Friday 4 March 2016

El Jefe

We are founder members of the Blackstairs Film Society which meets one weekend night a month during the Winter [Sep-Apr] Season.  I've mentioned this cultural lifeline before.  It's a lot more convenient than the Tinahely Film Group which we only go to occasionally.  They've been running in Tinahely since the days of 16mm film-stock and have a pee-break in the middle of the film - to recharge the wine glasses and critique the current film with your neighbours.  Originally this was to fill the time while the reels were changed but the members insisted on retaining the custom when DVDs replaced 16mm. Blackstairs is run by a committee who select films from a limited stock supplied by Access Cinema Ireland.  Access Cinema "Our mission is to provide all audiences throughout Ireland with access to the best of Irish, world and independent cinema, via our national network of non-profit and voluntary organisations.".  It's a nice little earner for the chaps mediating between Hollywood and Little People in rural Ireland [that would be Leprechauns?].

A few years ago, the BFS committee decided to show Babette's Feast, a gorgeous and funny 1987 film about food melting Calvinist hearts. They were inspired to serve food during the film and it was a mighty success.  The audience on Film night can be very thin if it's miserable weather and they are showing a docudrama about a neurosurgical hospital in Cambodia but there were loadsa punters for Babette.  It was only partly because the BFS demographic can remember 1987. The following year, they did the same idea with Like Water Like Chocolate aka Como agua para chocolate a magical-realist Mexican film from 1992. And last year we had dahl and chapattis with The Lunchbox.  It is a bread-winner for the Society which is limping along barely solvent from year to year.

This weekend, we were served tostadas, empanadas, and cubanos with Chef, a 2014 film [trailer] [nother trailer] starring Jon Favreau and Scarlett Johnansen, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. in minor-but-brilliant roles. It's a pretty straight-forward feel-good movie about a Chef who is sacked from his position at a high-profile LA restaurant and redeems himself and his relationships by working a taco-truck from Miami to Los Angeles.  The chef's son goes along for the ride and comes to realise that the catering trade is hard, hot, work but rewarding if you give it your all. Same as teaching in The Institute except that I don't eat my creations.  I was telling Dau.II aka Cookie about the film but she said she'd seen it already "on the internet"; I bet she didn't get free empanadas with it, though. We both agreed that it was stupid for Scarlett to be serving food with her silky blonde locks dipping into everything: could she not tie it back?  We insist that the long-hairs to do that in the labs in The Institute; it's safer.

Chef was okay, no more. Dustin Hoffman is great as always but the sound-quality was not so good; we could have done with sub-titles. It doesn't help that the kid talks with his mouthful all the time: yes, yes, I realise it's a metaphor about accepting the father's world. The Cuban music is catchy but often loud enough to drown out important fragments of dialogue.  The end is IMO a cop-out but you may go see it so I won't do a spoiler now.

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