklava.
New in Town While it won’t win any big awards, I have a soft spot for this romantic comedy because it’s set in Southern Minnesota where I used to live. It also makes much of the cold weather stamina of northerners and the earnest integrity of their small towns. I paired it with a classic Minnesota meal–meatloaf, potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, three kinds of jello, and the film’s feature: tapioca pudding.
Philomena is a lovely film, starring Judi Dench, so you cannot go wrong with it. The main character is searching for her son who was taken from her and adopted out while she was living in a Magdalene asylum for unwed mothers. Steve Coogan also does really well in the film as the journalist who helps in her search. Irish food is good comfort.
Phoenix is an atmospheric, Hitchockian drama set in post-WWII Germany. When a woman survives the camps and must get plastic surgery to repair the damage of a bullet, she gets a chance to see if her husband was actually the one who turned her over to the Nazis. There is little or no violence in the film, but a lot of human drama. German food is nice, but you might just want a big helping of Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte for this to sweeten things up.
Places in the Heart is an 80s film that still resonates. First class acting by Sally Field, Danny Glover, and John Malkovich brings Depression era Texas to life. Bring on the fried chicken and corn bread stuffing.
Possession This atmospheric film is based on A.S. Byatt’s novel by the same name. Two literary scholars race against competition to find new evidence about classical 19th-century English poets. Mildly suspenseful, romantic, and smart, this film also features great acting. Cook something poetic.
Queen was a huge hit in India, marking a real shift away from happily ever after romance movies while still keeping a happy ending. You could have a nice Punjabi dinner with it or have French and Dutch food since Rani travels to Paris and Amsterdam to find her moxie.
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi/A Match Made By God Bollywood rules! And this film is especially charming with superstar Shah Rukh Khan playing two roles and then newcomer Anushka Sharma as female lead. Khan plays a middle-aged geek in love with his young, beautiful wife and needing to find a way to gain her favor. It’s full of great music and dancing as well as a compelling plot. Make chicken biryani or tandoori and gol guppa, along with basmati rice and naan. Punjab Party!
Raise the Red Lantern This highly acclaimed 1991 Chinese film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. It is set in the 1920s in a wealthy castle where several wives live in their separate houses and plot against one another. Into this setting comes 19-year-old Songlian who is forced into marriage with Chen Zuoqian. Beautifully filmed. I went for irony and prepared traditional Chinese wedding dishes.
Rear Window is the classic Hitchcock film, featuring Jimmy Stewart as the adventurous photo-journalist stuck in his stuffy, New York apartment with a broken leg and nothing better to do than to spy on his neighbors. Grace Kelly plays his beautiful and intrepid girlfriend. One of the best mystery suspense movies of all time.
The Rocket is described by critics as heartwarming, charming, gentle, and suspenseful. It tells the tale of a Laotian boy believed to be cursed from birth. First leading his family on a dangerous journey to a new home, he then seeks to prove he’s not cursed by entering a rocket competition. Laotian cuisine shares much with Thailand. If you’re in a city, get takeout!
Royal Affair has been celebrated as the finest historical drama to be made outside of Hollywood. Set in the pre-Enlightenment court of Denmark, it has intrigue, illicit sex, madness, and peasants with pitchforks. At the very least you should have some herring and red cabbage. Or maybe just Danish pastry.
Salaam Bombay This powerful film was an early one (1988) for noted director, Mira Nair. It focuses on the lives of children living on the streets of Bombay.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a charming film starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. When the British prime minister’s head of PR looks for some good news about the Middle East, she settles on a wealthy sheik’s crusade to bring salmon to the Yemen desert. The Sheik’s British agent’s first job is getting the Scottish salmon expert to listen to her. Dinner featured Yemeni salmon in red sauce, saffron rice, khoubiz, eggplant salad, and, my favorite, creme caramel with cardamom.
Scoop A Woody Allen mystery from 2006, starring Woody himself, Scarlet Johanssen and Hugh Jackman, Scoop is a good summer flick. Jackman is English nobility, so I had to make Beef Wellington.
Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman and directed by Ang Lee never strikes a false note. Ever. It’s a lovely film based on the Austen novel. You could have an English tea party or Regency picnic with it.
Shakespeare in Love Fine acting, great plot, beautiful actors, and the average person can actually understand it. Check out Francine Segan’s cookbook, Shakespeare’s Kitchen. The recipes are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before but fun to try.
Sherlock This 2010 BBC production brings a contemporary Sherlock Holmes to the screen complete with modern complications of our technological world. It’s very smart, fast-paced, complex and engaging. Benedict Cumberbatch is an attractive Sherlock–“brainy is the new sexy.” While an English menu of Shepherd’s Pie and the like may be more old school Sherlock, it’s very satisfying fare in the winter time.
Slumdog Millionaire A surprisingly big hit in 2008, this won eight academy awards, including Best Motion Picture. A young Indian Muslim man reflects back on the wild journey that has brought him to gameshow stardom. Mumbai street food seems most appropriate, but maybe not so handy. At the very least, you need some chai.
The Snapper If you’re looking for a St. Patrick’s Day choice, you might start here. Sharon Curley is 20 and still living with her parents and multiple siblings in a tiny house, when she gets drunk at the local pub and knocked up in the parking lot. Sharon refuses to name the father of her baby, and her village comes to blows over the scandal. Equal parts humor and pathos, this Irish film has its serious moments about the effects of alcohol on family and community life. You just have to try Beef and Guinness Pie with this film. Add Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, and you’re well on your way to the pub parking lot.
Tampopo This 1985 Japanese picture is a must-see for film foodies. The main plot focuses on a truck driver helping a failing noodle shop find the best noodle dish (yes it’s spoofy), but there are some fabulous and memorable vignettes sprinkled throughout the film, focusing on the power of food. For your noodle search, start here.
The Tango Lesson Sally Potter’s 1997 film about learning how to tango dance is fairly slow-moving, but it’s mesmerizing if you like dance. The film moves from London to Paris to Buenos Aires. I cooked an Argentinean dinner with this–steak, chimichurri, dulce de leche, . . . I admit, I have not tried these recipes, but they look promising. I have a fabulous chimichurri recipe from the now closed Magnus that you must try.
Tell No One is a French thriller based on the novel by Harlan Coben. For a suspense film, it provides a surprisingly nuanced reflection on fatherhood. Because the film begins and ends with the central couple’s lifelong-picnic place, I made a French picnic. You could do Salade Nicoise and raspberry clafouti for starters. Add some crusty bread and a bottle of good wine. Bon Appetit!
Today’s Special is a really charming flm about an Indian family in New York City. Dad runs an Indian restaurant while the son is a French-trained chef. When Dad has a heart attack, guess who has to learn on the fly? Part Restaurant Impossible, part Chopped, part family drama, and even part romance, this film is a new foodie classic. Cook something from the French Indian fusion cookbook Raji Cuisine.
Under the Same Moon–In the hope of providing a better life for her son, Rosario works illegally in the U.S. while her mother cares for Carlitos back in Mexico. Unexpected circumstances drive both Rosario and Carlitos to embark on their own journeys in a desperate attempt to reunite. Look for some authentic Mexican food.
Under the Tuscan Sun Based on the novel, this film is worth watching for the Tuscan scenery, if nothing else. Diane Lane’s performance, and the restoration of her crumbling Tuscan house are also moving. Here’s a starting place for Tuscan recipes.
Wajdja is the first full-length motion picture to be shot in Saudi Arabia. Made by a female director, it features a girl on the brink of adolescence who still likes to race with the neighbor boy and badly wants a bicycle. Meanwhile her mother is sorting out her own difficulties with living under Sharia law. Wonderful film.
Where Do We Go Now is a masala movie out of Lebanon. One reviewer described it as a “cheerful mess.” There is logic to the mess, but I think you have to channel Indian masala to get it. Full of tragedy, comedy, realistic characters, and farcical dramas, it has something for everyone. Nadine Labaki co-wrote and directed it. She also stars in it. Her husband composed the score. In it, the women try to keep their Christian and Muslim menfolk from killing each other and come up with a variety of interesting solutions. I made Makloubeh, Upside Down Company Platter, because their lives are often upside down.
Winter’s Bone The Ozarks in winter provide a stark backdrop for this powerful film about a high school girl who must find her drug dealer father and get him to court or risk losing the house where she, her two young siblings, and her mentally ill mother live. You’ll swear they grabbed the actors off the street, it’s so real. My Ozarks dinner mostly came from an issue of Midwest Living, but I also used Silver Dollar City’s recipe for mountain succotash.