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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 33

[33rd of 100]. Food in cinema is one of my favorite things, and there's a feast of it, from Like Water for Chocolate to Babette's Feast, from Mostly Martha to Chef, from Big Night to Ratatouille, from Tampopo to Kailangan Kita, from Julie & Julia to The Hundred-Foot Journey, from Burnt to No Reservations. Not all of them have been made with the requisite delicacy, but even the least of these contain extended food scenes -- either in the preparation or in the consumption -- that simply whet the appetite. I'm talking about films where the culinary occupies a central place in the narrative, not merely movies with memorable food scenes. In these films, food is usually an allegory for the travails of creativity, or a metaphor for what makes us human -- standing in for our consuming desires, our expressions of thanksgiving, our dreams of invention, our notion of community, our attempts at connection. All encapsulated in images of mouth-watering plenty. My favorite of them all is this gem from the early works of the Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee. He does what all these films set out to do, and does it in the vocabulary of Chinese cuisine, where he asks us to follow the domestic drama of an elderly widower -- a retired chef -- and his three daughters all ripe for love and the promise of life beyond the walls of their father's abode. The opening scenes alone, where the father preps a thousand ingredients for what seems to be a banquet of a "simple" Sunday family dinner, prepare us for the abundance of food in this film, and we are immediately rendered ravenous. But in the actual dinner sequence, which comes a bit later, we shockingly learn that all that food we've seen so far being prepared lacks the expected flavors; the father has long since lost his sense of taste -- which then prepares us for the conflict in this story: beneath the surface, something is not right in the dynamics of this family. And then the domestic hijinks unroll -- all the secrets and lies, all the passion and desire, giving us a domestic comedy like no other. It's a beautiful film, one of those that first opened my eyes to the glory of Asian cinema, and of the form that I wish its director would return to once again. What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.

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[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich