Monday, March 31, 2008

What not to watch.

Don't watch this: Watch this:
Yesterday I flopped down on the couch after Salsa to watch the movie 'Bella Martha', which has been issued to English speaking countries under the slightly offbeat title of 'Mostly Martha'. The movie starts with obsessed chef Martha describing to her long suffering psychologist the exact correct way to cook a quail. 'Waaaaait a minute' I thought to myself..'I've seen this before'. I kept watching and once the movie cut to the kitchen scene I knew that I had seen it before, the very night before, only it was called 'No Reservations', starring Catherine Zeta Jones. This is not a similar plot, or a movie based on the same book, it's the same movie, same scenes, same characters, only somehow so much better.
I did some research and discovered that Bella Martha won a bundle of awards and award nominations. Probably what happened is that hollywood wanted a bit of that so they went ahead and did a remake with big name actors, changing the original screenplay hardly at all, yet simultaneously managing to rip the guts out of it. The central plot of this movie is that the perfectionist, slightly uptight, haute-cuisine obsessed, main character becomes surrogate parent to her niece when her sister is killed in a car accident. That's a pretty meaty plot. But, every hollywood movie must have a romantic bust-up, right? There has to be a fight and the making up. So, this gets inserted into 'No Reservations' at the expense of what I thought was an interesting sub-plot - the little girls absent Italian father. That little piece of info sort of tied a lot of things together, like why she likes Italian food and why she bonds with the Italian love interest/rival of the main character... except that in the hollywood movie the love interest is not Italian, but an American chef that specialises in Italian food, and the father is brushed aside as being 'unknown'. No Reservations may be an ok movie, but, compared to the original, it seriously lacks heart and soul and, in my opinion, skimps on the 'food porn'. Bella Martha does not hold back on the lingering shots of fabulous food. In hollywood, people don't pay to look at food, they pay to look at celebrity actors.
How is it that I came to be watching two foodcentric movies in two days anyway? I've never noticed it before, but there may be a theme to my viewing patterns....

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