scarlett johansson

FILM REVIEW: ‘CHEF’

‘Chef’

Written by: Jon Favreau

Directed by: Jon Favreau download

Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jnr

Story: After a breakdown in his restaurant job and a difficult divorce, Chef Carl Casper decides to start a food truck to try and revitalize his love of cooking. 

Isn’t Jon Favreau just everyone’s favourite guy?! If he wasn’t before, ‘Chef’ will make you think twice. Favreau commands pretty impressive attention at the credit roll: he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in this feat which will leave you hungry for more!

It has been quite a while since we have seen something quite so uplifting without being ‘preachy’. The script is full bodied and delightful. Favreau is clever to stay away from cliches. Of course, many people have called this story boring and overly simple, but it strikes a really fine balance between internal and external struggle. Our protagonist is reliable and relatable, arguably one of the most realistic main characters we have had in a long time. The relationships he has with his son, friend, ex wife, and ‘kinda-sorta-girlfriend’ are unavoidable and dealt with in a true to life, no apologies sort of way. And of course, his biggest relationship, the one he has with food, is our quiet conflict. There is no big struggle in this film, and it actually plays out more in the structure of documentary that anything else. What we witness is a number of small struggles and small triumphs much like life for most of us out here in the real world.

Favreau gives us an incredibly likeable main character. He brings a lot of heart to the film and it is clear to see that this really was a passion project for him. Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jnr are in the film (nothing notable), and Scarlett Johansson appears and pouts for a while (also nothing noteable). Stand out performances after Favreau come from John Laguizamoand Emjay Anthony. Russell Peters provides a funny cameo, too. The real fault here is that the supporting cast are underdeveloped characters. There is no depth to Vergara’s role (does she have a job? Why was she ever married to this frumpy loser chef?) and Johansson was really quite pointless. With the film running for just under two hours, much of their screen time could of been cut to avoid confusion.

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The cinematography is stellar, and this is not a film that should be watched on an empty stomach! Countless meals are prepared to perfection and presented so delightfully that you might just find yourself salivating.

‘Chef’ is a warm fuzzy. It is perfect for a rainy afternoon with a hot cooked meal when you’re in the mood to smile (on the inside!). Does it have problems? Yes. Mainly in script and character development, but this doesn’t ruin the movie. It is still a whole hearted treat.

Rating: 8/10

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FILM REVIEW: “HER” (2013)

“Her”

Written and Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson.
Story: Left emotionally vulnerable when his wife leaves him, writer Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) develops an emotional attachment to his operating system, Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

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Famous for films such as Adaptation and Where The Wild Things Are, “Her” is the first completely original offering from Spike Jonze where he has both written and directed. As such, we have to enter the theater with the distinct impression that this film is going to be one thing: different.

The concept of the film is beautifully original, and hopes to serve as a warning to us all about our reliance on technology. With a very basic plot, Jonze is able to take us through a head spin of action and consequence as Theodore falls more and more in love with his computer operating system. Phoenix is predictably enjoyable, and Johansson does well to demonstrate that acting is not purely physical, but can be done extremely well with just a voice, however, there is a lot missing from this film.

For starters, Jonze manages to make his script so simple (perhaps hoping for quirky and easy to watch) it leaves gaping holes in the realism of the whole film. While he tries to portray the story as something that could be easily achievable in the not too distant future, it is far too easy for a viewer to become too distracted trying to figure out the technology and lose track of the plot. Indeed, watching the film I found myself becoming increasingly bored of the story line because it just didn’t make sense. With often choppy and inexplicable dialogue, the film attempts to be profound but falls short due to it’s lack of energy. From around half an hour in, you may start to think that this is simply Spike Jonze show-ponying his pretentiousness and existentialism.

The film should scoop some sort of recognition for Best Original Song: The Moon Song, by Karen O being one of the more enjoyable parts of the film. Noteable too, is the cinematography. Hoyte Van Hoytema of ‘Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy’ fame does an exceptional job of achieving what the script couldn’t: true beauty. I would perhaps go so far as to say that this film is worth seeing for the visual beauty of it. The shots are intriguing, quirky, and sometimes even breathtaking.

Between the cinematography and the performances by Phoenix and Johansson, the film is enjoyable, but anyone with a keen mind for a story will be left underwhelmed.

Rating: 3/5

 

 

*Photo Credit: pghcitypaper.com