Paris Can Wait
I recently saw Paris Can Wait, a whimsical saga of a road trip from Cannes to Paris, during which Diane Lane parries the advances of Jacques, a flirtatious French rascal, but loveable foodie.
Lane’s inattentive husband, played by Alex Baldwin, is off seeing to business elsewhere in Europe, having entrusted his wife’s transportation to his more amorous business associate. The couple tootles along the French countryside in an old Peugeot convertible, stopping frequently for 3-star restaurant meals, dining on such things as warm croissants and escargot. What should have been a 7 hour drive turns into a frolicsome, several day adventure for the pair. (Showing at Plaza Frontenac and Hi-Point Backlot)
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent
And then I saw Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, the documentary of the legendary American chef. I’ve always had a tendency to doze off during documentaries and this one was no exception. While I have admired Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, I’d never heard of her 1970s cohort, Jeremiah Tower. At one point in the film, Martha Stewart offers absolution, saying most people had never heard of the mystifying California chef, so I felt better about my deficiency.
There is much to sadden the viewer in Tower’s recounting of his childhood. His well-to-do, widely-travelled parents are inattentive at best and neglectful and abusive at worst. Young Jeremiah finds solace in food and its preparation. Upon graduation from Harvard with a degree in architecture, he casts his lot with Berkeley chef Alice Waters at the trendy Chez Panisse. When they have a falling out, he starts his own restaurant, Stars, in San Francisco. It turns out to be highly successful. But the business expands too quickly and eventually is done in by the destruction of the flagship location in 1989, when an earthquake destroys the neighborhood.
For more than a decade Tower goes into a self-imposed exile, spending most of his time in Mexico before returning to try his hand at revamping the troubled Tavern on the Green in New York. He fails. The documentary tells the story of his several rises and falls.
The film recognizes the tormented chef for creating (or, at least, popularizing) the 70s kitchen revolution, that came to be known as California Cuisine. Being a food blogger rather than a psychologist, I would have preferred more analysis of his unique food creations and less of his troubled soul. (Showing at Plaza Frontenac)