A friend who just signed up to Netflix wrote to ask about movies featuring food as a main theme. At first, it seems like a fairly long list, but then if you eliminate the mediocre remakes and overly sentimental goop, it’s manageable and fun. Here are the best, in my view: Babette’s Feast (reverential but sumptuous and sincere); Ratatouille (makes haute cuisine fun); The Big Night (good acting and story, great food);Tampopo (Japanese noodle nuttiness);
Eat Drink Man Woman (Chinese poignancy and sensuality); Mostly Martha (German chef’s special, pointlessly remade as No Reservations in the same dumbed-down way Eat Drink Man Woman and the TV remake of Christmas in Connecticut were); Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara Stanwyck, b&w, screwball comedy at its delicious best). Borderline, too sticky for me, Like Water for Chocolate. . . . Best restaurant moment is of course Jack Nicholson trying to get breakfast in a roadside diner, in Five Easy Pieces. Funniest eating moment is Stan Laurel confronting a live frog in his soup in Way Out West, and for cooking, Jack Lemmon draining spaghetti with a tennis racquet in The Apartment. Drinks? Giuletta Massina introducing us all, with sweet sensuality, to sangria in Juliet of the Spirits.