Sign in using your account with
The Hundred-Foot Journey: Charming Romantic Drama for Foodies
Lasse Hallstrom's latest onscreen efforts – following his generous offering in 2000's Chocolat – is yet another delicious treat that celebrates the power of food and the importance of family traditions in the predictable but exceptionally charming, The Hundred Foot Journey.
The story is centred on the Kadam family from Mumbai, who, after having experienced a personal tragedy and the loss of their beloved family-run restaurant, decide to flee to Europe in search for a better life. However, after failing to make it in the cold British weather, the Kadams, led by Papa (Puri), decide to head further south.
The family of six, which includes Hassan (Dayal) – a young aspiring chef - soon stumble upon a small village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, located in the south of France. Immediately taken in by its small-town charm, Papa decides to explore the village and after laying his eyes on a piece run-down of property, he decides that his family will settle and try to reopen their family restaurant.
After many objections from the rest of the family – who believe that the French are not accustomed to Indian cuisine – the rebuilding soon begins; however, problems soon arise when they learn that their new restaurant is located exactly one hundred feet from a Michelin-starred restaurant run by uncompromising food-snob, Madame Mallory (Mirren). Naturally, she isn't too welcoming of competition.
Let's get one thing out of the way first; it is highly advisable not to go on The Hundred-Foot Journey on an empty stomach. If you do, know that it is at your own risk.
Adapted from the pages of Richard C. Morais' novel of the same name – and produced by the unlikely pairing of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey – the story is very, very simple. Regardless of its rather predictable and sometimes overly-sentimental premise, however, it manages to create an inviting world that is pretty hard to resist. Easy on the eyes, the refined and somewhat old-fashioned cinematography – which embellishes most of its shots with a sun-kissed glow – adds to the overall experience and manages to awaken and breathe life into everything it touches.
Mirren, who seems to have mastered the French accent pretty well, shows great versatility in her role of the icy restaurant owner whose hard-as-nails exterior slowly begins to melt away as the minutes go by, while Puri, as the sensitive and the exceptionally stubborn father determined to make it, is simply irresistible.
However, it's Dayal as the passionate chef who serves as the secret ingredient to the mix and although his romantic attachment to a sous chef named Marguerite doesn't really translate all that well, he still manages to carry and convey Hallstrom's obvious passion and love for food to an audience who will more than likely be summoned to stop by for a quick Chicken Tikka Masala on their way home.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Armed with a zappy attitude, vibrant colours and a heavily-marketed soundtrack, the latest animated effort from DreamWorks Animation attempts to profit from the once popular toy brand in Trolls: a fun and a breezy animated musical which is a little light on story on substance.
Set deep in the heart of a magical land unknown to man, the Trolls are one of the tiniest and happiest creatures in the world who enjoy spending their days singing, dancing and generally spreading joy throughout their tiny little community. Their polar opposites are the Bergens; large, miserable and seemingly nasty monsters incapable of feeling joy on their own, needing to eat Trolls in order to consume their happiness. See, eating Trolls has become a Bergen holiday and on one of those holidays, the Trolls somehow manage to escape and, for twenty years, have been living a blissful and a carefree existence.
Fast-forward to present day, Princess Poppy (Kendrick) is preparing to celebrate the anniversary of that great escape, something which doesn’t sit all too well with the grumpy troll named Branch (Timberlake) who believes that the party will bring them unnecessary attention. His predictions soon come true when a Bergen Chef (Baranski) emerges from the shadows and grabs a couple of trolls and heads to Bergen command centre in order to redeem her bruised reputation, leaving it up to Poppy and Branch to go after her and save their friends.
Much like the Lego Movie before it, Trolls may come across to many as nothing but a calculated brand-driven cash grab which is looking to capitalise its profits from the popularity of a toy line which hasn’t been relevant since mid 90’s. Sure, money is always major motivators in productions like these, but there’s a fair amount of effort that is deserving of recognition.
Visually speaking, Trolls is a stunner. Offering an immersive and an almost psychedelic viewing experience, its visual palette is filled with vibrant colours and shimmering glitters, while the design of the trolls themselves –rainbow-coloured hair that shoots straight up, wrinkly foreheads and googly eyes – are showcased wonderfully. The voiceover work by the A-list cast – including Gwen Stefani, Zoey Deschanel and Russell Brand – is also solid with Timberlake and Kendrick using their easy chemistry and natural charm to bring the story’s main characters to life.
Unfortunately, where things go wrong is the story itself which comes across as uncreative, predictable and most disappointing of all, forgettable. Adults will left out in the cold by its excessively sugary feel, because ultimately, there’s not much here to engage with beyond the catchy pop-tunes, glittery farts and the candy-coloured façade.