Friday, September 30, 2011

Movie Review: Rango

Nickelodeon Studios primarily makes television shows targeted towards kids. These include RugratsSpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Odd Parents, and Avatar: the Last Airbender. Later they started producing movies that were based off of their best selling television programming. This is how we got Good Burger (1997) and The Rugrats Movie (1998) among others. They did a few films that were not blatant advertisements for their television show such as Harriet the Spy (1996), Snow Day (2000), and Charlotte's Web (2008). Most of their movies have been less than stellar. Then along came Rango (2011), directed by Gore Verbinski. Given Nickelodeon Movies’ running streak of mediocrity, Rango didn’t even make it on my list of movies to see. Fortunately, I ended up seeing the movie anyway.
Rango (Johnny Depp) is a sheltered chameleon living as an ordinary family pet. He keeps himself entertained by being a method actor, acting out his own plays with inanimate objects as other characters. While traveling, the family car hits a bump sending, Rango and his cage flying off the vehicle and out into the desert. After wandering in the desert for some time, he comes across the gritty, gun-slinging town called Dirt. Dirt is populated by a host of wacky, lawless desert creatures, which makes the timid Rango stick out like a sore thumb. Rango uses his acting skills and conjures up an old west style character to help him try to blend in; this is where he comes up with the name “Rango.” This new persona is welcomed as a last hope for Dirt, which is slowly dying of thirst. Rango is made Sheriff to help figure out why the water is gone. Sheriff Rango’s efforts stir up some nasty villains and political intrigue.
I think the most blaringly obvious positive quality of this movie is the animation. This is some of the best CGI I’ve seen, comparable to the quality of animation that has made Pixar so successful. There’s so much detail in the characters: you can see the scales on the lizards, distinguish the feathers on the birds, and most impressive is the animation for the water. Water played a significant driving force in this story so it needed to look good. Water is very difficult to animate well; it needs really detailed control over the particle effects and lighting. Rango pulled this visual effect off brilliantly. The characters are designed to be zany and exaggerated, but still have lots of detail and care behind them. They just bring to mind some of the hand drawn characters from classic animated features. Another great thing about the animation is the color. Rango used such vibrant colors that it was almost difficult to take your eyes from the screen at any point. It is obvious that Rango was created with loving attention and detail by the artists involved in its production. Computer generated imagery can be a quick shortcut in animation, but shouldn’t be an excuse for creating low quality animated films.
The character Rango, himself, is quite interesting. He’s good natured, and hilariously naïve, but makes his way through his problems apparently by drawing inspiration from western movies he must have seen. He lacks confidence, but does his best not to let the townsfolk of Dirt see it. As a chameleon, Rango is meant to blend in, which he tries to do. But great responsibility is placed on Rango; how do you aim high when your purpose in life is to blend in? Rango (not Johnny Depp) really does improvise as he makes his way through the story, sort of inventing his character as he goes. I don’t particularly believe that the “fake it ‘till you make it” philosophy is a very good one to approach a problem, but Rango does just that, and he does make it; ultimately becoming the character he made up for himself at the beginning.
The story in Rango is absurdly creative! It kind of pays homage to a lot of old western movies, but includes a lot of comedy. The more westerns you’ve seen the funnier this movie will be. If Blazing Saddles (1974) was CGI animated with silly desert animals as the characters, you’d basically have Rango. It is delightfully non-formulaic. I kept thinking to myself, “yeah, here’s the part where they realize he’s not the gun-slinger he says he is.” But the movie didn’t do it. I kept expecting cliché story elements to pop up, but most of them didn’t; and the ones that did were done in a creative, unpredictable way. This gave the movie an invigorating, fresh quality to it.
I’m glad I ended up seeing Rango. It was fun, creative, humorous, and well designed and executed. It's a satire of a lot of old westerns. I'm sure if you're a fan of westerns you'll get a big kick out of it. And if you're a fan of silly comical animated movies, you'll also get a big kick out of it. It’s a good, clean family film that is intelligently written to keep viewers of all ages entertained. I am not the center of the target audience for Rango, but for those who are in the target audience, I recommend adding this movie to your DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

What movie have you seen in the last year that significantly exceeded your expectations? Why did it surprise you so much?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

We don’t seem to be getting a lot of original stories as of late. A lot of films seem to be based off of books, based off of comic books, based off an older movie, and even a few based off of TV shows. These are given labels like remake, reboot, and the nebulous label of “reimagining.” Batman was rebooted with Batman Begins(2005) and was such a success that it will be a long time before we accept a non-Christopher Nolan Batman. There was a recent 2010 remake of a 1981 fantasy movie, Clash of the Titans, by the same title. Director Tim Burton attempted to remake the 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes in 2001, which had a pretty negative critical reception. There were five original Planet of the Apes movies, followed by a live-action television series and an animated series. This was later followed by the Tim Burton monstrosity. Realistically, the first Planet of the Apesmovie starring Charlton Heston was the only good one of the lot, but the franchise has made a significant cultural impact. We seem to revere the original Planet of the Apeswith some degree of reverence and respect. This is why, when 20th Century Fox produced yet another reboot entitled Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) directed by Rupert Wyatt, some of us cringed.
Will Rodman (James Franco) has a personal stake for developing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease; his afflicted father Charles (John Lithgow). When a chimpanzee shows remarkable progress with the latest strain of the cure, Will presents his findings to his boss, Jacobs (David Oyelowo), to show that the drug is ready for human trials. During the presentation, the chimp goes on a rampage and the Board of Directors pulls the plug on the program. It’s not until after the other test chimps were put down that they realized the rampaging chimp was protecting her infant. Unwilling to put down an infant chimp, Will takes it home to keep it safe. Charles has taken to reciting Shakespeare and incidentally names the infant Cesar. As Cesar grows up, it becomes evident that he has inherited the enhanced intelligence from his mother. Cesar reaches an unprecedented level of cognition and intelligence, and begins to question his own identity, wondering whether or not he is a pet. Will uses the cure he developed on his father, who ends up making a remarkable, but temporary, recovery. Will shows Jacobs the results and research begins again. Charles’ condition worsens and Cesar attacks a neighbor who is angry at Charles for attempting to drive the neighbor’s car. Cesar is sent to a primate facility by court order. Here he interacts with other apes for the first time in his life, and suffers some animal abuse by Dodge Landon (Tom Felton), one of the facility's workers. The abuse that Cesar endures causes him to resent some humans; he ends up leading a mass exodus and revolution against the humans.
If you look at any movie poster or website about Rise of the Planet of the Apes you see “Starring James Franco” plastered all over the place. Whoever did that can’t possibly have seen the movie. James Franco is really more of a supporting character. The main character is without a doubt Cesar. The motion capture for Cesar is done by none other than Andy Serkis; a phenomenal actor who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Kong in Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake. Cesar’s character is actually quite complex and interesting. You can really empathize with what Cesar is going through, and relate to him when he’s finally had enough and chooses to revolt. Cesar isn’t out to kill the humans; he’s fighting for his freedom. He stops some of this fellow apes from killing some of the innocent bystanders, and he still has a relationship with Will. Cesar has to be one of the more interesting movie characters this summer. This is Cesar’s story, not Will Rodman’s.
It seems to me that the central theme in Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of loss and abandonment. There is the often overused “man playing God” kind of theme where humans try to control the forces of nature and it blows up in their faces. Frankenstein (1931) and Jurassic Park (1993) are both examples of that theme. There’s also the premise of using potentially dangerous animals to try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease; that is exactly the same premise in Deep Blue Sea (1999 where sharks are used instead of apes. In Rise of the Planet of the Apes Will is trying to prevent the loss of his father, in addition to trying to fight the government so he doesn’t have to abandon Cesar. Cesar on the other hand lost his mother at birth, he’s abandoned by Will, and he loses some friends during his revolution. Loss, abandonment, and not having someone to comfort you when you are subjected to cruelty are causes of emotional hurt that strikes a chord with the audience. I think that is what makes Cesar such an interesting and relatable character. Under the same circumstances, would we not feel sad, lonely, or angry enough to retaliate ourselves?
If you are a fan of the original Planet of the Apes movie, you’ll notice a few throwback references in this new adaptation. You’ll see Charlton Heston briefly appear on a TV, Cesar’s mother is called “bright eyes,” and Cesar is constructing a model of the Statue of Liberty in one scene. Tom Felton’s character, Dodge, gets the honor or delivering two of Heston’s most memorable lines from the 1968 film: “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!” and “Take your stinkin’ paw off me you damn dirty ape!” I’m not so sure Tom Felton has earned an exalted enough status to speak such sacred lines on camera, but to his credit he delivers them well and the scenes in which they were spoken were very dramatic and powerful and even left me stunned for a moment. Generally a remade movie will make some references to the original movie that they are (in most cases) destroying. There are plenty of them here, but unlike some remakes, this one doesn’t beat you over the head with them. Other references are really subtle. The orangutan at the primate facility who befriends Cesar is named Maurice, a nod to the actor, Maurice Evans, who plays the orangutan, Dr. Zaius, in the original film. If you haven’t seen the original film, you won’t be missing anything important in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was indeed a good movie. It was worthy of having the words “Planet of the Apes” in its title. It has interesting characters, a good storyline, great effects, and some nostalgic references in it. There is a big set up for a sequel, and I would welcome it; I left the theater wanting to know what would happen next to Cesar and his newly formed community of intelligent apes. I enjoyed this enough that I want to get a copy on Blu-Ray when it becomes available. If Tim Burton put you off of ever watching another Planet of the Apes movie, do your best to block it from your mind and go see Rise of the Planet of the ApesBatman and Robin (1997) did precede Batman Begins, after all; a rebooted movie can do better than its predecessor.

So, did you see Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Did you like it? Did you not like it? Tell me why. What is your favorite ape movie you’ve ever seen? Comment below!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Movie Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Generally, when a non-movie media become popular some Einstein in Hollywood thinks there needs to be a movie based off of it. These have varying degrees of success. Movies based on books usually do okay; comic books tend to be hit or miss; and TV show movies tend to be pretty bad. They have yet to make a good movie based on a video game, with the worst probably being the Super Mario Bros. movie (1993). Disney had some success with making Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl(2003) which was based on the Disneyland attraction. Evidently, Disney thought that with the success thatPirates of the Caribbean brought them, a similar production based on a long running video game series would be good idea.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) is set in a romanticized ancient Persia. In the prologue, King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) adopts an orphaned street urchin, Dastan, to rear along with his other sons. King Sharaman thought Dastan was worthy of becoming nobility because Dastan defended another boy who was being beaten and then escaped by running around on rooftops. Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) grows to become a reputed warrior and prince. After receiving information that the Holy City of Alamut is supplying weapons to the enemies of Persia, Dastan’s adoptive brothers Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) and Tus (Richard Coyle) prepare to attack the city. While attacking the city, Dastan comes into possession of a strange dagger. King Sharaman stops the attack and arranged for the marriage of Tus to Alamut’s princess, Tamina (Gemma Arterton). Dastan is later framed for the mysterious murder of King Sharaman. Dastan escapes with Princess Tamina who tells him about the dagger’s power to send its wielder back in time by a few seconds. Dastan and Tamina set out to discover who is behind the false rumors about Alamut, the murder of King Sharaman, who is after the time-altering dagger and why.
Similar to Pirates of the CaribbeanPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time is full of silly characters, over the top action scenes, and special effects. The only Prince of Persia game I’ve ever played was in 1989 on an Apple II computer. The storyline there wasn’t any more complicated than that of Super Mario Bros. game in 1985: save the princess. Other Prince of Persia games have been released, but I don’t know how the movie compares, as I have never played the more recent ones.
Dastan is a painfully generic hero character. He’s inherently good and incorruptible; he isn’t challenged by moral dilemmas, he just does the right thing because he’s good. This makes him very uninteresting. He’s also a carbon copy of every Persian hero to ever grace the silver screen; Disney’sAladdin (1992) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940) come to mind. He’s really not any different at the end of the movie than he is at the beginning. He’s just boring.
Tamina drove me nuts! There’s hardly a single line that she speaks to Dastan that isn’t somehow insulting, demeaning, or challenging of his capabilities or competence. She was bratty, untrusting of anyone, and would stab Dastan in the back at her earliest convenience. Why on earth were they in love by the end of the movie!? I would have tied her to a cactus half way through the movie and left her for dead. The romantic interest between Dastan and Tamina had no basis or logic behind it. The meager romance was included for the sake of having romantic scenes in the movie. Towards the climax of the movie Dastan has Tamina by the arm over a cliff, keeping her from falling to her death. I actually shouted at Dastan to just let go and put her out of his misery. She is pretty, but I’d like to think there should be more requirements to being a princess than just being pretty. Tamina is one of the worst damsels in distresses I’ve ever seen.
The action scenes were rather confusing. A lot of the movie was filmed in front of a green screen. The backgrounds occasionally didn’t match up with the movements of the camera very well, which gave the viewer a vague sense of space. On top of this the camera was often doing close shots of the actors fighting. This gave you a good sense that something was happening, but not a good sense of what was happening. Yes they are fighting, but what is it they are doing and who is winning? I felt like I should be on the edge of my seat, but I wasn’t sure why since I couldn’t tell what was actually going on.
At one point, Dastan is sinking in huge sinkhole of sand. I’m not really sure how he got there and it certainly doesn’t show how he got out. One moment he’s in the sinkhole, the next moment he’s on this cascading waterfall of sand tumbling down towards a cliff. It doesn’t show Dastan falling through the sinkhole and onto the sand-waterfall; it doesn’t show him escaping the sinkhole only to fall again into the sand-waterfall. This is more an issue of bad editing than confusing action scenes.
Not only were the characters uninteresting and shallow, but I wasn’t really sure what they were fighting for. Sure, keep the Dagger of Time away from the evil Uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley), but what happens if he gets it? They could just reset time they way they want it. No one has a risk of dying; they just go back in time a few seconds and prevent the death. They do this several times in the movie. So, if you can just correct anything with the dagger, who cares of Nazim becomes King of the Persian Empire? Who cares if anyone dies? It can just be corrected.
Disney seemed to be trying to make another swashbuckler action movie with Prince of Persia, but the movie just ended up being really underdeveloped and shoddily done. If you look at it in the context of being a very simple fairy tale with some over the top action scenes, it becomes slightly more palatable. The movie is also such light viewing that you could put it on as background noise while cleaning the house, catch glimpses once in a while, and still not miss anything. It’s a pretty clean movie, too. It would be alright for a family movie night with kids, but really there are much better movies you can watch as a family.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel Studios has been busy as a bee since 2008, introducing a variety of Super Hero characters. Each character has their own movie, and some even have multiple movies. We have two Iron Man movies, a Hulk movie, a Thor movie, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has appeared in all of these movies to varying degrees. There’s even a third Iron Man and a second Thor movie in the works. Any comic book geek with knowledge of the Marvel universe could see what was coming after the post-credits scene in Iron Man (2008).  Nick Fury showed up telling Tony Stark (Iron Man) that he’s not the world’s only super hero and wanted to discuss the "Avenger Initiative". The last of The Avengers team that hadn’t shown up yet was Captain America. I didn’t think Captain America’s story would be hard to do, but it might be tricky to do well. But after seeing how well a Norse god became relatable, I felt confident and ready to see Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
The year is 1942; World War II is in full swing and the United States has entered the fray. Thousands of young men are volunteering to join the army to serve their country. One among them is Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a short, ninety-five pound asthmatic with a heart of gold who has just been rejected yet again for military service. Rogers’ life changes dramatically after encountering Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) at a recruitment center. Dr. Erskine is impressed with Rogers and recruits him for the top secret “Project Rebirth.” After proving his extraordinary courage, intellect, and morals, Rogers undergoes a Super Soldier experiment conducted by Dr. Erskine and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) that transforms his weak frame into a body at the peak of human strength and potential. Dr. Erskine is immediately assassinated by an agent of Nazi Germany’s secret research department, HYDRA, which is operated by Johann Schmidt, also known as The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Schmidt has been using an object of remarkable power called the “tesseract,” believed to have come from the Norse God Odin’s throne room, to create space age weapons and supply Nazi Germany with an unlimited energy-source for world domination. Rogers is deemed too valuable to be put on the front lines and is misused initially as a propaganda mascot. However, when his comrades who had previously enlisted need his help, Rogers springs into action to aid them and truly becomes Captain America, the hero, not just the symbol. This is where Captain America’s war against the Red Skull truly begins.
My biggest concern with this movie was that the character Captain America would be portrayed as a gung-ho, pro-America, nationalist, which seems to be the extent of modern day patriotism. Thankfully, this was not so. Captain America: The First Avenger (directed by Joe Johnston) has something to say about patriotism and where the true strength of America lies. This aspect of the character and plot was not played up quite as much as I was expecting, but it was not belittled or avoided as I had feared. Steve Rogers did not join the military out of a sense of vengeance or bravado as many of his comrades had. He joined out of a sense of justice and a desire to protect the oppressed. This was depicted in an exchange between pre-Super Soldier Rogers and Dr. Erskine. Erskine asks, “Do you want to kill Nazis?” to which Rogers replies without hesitation, “I don't want to kill anybody. I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from.”
We’re shown the other side of war where patriotism can be used as propaganda. Initially Steve Rogers is given a rather eccentric costume after the Super Soldier experiment so that he can help promote the war and sell it to the American public. He is given an embarrassingly simple script to recite about buying war bonds while a line of dancing women are singing pro-America jingles. This ends badly with Captain America throwing a fake punch at a stage actor portraying Adolf Hitler. Rogers is clearly uncomfortable with this and desires to take a more active and useful role in stopping the Nazi bullies. This really is the type of simplified gung-ho nationalist-like patriotism that the character Captain America is not about and I appreciated that they made this distinction in the movie.
In most movies, especially superhero movies, they spare no time in having the newly empowered hero confront the villain and dive headlong into the action scenes. Not so in this movie.Captain America: The First Avenger really spends time developing the Captain America character. This really is an origin story that develops the character at his heart; the movie is more character driven than action driven. There is an action “montage” rather than lots of fighting scenes. This was used to depict Captain America’s multiple successes and shield-smacking victories before getting into the bigger, more plot-specific battles. But don’t worry; when the action arrives it’s really good; I was on the edge of my seat for many of the scenes. There were even a couple of moments during the action scenes that were unexpected and a bit shocking, such as a henchmen meeting a grotesque demise by a propeller.
All the characters were fun and well developed. Steve Rogers’ flame, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), was interesting, pretty, confident, and independent. Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) was gruff, practical, logical, and helped push Rogers’ to his best potential. Howard Stark (who is the father of the not yet born Tony Stark; Iron Man) is a lady killer, arrogant, creative, and resourceful. All these characters play off of each other really well. No one character is given a bulk of the humorous lines which was a somewhat mediocre device done in Thor (2011).
My only real complaint was the Red Skull. Every good hero needs a good villain; the nastier and more devious the villain, the more interesting the conflict. The Red Skull seemed to be lacking in purpose. He seemed to simply want to take over and destroy the world for the sake of taking over and destroying the world. It was almost as though all the lackluster qualities of a generic throw-away villain were stuffed into what is ordinarily an iconic super villain from the Marvel Comics universe. I have heard Red Skull is supposed to possess a superior intellect and inventive genius, as well as being a highly gifted subversive strategist and political operative. We did see some creative genius as he made ray guns and all manner of sci-fi gadgets with 1940’s technology. But you don’t get a feel for his intellect, political machinations, or strategic plotting. The Red Skull as a character is just about the only major character that seemed flat, generic, and undeveloped. He fills the role of “nasty, ugly villain” quite well, but his depiction in this film just seemed cliché. I can overlook this shortcoming a bit since Captain America is the main focus and there needed to be a struggle over which he could prevail. Such a struggle allows us to see what Captain America is made of and ultimately understand his part in the upcoming Avengers movie.
As opposed to the excruciating Captain America movie that came out in 1990 (trailer here) which, with good reason, no one seems to remember, Captain America: The First Avenger really was a fun movie with a good, fairly solid story. The movie demonstrates the message that patriotism is not about strength. It is about compassion and justice. Patriotism is not about how loud you cheer for your country or how many bad guys you kill. It is about how much you are willing to sacrifice to protect the helpless. Those are real patriotic American values. I enjoyed this movie enough that I intend to get a copy of it on Blu-Ray for my personal collection when it becomes available. This movie will be pretty intense for younger audiences, but it might be worth the effort to show them once they can handle some intense action scenes. Captain America is a hero of good morals and character that would be good to help them model in their own lives.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Movie Review: Julie & Julia

The 2009 film Julie & Julia (PG-13), directed by Nora Ephron, is unquestionably a foodie film. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams play two women in different time periods struggling with finding their personal identity and self fulfillment through cooking. As a foodie myself, this really resonated with me. The film could be considered a “chick flick.” However, the cliché tropes that chick flicks all seem to have in common are more of minor story elements on the sidelines rather than the whole story itself.
The movie has two stories being told simultaneously. Julia Child (Meryl Streep) is trying to find fulfillment in life instead of simply being a housewife in France. She discovers her love of cooking at the Cordon Bleu Academy in Paris, and proceeds to take on the insurmountable task of publishing a French cook book in English for Americans. Julia Powell (Amy Adams) is working in a cubicle at a stressful job she doesn’t like, and gets the idea to blog about cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s book within a year. Both women already enjoy cooking; Julia enjoys cooking for her husband and Julie uses cooking as a means of stress relief. Then they find a way to use this already existing talent they had not given much attention to before to attain greater fulfillment. It is fascinating how these women’s experiences are developed to have so many parallels. Julie has the occasional meltdown when the recipes fail or events in her life keep her from cooking the recipes. Julia has to face some sexism and discrimination for being American in a French cooking school as well as rejections from publishers. The drama comes in when each woman encounters bigger and bigger opposition but remain true to their commitments to themselves.
Of course you want both to succeed, but if Julia doesn’t succeed, then Julie will never get the book Julia is writing and still be trapped in her miserable situation. This creates an interesting dynamic in the story’s chronology. Of course you know that Julia Child will succeed in part because she is such a renowned figure in culinary arts and a television personality that you, the viewers, are probably familiar with. Also, Julie’s story could not be happening if Julia hadn’t eventually succeeded. That doesn’t keep you from sympathizing with Julia’s losses and letdowns and hoping she makes it through. Anyone who’s ever had a crappy job or had a dish they were putting a lot of time and effort into explode in their face can sympathize with Julie. Each of the characters’ personalities and problems are so believable and relatable that you can’t help but feel a connection to them. Julie and Julia characters are so well written and acted out that you can’t help but fall in love them. Also, Meryl Streep mimicking of Julia Child’s distinctive mannerisms and voice is uncanny and highly entertaining.
Another thing I was highly impressed with was the set designs. Much of Julia Child’s story takes place in France. Upon hearing the director’s commentary on the Blu-Ray, only a few parts were actually filmed in France, the rest were filmed in American locations (like New Jersey) that had French-like architecture. These sets were so seamlessly integrated with the actual French locations that you would never have known that some of the France scenes weren’t actually filmed in France.  Julie’s story takes place in Queens, New York City, and mostly in her apartment. Julie’s kitchen is prohibitively small and not the ideal place to cook fine French cuisine. The apartment is said to be 900 square feet, and it really feels that way. Most everything in the apartment feels cramped and confining; it really helps sell Julie’s desire to break free from her life constraining circumstances.
Julie & Julia was a good movie with endearing characters, great visuals, and a believable story that I think anyone could relate to. You don’t need to be a foodie or have a passion for cooking to enjoy it. I thought this was an inspiring story about getting out of the mundane doldrums of life, finding your passion, and embracing it with abandon. I recommend this movie to anyone in a similar situation, who likes a good dramatic movie, or who enjoys a good “foodie film.” Bon appétit!