Chef: 2.5 stars
Chef is the latest film by Iron Man director John Favreau in which he swaps super hero outfits for a kitchen apron in an ostensible return to his indie film roots. Favreau plays Carl Casper, a passionate restaurant chef whose culinary creativity is being blunted by restaurant owner Riva, who prefers to serve customers unoriginal crowd-pleasing favourites rather than give Carl the freedom to realise his creative promise in the kitchen. Things finally come to a head following a bitter Twitter feud with a respected food critic and Carl decides to quit his job, travel to Miami and restore a clapped-out food truck in a bid to rediscover his passion for food. Aided by his technology-savvy son, fellow cook, Martin, and Twitter, Carl embarks on a road trip across the USA selling Cuban-style sandwiches to the smartphone-wielding masses.
Favreau has enlisted the help of Colombia´s very own Sofia Vergara who plays Carl´s ex-wife and yummy mummy Inez, though how an overweight restaurant chef bagged such an impossibly beautiful woman is anyone´s guess.
Another Colombian connection is provided by John Leguizamo who adds some welcome Latin spice to proceedings as Carl´s trusted sous-chef, Martin.
While the film boasts a cracking soundtrack featuring a song from Colombia-based artist Quantic, this latest offering from Favreau feels suspiciously like one big advertisement for Twitter and Vine. Equally, Favreau´s desire to “go back to basics” and make a low-budget indie film seems at odds with the impressive cast of Hollywood A-listers peppered throughout the movie. Scarlett Johanson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. all make brief, uninspiring cameo appearances. Witty in parts and not without a certain charm, this film ultimately left me underwhelmed, undernourished and hankering for something much meatier on this month´s movie menu.
We Are The Best – 5 stars
Lukas Moodysson has such a diverse selection of work that it`s hard to know what to expect from him each time he picks up a camera. His stand-out movies to date include Together- a drama based around a 70s commune, and Lilya-4-eva, an unflinching look at sex trafficking and its victims.
However, this latest offering surpasses even those classics. With a fondness for nostalgia, Moodysson focuses on the daily trials and tribulations of three edgy 12-year-old girls, Obo, Klara, and Hedvig. Growing up in the early 1980s, they share an obsession with the Swedish punk scene. They are in love with the idea of being outsiders and together form a band to realise their dream.
With teenage rebellion, first loves and a freshness and authenticity that radiates from the young girls, you will leave wanting more, eager to see how their personalities and friendships may change as they grow up.
While most Nordic dramas from Bergman onwards have seemed to concentrate on the melancholic and repressed aspects of these cold environs, this film prefers to revel in the feel-good factor. The film’s wide-eyed optimism is contagious and this story of friendship and pre-teen innocence could melt even the iciest Swedish winter.
The film is showing in Cine Tonala on selected dates this month. This new cinema on the edge of Parque Nacional is a treasure with comfy seats and a spacious bar area.
Frank – 3 1/2 stars
Frank Sidebottom was the comedy invention of Chris Sivey – to the uninitiated, an eccentric northern entertainer who wore an enormous paper mache head. His brushes with fame briefly saw him front a TV show in the 1980s. His anachronistic silliness had a cult following in some parts of northern England. Chris Sivey died last year, sadly penniless, and had it not been for a Facebook campaign would have had a pauper’s funeral.
This is not really a film about that man, but more the spirit of eccentricity and a search for the authentic that he possessed. Michael Fassbender plays Frank and Domhnall Gleeson is Jon Ronson, a man bored of suburbia, a wide-eyed wannabe musician eager to escape into the mad world of Frank, and find the source of what makes the man such a creative force.
The film has an interesting mix of humour and darkness. Maggie Gyllenhal does a great turn as an austere chain-smoking theremin player, and muse to Frank. The plot somewhat revolves around her efforts to expose Jon`s shortcomings and inauthenticity – is he just a hanger-on with no real talent? All in all the film is interesting and watchable. However, my biggest gripe is the incredibly irritating on-screen tweets all the way through. For a film about artistic authenticity, selling out to product placement in such an obtuse way is sad, and not true to the spirit of Chris Sivey.