Category Archives: films

Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food hits our screens

Jamie Oliver’s latest social project television program, Jamie’s Ministry of Food, hits Australian screens tomorrow (Weds 8 Sep) on Ten. I guess Australian commentators will be horrified at scenes of domestic deprivation of sorts, but I expect the stark contrast between the UK and Australia will make it seem a little unreal. I was horrified at the lack of food knowledge and the horrendous diets of so many people when I lived in the UK, not just poor working class. And that was despite functioning produce markets and often well-stocked supermarkets. Unfortunately, the hottest items in the supermarkets were preprepared, microwaveable meals. Sometimes they were quite tasty, but their flabbergasting popularity did nothing for encouraging cooking skills. Lower down the food chain, crap sausages and unspeakable budget-house-brand pork pies did nothing for nourishment.

Most of Australia is a long way from this, despite our regular breast-beating about the state of the nation’s eating habits. Jamie’s Ministry of Food should serve as a warning of a state of affairs which could happen here, but most likely wouldn’t.

There has been a lot of discussion in the UK about Jamie Oliver’s new series. Of course, some of this is gratuitous Jamie-bashing (and he can come across as an ignorant twirp at times), but the various commentators’ positions are quite fascinating… criticising Jamie Oliver for being everything from clueless to egotistical to self-promoting to arrogant to middle-class-arrogant to worthy to… phew!

Felicity Lawrence in the Guardian (01 Oct) — found via Limes&Lycopene
Word of Mouth in the Guardian (01 Oct) — and check out the comments!!
Rob Lyons at Spiked! (01 Oct) — a very different perspective

As misluck would have it, I’ll be working when the first episode screens here… but I guess footage will turn up elsewhere eventually.

Ratatouille – lovable rodents and fantastic animation

Rémy overlooking Paris

Just back from seeing the newish Pixar/Disney animated film Ratatouille. Quite a fun ride. The animation is fabulous – Pixar just do it better and better. The attention to detail in recreating Parisian street- and cityscapes is stunning.

You are meant to find the rats pleasant, even adorable perhaps, and the dissonance of rats doing positive things in a kitchen is played with well. There are visual moments when the rats are hilariously electrifying, not to mention redefining the grating of cheese. The humans, on the other hand, are a distinctly less agreeable bunch.

Unlike many recent animated films, the story here isn’t quite as awash in Big Moral as you might fear and the constant theme of ‘do what you want to do’ works well most of the time.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for me was that, although the rats talk to each other and can understand the humans, the humans can’t understand the rats. A nice anti-Dr-Dolittle touch. This permits a range of comic elements to be introduced to good effect.

Greatly worth seeing, but by no means perfect. I found the Hollywood touches a little tiring towards the end (but it’s so standard in animated movies and the kids lap it up), and came away not feeling like it had really been in Paris (despite the compliments above about appearances). It needed a dose of real Frenchness to get it over the line. 🙂 Nonetheless, as a food fanatic, a scene close to the end involving the über-scary food critic Anton Ego captured the essence of why we obsess, write and think about food, and of course cook and eat it! I won’t spoil things, but I hope those who’ve seen it recognise what I’m referring to.

Did anyone else find the rats’ noses a little spooky?
How many of you wanted to cook ratatouille after seeing the movie?

– DM