Producer’s Film Picks for September 2017

The theme for this month – Appetite for Conversation

Theatrical Release
The Trip to Spain (2017)
Directed by Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, The Trip.) Starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Marta Barrio and Claire Keelan.

“Winterbottom’s The Trip to Spain comes after The Trip (2010) and The Trip to Italy (2014), and although it’s the least of the trio, it has its moments. Coogan and Brydon once again pair up as rivalrous buddies who are comic versions of themselves. Coogan, a writer and actor, is on assignment to write yet another gastronomic magazine article, this time on high-end Spanish restaurants.” Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“Despite the beautifully sunny Spanish landscapes our heroes cross, there’s an autumnal feeling about this outing, the comedy glancing into more serious matters as the film goes along. There’s always been an undertone of competition between the two principals, with Coogan rubbing it in about his theoretically superior credentials. (He delights in mentioning his Oscar nominations for writing Philomena.) Both men are talented impersonators, and anyone who’s seen The Trip, with its on-the-nose Michael Caine imitations, will know.” Walter Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

“Raising a glass to all that is Winterbottom, the director of The Trip to Spain, the third in his successful series of gastro-comic road trips with duelling impressionists Coogan and Brydon. They’ve been to Northern England and they’ve been to Italy and now, it’s apparently time to take their semi-fictional comic-actor characters, improvised scenes and competing Michael Caine voices to the Iberian Peninsula. The itinerary for a working vacation and coastal tour calls for a week of pretentious cuisine, chic pastoral hotels and mid-life ruminations.” Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Archival Films
Tampopo (1985)

Written and directed by Jûzô Itami (Minbo: The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion.) Starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Koji Yakusho and Ken Watanabe.

“These may not have much bearing on Tampopo and her noodle education, but they all have to do with food and with the Japanese love of ritual that has made an art of slurping noodles, arranging flowers, drinking tea and committing suicide.

“The film’s writer-director, Mr. Itami, who’s also an actor (he played the father in The Family Game), seems to have a special fondness for the solemnity of the prose used by connoisseurs. His principal characters and even the bit players converse by exchanging the sentiments of food critics. Noodles that aren’t great are described as ‘sincere,’ and when Tampopo is on the verge of a noodle breakthrough, her admirer must say, in all frankness, that ‘they’re beginning to have substance, but they still lack depth.’ ‘Noodles,’ says a man searching for the perfect phrase, ‘are synergetic things.'” Vincent Canby, New York Times

Big Night (1996)

Written by Stanley Tucci and Joseph Tropiano. Directed by Tucci (The Impostors) and Campbell Scott (Off the Map.) Starring Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini and Ian Holm.

“Tucci plays Secondo, the younger but more polished brother of Primo (Shalhoub), a gifted chef on whose talents Secondo has gambled their prospects for success in America. The brothers left Italy to become great restaurateurs, artists of food in a little spot on the Jersey Shore in the 1950s. The trouble is that Primo has no interest in serving spaghetti and meat balls. His menu includes risotto and other items that have to be explained to unenlightened, pre-food faddism American eaters. Needless to say, the brothers are not raking it in.” Barbara Shulgasser, San Francisco Examiner

The Trip to Spain begins at The Grand Cinema this Friday.
Tampopo will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, September 1 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).
Big Night will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 in the CSL.

The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, September 13 in the CSL.

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