“Don’t Look Up” stole my ending

The story so far:

  • Writer/director Adam McKay attracted big names (Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, Timothée Chalamet, Rob Morgan, Mark Rylance, etc) to depict the apocalypse.
  • Movie critics are luke-warm – Don’t Look Up rates only 55% on Rotten Tomatoes (“slapdash, scattershot sendup”).
  • But some scientists say, “Please watch – this is just what it feels like.”

Both sides have a point. As a movie, Don’t Look Up falls short of the artistic clout of, say, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) or Dr Strangelove (1964) – and both rate 98% on RT. But the new movies is breaking streaming records, and gets a 78% audience rating.

As to the scientists’ pleas, the movie might demonstrate the benefits of following “the science” in terms of peer-reviewed facts. The discovery of the fatal asteroid by astronomy postgraduate (Jennifer Lawrence) should have benefitted humanity.

But the movie also reveals reasons to be sceptical of “the scientists” – with teams of them aiding and abetting capitalism, personified here by a tech billionaire with a life-long dream of shooting himself into space.

The final flourishes of capitalism deserve greater movies, and Don’t Look Up’s audience success will surely stimulate more.

The immediate question here, nonetheless, is whether Don’t Look Up goes on my list of best foodie movies. Okay, it’s more about the distractions, vividly capturing Guy Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle” of political illusion, tv chat, TikTok, bottled water and packet snacks.

Eventually, the movie also turns to the only serious contender for human grounding, where? – to a simple meal.

However, the care and consideration of sharing food and conversation is what we need right now, not when it’s too late!

Don’t Look Up is compulsory viewing – it illustrates what happens when greed trumps appetite. Nevertheless, to get a real grip on the issues, I recommend Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy (2020). The endings are similar, but the paths are different.

Jennifer Lawrence

“Delicious” joins the great foodie movies

Words are the aspect of meals that helps their planning, description and acclamation.

Likewise, movies are additions – before, after, or with a glass of wine or popcorn –  that can also proclaim dining’s centrality to human existence.

Any good movie is bound to include meals. Charlie Chaplin shares his boiled boot in Gold Rush (1925). Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play battling barristers in Adam’s Rib (1949), so that George Kukor establishes their happy domestic relationship by them working comfortably together in the kitchen.

It’s not enough just to show pretty food to make a foodie movie – that’s like bringing in stars like Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal without actually establishing their love.

Foodie movies (initial list below) have to bring the whole world together, however fleetingly. As Italian cook Primo reveals in Big Night (1996): “To eat good food is to be close to God.”

Délicieux (Delicious) (2021)

Where does Eric Besnard’s new movie, Delicious, rate on the foodie scale?

Not up with Babette’s Feast, but what is? But it sits alongside, say, The Truffle Hunters (2020) and Pig (2021).

Some movie reviewers mustn’t be blessed with the “sacred fire” that Brillat-Savarin described, so that they “regard meals as hours of enforced labour, put on the same level everything that might nourish them, and sit at table like an oyster on its bed”. Accordingly, critics who found Pig merely a trite satire revealed they had missed the central, dramatic point.

In Delicious, another big, obsessive chef has also retreated to the woods, but, whereas Nicolas Cage’s recluse produces one overpowering meal, Grégory Gadeboi’s character ostensibly opens the first restaurant a few days before the French Revolution.

Not that Delicious even tries to be accurate in its details. By 1789, a new kind of dining had already emerged based on restoring broths or “restaurants”, served in private booths. Even more to the point, Antoine Beauvilliers had already brought aristocratic dining to the streets of Paris.

I talk about these developments, and explain why true restaurants are “open domestic households”, in Meals Matter.

Overall, nonetheless, through unashamedly fictional means, Delicious makes bigger statements about the fundamental importance of gastronomic pleasure, and its relationship to French foundation myths.

It is, for example, entirely believable that the French Church decried underground produce as further from God – chef Manceron combines potatoes and truffles in his little pastries that give the movie its title.

In anticipation of you catching Delicious, I won’t give more of the plot, except to disclose that Isabelle Carré, although not so well known outside France, is mesmerising.

Initial list of foodie movies:

Tampopo (1985); Babette’s Feast (1987); Chicken and Duck Talk (1988); Au Petit Marguery (1991); Like Water for Chocolate (1992); Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994); Big Night (1996); Chocolat (2000); Mostly Martha (2002); Sideways (2004); Ratatouille (2007); The Trip (2010); The Lunchbox (2013); The Truffle Hunters (2020); Pig (2021); Délicieux (Delicious) (2021).

Add your favourite foodie movies in the comments.