I've always loved Terry Gilliam's films (Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas), but the stuff that always brought a smile to my face were the animations from the Monty Python's Flying Circus TV series. I was reminded of the genius, humor and endearing quirkiness of those animations when I saw this advert by Frank, for Grans Brewery in Norway. Amazing work, Frank!
As a followup to the Top 5 "Food Movies" post, here's our best of list for "Food Scenes" from the silver screen. There are so many great ones, but here are a few of our favorites:
1. Gray's Papaya Picnic on a desert mesa - Fools Rush In You betcha – the NYC legend of hot dogs gets shipped across the country in the name of love! This is the way to a man's heart, ladies. Incidentally, this movie is full of other great food scenes, including meeting your future wife while waiting for the restroom at a Mexican restaurant, a pregnant pizza dinner in a half-built nightclub, a tamale-centric family fiesta with an unexpected guest, and of course – a Cinco de Mayo debacle involving insults to the guacamole.
2. The Fake Orgasm - When Harry Met Sally Sally makes her point in front of the lunchtime rush at a busy New York deli. Writer/Director Rob Reiner's mother chimes in with "I'll have what she's having," to put a somewhat cheesy (but still hilarious given the context) end to a classic food scene.
3. Michael's Initiation - The Godfather: Part I When Michael Corleone kills Sollozzo at Louis' Italian Restaurant in the Bronx, he's gone past the point of no return when it comes to the family business. Fittingly, this character transformation takes place in a sleepy family run joint in the Bronx. The scene was shot at an old place called Luna Restaurant, and apparently featured the real-life proprietors of said restaurant.
4. The Milk Check - The Big Lebowski However subtle it may be, the opening scene of The Big Lebowski find The Dude in the supermarket dairy section, opening a carton of milk for a quick taste test to ensure the freshness that is essential for a great White Russian, only to proceed to the checkout with milk mustache in tow. This is perhaps the perfect way to introduce the character.
5. Bad Dates – Raiders of the Lost Ark Again, food plays a quick supporting role here, but the tension created is genius. You see an assassin poison the bowl of dates right before Indiana grabs one to munch. Indiana all but eats the date a few times while chatting with Sallah, always interrupted by something. He finally gets a moment to eat, launching the date into the air. Sallah grabs it just before it drops into Indy's mouth, quipping "bad dates" as he looks over at the dead monkey next to the date bowl. Good old Sallah, always getting Indy out of trouble!
Another top 5 is on the way, but instead of film we'll focus on beer pairings!
I just watched Big Night again after several years and was compelled to put this short list together. There is something magic when great film meets food on screen eh?
1. Big Night Even with the sometimes questionable Italian accents, nothing beats Big Night when it comes to great films about food. I didn't notice this the first time I saw it, but there are a lot of scenes that feel like a Wes Anderson film – only with Italian music and a 1950s backdrop (as opposed to Anderson's usual classic British rock with a vaguely-vintage present-day setting). Bottomline – netflix this if you haven't seen it.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Gene Wilder and a river of chocolate. Enough said.
3. Spanglish Adam Sandler makes for a believable chef, lovable yet troubled family man, and IMHO has never done anything better dramatically (while still giving a good dose of funny). The scrumptrillescent late night snack of sandwich with fried egg and a beer always makes me yearn for The Linkery.
4. So I Married An Axe Murderer Yeah, this one counts. Much of the movie takes place in food & beverage establishments, from the open-mic at the cafe and dinner at home with the Scottish parents, to the hypothetical French toast breakfast with crazy-sister Rose and the love bird shenanigans at the Meats of The World butcher shop. Sidenote: best cover of Rod Stewart's Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? ever.
5. Mystic Pizza A favorite of my parents that stuck with me. The pizza place is the family hub that keeps the main characters together. I guess that's a similar thread for many of these films – how food brings people closer to share in the human experience. What do they put in that sauce???
The next list is already in the works – Best Food Scenes in Movies. A fake orgasm in a deli is sure to be present.