Review: Jon Favreau’s ‘Chef’ serves up a tasty foodie film

"Chef" starring Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony
“Chef” starring Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony
Official Studio Still
Chef
Rating:4 Star

Jon Favreau’sChef” sneak peeked at SXSW to a packed house at the Paramount Theatre with him in attendance (see pics) earlier in March. The big story here isn’t that Favreau, director of “Iron Man” and “Cowboys and Aliens” has forgone the huge budget films to get back to his roots with this film, but that he has the talent as well as the option to do so. Favreau’s success doesn’t hinge on every single project he undertakes. “Chef” is one of those films that’s not going to rake in a zillion bucks and spawn sequels. This film is an affair of the heart, and literally a visual feast.
“Chef” is about a middle aged man, Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), who was once labeled an up-and-coming chef by a famous food critic (Oliver Platt). Some years later that same critic returns to see where the chef has taken himself and discovers that Casper has settled into a comfortable routine of serving up safe and traditional entrees thanks in part to his conservative boss and restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman). After a horrendous review of his food, Casper goes ballistic and tries to awkwardly use social media to vent his frustration, which leads to a second chance attempt to impress the critic. Under threat of being fired Casper walks off the job after exactly the same food is served to the critic with no regard to his wishes by his boss.
In a rut, Casper visits his very successful and beautiful ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) who encourages him to spend more time with their son (Emjay Anthony), and comes up with an idea for him to come along on a trip to Miami as sitter to their son, and also where her first ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr.) just happens to reside.
With some encouragement from his ex-wife and son, Casper begins to reawaken his cooking desire after visiting some of the places that inspired him originally. An idea begins to take form and the desire and passion he once had for cooking takes hold of him. Meeting with his wife’s first husband again., Casper is presented with a greasy, beat-up food truck that has seen better days which doesn’t faze him in the slightest. After a tremendous cleaning session, and some father son bonding, and then the arrival of his good friend (John Leguizamo) , the three of them head out on a road trip that will end in Los Angeles. With stops along the way, they perfect their recipes while utilizing social media to build an audience of food lovers that flock to their truck in different cities like New Orleans, and Austin.
“Chef” is really a simple and basic story. The first act runs long but once we make it to the second act, the story progresses nicely. Main character, Casper is suffering from a mid-life crisis but instead of buying the red sports car, Casper buys a food truck and along the way reinvents himself in ways that seem entirely plausible.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau who’s had recent big budget success, “Chef” just reaffirms that there’s still more to the man than making films the gross a 100 million plus dollars. From his final product of “Chef” you can see that he really does treasure and care about the art of film. You can’t help but wonder if this is in some way a jab at critics, or a lesson in the value of criticism. Nonetheless, his film reaffirms that Favreau is a talented writer, director, and actor; The trifecta rarely seen in Hollywood.
“Chef” is a visual feast of delicious food with realistic kitchen and cooking skills being displayed throughout, and a touching story of a man reawakening his passion and desire not only as a cook, but as a father. Light comedic touches, a signature of Favreau, along with memorable performances by the entire cast including Hoffman, Vergara, Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, and new comer Enjay Anthony. Just don’t go hungry.
B

C2E2 day one breakdown: In search of slutty Leia

C2E2 day one has officially come to a close and that means parties of all kinds are just now getting started. Cosplayers are removing their costumes, artists and vendors have left the floor and all are celebrating the end of day one at the Chicago pop cultureconvention now in its fifth year. Beers are cracking, wine coolers twisting, and all manner of booze is being consumed as flocks of people hit the streets to eat some of Chicago’s deep dish pizza, and Italian meat sandwiches. But let’s rewind the day and break it down for you.

C2E2 this weekend: Live stream and complete links to all events

C2E2 kicks off this weekend in Chicago

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Deadpool, Walking Dead, and more comic art up for charity auction going on now

Grump Style

With permission from artist Beth Sotelo

Interview: Marlon Wayan’s gets crazy sexy with doll in ‘A Haunted House 2’

‘Predestination’ starring Ethan Hawke premieres at SXSW: Review and pics

‘Predestination’ starring Ethan Hawke premieres at SXSW: Review and pics

Predestination
Rating: 5 Star

Predestination,” starring Ethan Hawke and from directing team Michael and Peter Spierig (twin brothers) who brought us the vampire-genre flick, “Daybreakers,” debuted their mind-bending, time travel film at SXSW. Based upon an eleven page story from Science Fiction novelist Robert A. Heinlein called “All You Zombies,” “Predestination” is one of the most intriguing time travel films in recent years.
Spoiler free as much as possible, the story is about a temporal agent who travels back and forth through time to right the wrongs of the past. His final mission, as jumping back and forth can effect him physically, is to stop the Fizzle Bomber who is attempting (or has already) depending on where you are in the story, to blow up a huge area of New York killing thousands. Zeroing in on the Fizzle Bomber, he works under-cover in a seventies bar serving up drinks when he befriends a nondescript man who promises to tell him a tale that will win him a free bottle of booze. Intrigued, Hawke’s character takes the bait and listens intently as our mystery man begins his tale by sharing that he writes confessional stories under the pen name of “Unmarried Mother.”

"Predestination" is a thrilling time travel movie starring Ethan Hawke.
“Predestination” is a thrilling time travel movie starring Ethan Hawke.
Official Film still
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What follows is a well thought out narrative as told from the man’s point of view in which he starts out by telling us about his early life. The directors take their time introducing us to the man as a child and how his life progressed. This is key to developing what will happen later in the film and also to instill empathy for his character. I was glad that they did not rush the process because developing empathy for your characters takes time, and you can’t rush the process.

You will instantly see why this story is engaging without me telling you every detail and ruining it for you and hopefully you won’t read another article on this film that gives away too much. However, as you could probably guess, Hawke’s character and this man’s paths (both characters never use their names) do cross at different times throughout the film. The mystery of why is the basis for the story and why I am reluctant to over-share details.

The main component of any worth while science fiction story is its ability to to challenge you to ask why, and then to wonder at the possible answers. This film does just that, and so much more. You can’t pretend that every twist and turn can be explained perfectly with the unwritten rules of time travel stories, but so what? Time paradoxes, and who did what to whom, and when did they do it are all part of the intrigue to this amazingly realized story. Imagine being able to explain what came first, the chicken or the egg. It’s impossible and that’s part of the fascination of this film.
The Spierig’s courage and skill to take something as massive as a time travel story that spans roughly 50 years and to interpret that onto the big screen while being mindful of each time periods unique setting while keeping track of who did what and who said what, is a feat by any creative team. It’s a risky move for the film creators, because honestly not everyone out there is capable of following along, especially when the story starts moving faster and key parts start falling into place. There’s going to be movie-goers that just won’t get it, and that’s sad because it could make it harder for this film to find its audience. Rather than dumb down the story, and make it more palatable the creators stick to their guns and deliver true science fiction story-telling that pushes the limits but doesn’t become nonsensical or completely far-fetched for the genre.

As an avid science fiction reader and fan of time travel stories I have come to learn that not everyone can appreciate the intricacies of just what it takes to present a story of this kind. Case in point would be the even more grandiose film “Cloud Atlas,” which in my opinion is a master piece (Wachowski siblings), and is in some ways similar to “Predestination.”

In regards to “Cloud Atlas,” I’ve heard people bomb the film as they walked out of the theater complaining that they just didn’t get it. I’ve also heard avid film goers’ boo-hoo “Cloud Atlas” and then later re-watch it at home on Blu ray and go totally nuts over how good the film is. To put it bluntly, science fiction requires more from its reader/watcher. The stories require you to suspend what you know and to wonder at what could be. Those lacking imagination will be challenged by “Predestination” and unfortunately I see them walking out of the theater somewhat frustrated, and unfortunately they will blame the story-telling. The truth is, not everyone is going to get it. Just as not everyone could appreciate the scope of “Cloud Atlas” or even the majesty of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain.” For those with imagination and an appreciation of fantastical story-telling you are going to really embrace “Predestination.”

There are two main narrative story-lines to this film, one of which is through Hawkes’ character’s point of view, and the other through the man in the bar (female actress Sarah Snook) who gets the most screen time and is the main focus. Hawke has tremendous acting ability and has been in more than 50 films. As a veteran of the industry, he has developed a lot of skill. I appreciate the fact that he is willing to take on a film and role such as this considering there is no distribution in place as of today and the story is less traditional. However, when the film does finally make it to a theater everyone is going to be talking about Sarah Snook. Before I praise just how brilliant she is in this film, I think there’s a lot to be said that she got an equally good partner in Hawke, and because of that, her performance is going to get her noticed. I would not be surprised to see her appearing in top contender, award winning films in her near future. Remember you read it here first.

Just who is this actress Sarah Snook? There’s not a lot out there to tell you. Not many photos, and a sparse resume on IMBD. Despite that, when this film is over not only will you want to watch it again, you will want to know who this amazing actress? She steals the show plain and simple. I’ve purposely neglected to include some of the reasons of exactly why, because I want the story to unfold organically for you if you chose to seek out this movie. I’m hoping that I have included enough information that you are interested but doesn’t give away what makes it so good. Just announced a few days ago, Snook has landed a role in a new TV show this Fall called “Clementine,” about a psychic, so it’s happening for her.

A powerful indicator of just how well did you tell your science fiction story is when audiences walk out of the theater and ask themselves, “what if.” Michael and Peter Spierig achieve that, and leave me wanting to watch it again. Dynamic characters that are given screen time to develop, help to create a story that is part character driven and part action presenting an equally satisfying film. I’ll be first in line and preaching to the choir when this film gets a release date.

Verdict:

“Predestination” is smart science-fiction that delivers on story with a break-out performance from Sarah Snook. Enthralling from start to finish. Figuring it out or thinking you did, is the reason you will want to see it again. Destined to be a cult film. A

As part of the ‘Headliner’s’ programming for the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, “Predestination” screened to a packed house at the Paramount Theatre (largest venue) March 8th and was followed by a Q & A with Ethan Hawke, Michael Spierig, and Peter Spierig. See pics. If you want to see this film in a theater sooner rather than later, be sure to tweet and or share this article as this film still has no US distribution or release date as of 3/17/2014.

Lady Gaga purposely gets puked on during SXSW performance -review and pics

March 14, 20141:22 PM MS 

Media were not allowed into the event but we managed to snap a few pics with a Galaxy Samsung 4 phone.
Kevin Hannon / KaBoom Entertainment / Houston
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