Movie Review: Chef (2014)

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Plot:A head chef quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

I would never have specifically chosen to watch this film by myself, and yet Zoë really liked it. I knew if she liked something like this (and it usually isn’t the type of film she’d go for), I would likely enjoy it too.

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Jon Favreau is perhaps best known for his role as Happy in the Iron Man franchise, but we all know him to be an excellent director too. He takes on the main character role of the Chef Carl Casper (love the alliteration right there), a brilliant chef who is forced into a mundane existence by working in an upmarket restaurant with a close-minded owner (played by Dustin Hoffman). After being blasted terribly by a Food Blogger, Carl loses his shit, goes on a Twitter rampage and eventually just quits. His ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara), convinces him to take up a food truck because then he can actually be true to himself and cook what he wants.

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Beware, Chef is food porn. You need to be prepared for the visual stimulation that will besiege you and I would not suggest watching this on an empty stomach. The amount of goodwill towards good food is staggering, and I was salivating even after I already had a delicious meal earlier.

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Primarily Chef is what happens when a man loses his passion. It is a lesson on social media etiquette, being a good parent, finding solutions and loving what you do how a man that lost his passion gets back on his feet, and his relationship with his wife and child are incorporated into that.  It is a feel good film . I wish all divorced couples would get along so well. Inez and Carl are the ideal divorced pair. They both care about their childs’ happiness and work towards keeping him grounded. I also enjoyed seeing Sofia Vergara in such a role, she is too often only cast as a hot Latino mammy and while she does good at it, she has so much more to give than her typecast work. I also enjoyed Bobby Cannavale and John Leguizamo in their roles, as well as Scarlett Johannson who was just a normal character. Robert Downey Jnr. Quickly makes an appearance too, which tells me a number of the Avengers cast wanted to support their friend and that is just great.

I actually have nothing bad to say about this. Chef is a joyful film with humor and self-discovery, and while it really is very optimistic it is lovely to watch. Definitely worth it!

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: Shall We Dance? (2004)

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Plot:

A romantic comedy where a bored, overworked Estate Lawyer, upon first sight of a beautiful instructor, signs up for ballroom dancing lessons.

Rating: 6.5/10

Shall We Dance was quite a surprise to me. I was ready to go on a rampage if it turned into a film that tried to justify an older man cheating on his perfectly nice wife. It seemed inevitable when John Clark joined a dancing studio because of the lovely Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) staring out into the night dramatically every time John’s bus drove past the studio where she worked. He is warned early on that Paulina has a broken heart and a dented ego and that she’s really talented. He tries to connect as he feels the need to be involved in some stranger’s personal business. Luckily she tells him where to get off and that she’s on to his shit. The movie steers in another direction then at least, with John (Richard Gere) learning to love the new skill he’s acquiring. His busy wife is alerted by their daughter that John is happier and acting very twinkle toes suddenly. She gets PI Devine (Richard Jenkins) to investigate and he delivers the real story – John is dancing, but not cheating. Through a whole lot of escalation and dance competitions, John eventually finds himself with a wife whose feelings have been hurt because he hid so much of what makes him happy in the past few months from her.

What I liked?

The cast is charming. Richard Gere is as classically handsome as always, Susan Sarandon is as always beautiful and talented, and Stanley Tucci provides a whole lot of funny moments and impressed me with his comedic ability. The same can be said for Lisa Ann Walter, who plays the really honest and abrasive Bobbie. I liked her attitude and while she could be harsh, I really enjoyed the character. I also really thought Bobby Cannavale and Omar Benson Miller had some great moments as John’s classmates Chic and Vern.

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How Shall We Dance concluded. As I mentioned, I was sure this film would be a justification of cheating episode and I don’t have time for that. It turned out differently than expected and I am grateful for that.

The dancing was a whole lot of fun. I really enjoy dancing movies a whole lot even if they have questionable plot lines.

The pace of the movie is well executed and didn’t drag out for ages.

Stanley Tucci’s role as Link was quite funny and had some gentle reminders in that straight men are also able to be dancers and entertainers, and that society generally gives them a really hard time. His whole costume of wigs and false teeth entertained me to no end and some of the funniest moments on screen come from him.

What I didn’t like:

Jennifer Lopez can dance, she can sing, she can be Jenny from the Block, but what she is unable to do is act. I was left as uninspired as usual by her. No real emotion or even a hint of conviction in her character, all she has to rely on is her dance moves and girly voice to complete the role as Paulina. I’m not even sure why she is on the DVD cover as there were a ton of characters that deserved to be on it rather.

I enjoyed Shall We Dance. It is a reminder that life doesn’t have to be over after a certain age and that you can still experience new things. It is also to a lesser degree a film about being yourself and owning what you believe in. It also contains Richard Gere, one of the most handsome older men still alive. For a romantic drama, Shall We Dance fails to annoy and is enjoyable to sit through, which is as much as you can generally expect from these type of films.

Have you seen this? Tell me in the comment section 🙂

Movie Review: Annie (2014)

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Plot: A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.

Rating: 6/10

The very low rating I gave might suggest that I disliked Annie. I really didn’t though. I certainly thought that it was really very, very optimistic and that literally no one had an ounce of rhythm except Jamie Foxx. Cameron Diaz and Rose Byrne were the epitome of white girls dancing and I wanted to hide when they were subjected to singing and dancing and I was subjected to watching them do it. I thought Quvenzhane Wallis (what a name) was pretty cute as Annie. It seems quite deranged to make films about singing orphans, but the film (and probably theater production) manages to be upbeat and sweet and inspirational and one of those situations where the villains aren’t even villains at the end of the day. I watched Annie with my mom and she really liked it, and for her to really like a movie is almost impossible. There really isn’t much else to say about this – for a musical full of people who aren’t really musically gifted it didn’t go that bad. I wouldn’t claim that the film restored my faith in humanity because there is no way humanity is that good, but I did like it and thought it was sweet.

Have you seen Annie? What did you think?