On Nov. 12-13, Alton Brown screened six food-centric films of his choosing at New York City's The Metrograph and introduced his picks in person. On the event page, Alton explains, "Long before I picked up a pan and got in front of the camera, I lived my life behind one, as a cinematographer and a commercial director. So while most folks got their food fix in restaurants, I fed my fascination in a cinema seat. Movies about food and cooking have always fascinated me and I've long dreamt of mounting a 'food on film' series." Though the Food-on-Film event has passed, lucky for all of us Alton fans, all of the movies are available to watch online. Read about Alton's collection below and check out the links to rent / watch the films.
- Babette's Feast ($4): "Although Gabriel Axel's 1987 classic is usually cited for its painterly food photography, what gets me is the sense of service and hospitality. Unbeknownst to the isolated Danish sisters who have taken her in, Babette is a famed Parisian chef. When circumstance arise that allow her to prepare a meal for her hosts and friends, Babette serves them with the kind of gracious humility that true chefs embody."
- Eat Drink Man Woman ($4) "Ang Lee's family fable about a master chef and his three daughters is the best movie ever made about how food can connect generations. The cooking scenes (rapturously shot by cinematographer Jon Lin) capture the magic and majesty of Taiwanese cuisine but it's the quiet, world weary performance by Sihung Lung as the elder chef that makes this film a must."
- Big Night ($4) "Stanley Tucci's labor of love is not about Italian cuisine; it's not about love or brotherhood, tradition or compromise, Louis Prima or the creation of Timpano Maccheroni. Big Night is about getting up in the morning after you've gotten your ass kicked and making breakfast. The final shot is my favorite cooking scene in all of cinema."
- Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (free) "Les Blank pretty much created the genre of food documentary with this 1980 love-letter to the stinking rose. Featuring a young Alice Waters, and a host of No-Cal foodies, 10 Mothers is both quaint and quixotic. The scenes filmed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival always remind me of a gustatory Woodstock."
- God of Cookery (free) "Before there was Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle there was God of Cookery. Although Chow was still developing his manic shooting style, with occasionally rough results, this tale of a pompous celebrity chef's fall and eventual redemption is imaginative and hilarious. A day didn't go by on the set of Iron Chef America that I didn't think about this film."
- Cook-Thief-Wife and Her Lover ($3) "Although I've read that Peter Greenaway intended this tale of haute cuisine, sex, violence, revenge and cannibalism as an allegory for Thatcherism, I just dig it for the painterly compositions, the rapturous kitchen scenes (I've never worked in one like that), the crazy as a loon performance by Michael Gambon (Harry Potter fans hold your sorting hats), and the smokin' hot Helen Mirren in Jean-Paul Gaultier."