7:30 PM, 15th August, 2014
Yet another boring TV cooking movie so beloved of the ‘chattering classes’? No. Chef is a great movie which my movie industry contacts tell me is sadly tanking at the box office due to people perhaps assuming it is the above – and the lack of a strong recognition factor of Favreau amongst the target audience.
It is essentially a relationship story about a father, Carl Casper (Favreau), obsessed with his work, rediscovering his estranged son and subsequently his ex-wife, by way of a cross country adventure in a food truck.
In the course of the journey he rebuilds his reputation, savaged at the hands of pompous, cynical and cruel food critic Ramsey Michel, played exquisitely in maximum ham-it-up mode by an oily Oliver Platt at his best. Dustin Hoffman is excellent in his few scenes as Riva, the inflexible conservative owner of the top restaurant from which Casper quits in frustration after a disastrous review of a Riva-imposed menu. John Leguizamo is Casper’s loyal sous chef who follows him.
Thoroughly enjoyable. If you are not in the movie’s target audience (i.e. under 30) come along and surprise yourself.
9:34 PM, 15th August, 2014
It’s 1962, and the charismatic Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his alluring younger wife Colette (Dunst) are in Greece on a lavish European vacation. While sightseeing at the Acropolis of Athens, they are spotted by Rydal (Isaac), a resourceful, Greek-speaking fellow American who thinks he might be able to hustle a bit of cash out of the wealthy couple.
Hitting it off, the MacFarlands invite Rydal to their hotel for dinner, and Rydal, spellbound by the couple’s wealth and glamour, gladly accepts.
All is not as it seems, however, and the couple’s affable exterior gradually erodes to reveal dark and deadly secrets. When Rydal arrives at the hotel, Chester presses him to help move the body of a seemingly unconscious man who he claims attacked him. In the heat of the moment Rydal agrees, but when events take a more sinister turn the three soon find their fates precariously intertwined in a tense and dangerous battle of wits.
A classic thriller in the vein of Hitchcock’s best, The Two Faces of January is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 novel and the impressive directorial debut of screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive, The Wings of the Dove). It’s undoubtedly a labour of love: Amini has been working to adapt Highsmith’s oft-overlooked and comparatively obscure novel into a film for nearly 15 years. Thankfully, his efforts have paid off with the end result an atmospheric, edgy film that manages to stay fascinatingly character-driven while keeping you guessing and on the edge of your seat throughout.