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A feast-ful of films In Focus by Richard Crouse FOR METRO CANADA August 07, 2009

waitress2The Food Network has a corner on small screen cuisine. Bobby Flay and Paula Dean simmer, sauté and sizzle twenty-four hours a day, bringing restaurant style cooking to the home chef.

Food plays a role on the big screen as well. Who could forget The Godfather’s “leave the gun, take the cannoli” scene or Annie Hall’s clumsy attempt to cook a lobster? But there’s food in movies and then there’s movies — like this weekend’s Julie & Julia — that make you want to eat something more delicious than a bucket of buttery popcorn from the concession stand.

Jane Austen was on to something when she wrote, “Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” Everybody loves pie and never have baked goods been as appetizing as they are in Waitress, the last film from director Adrienne Shelly.

Keri Russell plays Jenna, a world weary, pregnant waitress in the Deep South.

She’s also a “pie genius” with a knack for creating imaginative pastries. Mix in a handsome stranger, some gorgeous shots of the pies and you have all the fixin’s for a mouth watering romantic comedy.

On the more savoury side is Tampopo, a film advertised as “the first Japanese noodle western.”

In short (its plot splinters into many directions) the movie is about Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) a widowed noodle chef, who, along with truck driver Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) searches for noodle perfection.

Many films, like Babette’s Feast and Like Water for Chocolate, feature food as a metaphoric central theme but none are as loving or as loopy as the singular vision of Tampopo.

The greatest food movie of all time, however, stars Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as brothers and failing restaurateurs who pin their hopes of success on one special customer who will get them the notice they so deserve.

Big Night is pitch perfect from its portrayal of kitchen life to the very real relationship between the two brothers, but it is the presentation of the food that is so appetizing.

One critic said the movie’s food photography “is so good it’s hard to resist the temptation to reach into the screen and grab a mouthful.” Amen to that. One glimpse of the movie’s amazing Timpano di Maccheroni al Ragu and you’ll want to run, not walk to the closest Italian restaurant.

To paraphrase the legendary chef Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep in Julie& Julia), “Bon appetit and happy movie watching!”

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