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October 2015

BURNT is Delicious!

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director John Wells and The Weinstein Company comes a film full of bite even if the chef is a little BURNT.

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a chef with a lot of problems. Recovering from screwing up his life as a chef in Europe because of drugs and alcohol, Jones does what he considers a penance. Once the last shell is shucked, he returns to London with a dream.

That dream? To obtain a third Michelin star! To be reviewed, inspectors come into a restaurant secretly, order food and a decision is made. Jones knows what he must do to make this happen but its going to mean facing those he hurt years before.

Beginning with Tony (Daniel Bruhl), Jones enters his restaurant and orders a meal. After he is finished, Jones promptly tells Tony what he thinks which opens the door to them talking. The idea is for Jones and Tony to work together and open the best restaurant and prepare for the Michelin inspectors.

Jones enlists Max (Ricardo Scamarcio) and Michel (Omar Sy) from the old days along with David (Sam Keeley), a young man who has the same drive as Jones. Finally, he gets his hands on Helene (Sienna Miller), a single Mom who wants to cook beautiful food. The only competition in town is one-time friend Reece (Matthew Rhys).

But there are old scores to be settled, craziness to get under control, and an understanding of what everyone is striving for.

burnt 2Cooper as Adam Jones takes this character every which way and loose. Trying to find his way back, the character of Jones is a hot mess and Cooper has an amazing way of making it look good to be said hot mess. Adding the fact that Jones is a crazy chef with a brilliant mind gives BURNT the right amount of what I enjoy – watching cooks in the kitchen. The mixture of crazy Gordon Ramsey tendencies (both in attitude and food), the character of Jones manages to bring together the best and brightest who want what he does, to be the best from start to finish. Besides, lets be honest, to those of us who just plain out love Cooper in anything he does is going to be happy.

Bruhl as Tony is equally as messed up and yes, Jones is to blame in a fashion. Resting on his laurels, or inheritance, Tony seemed fine with it until Jones walked through his doors. Yet, even then there is the realization that things could be amazing. Bruhl gives his character such tolerance but that tolerance is based on a secret – okay, Tony also knows Jones is the best. Bruhl seems to choose roles that continually surprise me and that always has me checking on what he is doing next.

Miller as Helene struggles as a single Mother to not only put food on her own table, but amazing food on the table of paying customers. Jones’ arrogance is on the outside and Helene’s is on the inside trying to get out.

Rhys as Reece has the hottest restaurant in town – that is until Jones arrives to test everything he knows and come to terms with it. Scamarcio as Max knows the history of the group and still believes in Jones, even when rage gets the better of him. Keeley as David keeps his head down and his ears open. Sy as Michel jumps on board with the new restaurant knowing that Jones had done him wrong in the past. As 2nd in command he seems happy being back with most of the old gang.

A shout out to Emma Thompson as Dr. Rosshilde, a therapist who doesn’t let Jones get away with anything and calls him out on every hidden emotion. Uma Thurman as Simone Forth, a food critic who knows she can make or break a chef. Also starring Lexie Benbow-Hard as Lily – a young girl who knows good food and doesn’t have a problem expressing her opinion. She would make an awesome food critic too!

Other cast include: Lily James as Sarah, Sarah Greene as Kaitlin, Alicia Vikander as Anne Marie, and Stephen Campell Moore as Jack.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give BURNT four tubs of popcorn out of five. Look, I’m a foodie at heart, I watch the Food Network and love the film RATATOULLE (yes, I get its animated and a rat is cooking – it’s still cool!), I am a Chopped marathoner and sit on the edge of my seat each season of Top Chef. So you know where I’m coming from now but that aside, I really enjoyed the film.

It’s a crazy story about people who are arrogant and neurotic but make art on a plate. There is a rush watching these characters go from zero to insane each evening for what some might consider a ‘silly star’. I get it I really do and congratulate any chef that can do it.

BURNT is a mixture of life, love, mistakes, regret, atonement, revenge, forgiveness and realizing that being excellent is not accomplished alone. I toast every bit of the film with a great wine and when asked what I thought of the film after viewing I could only say, “Delicious!”

In the end – never underestimate a man with nothing to lose!

For more go to: http://moviemaven.homestead.com

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SEX, DEATH & BOWLING – Bring a Tissue!

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this week from director/writer Ally Walker and Monterey Media is family, secrets and sports with SEX, DEATH & BOWLING.

Eli McAllister (Joshua Rush) is an 11-year-old boy whose life is turning upside down. His father Rick (Bailey Chase) is seriously ill, his mother Glenn (Selma Blair) is emotionally absent and Grandfather Dick (Daniel Kelly) is avoiding everything.

Coming home after a long absence, Sean (Adrian Grenier) comes home to spend time with his brother. The memories come flooding back of their growing up together yet there is a secret that is haunting Sean.

Eli is actually thrilled to see his Uncle Sean. The town has a tournament, The Fiesta Cup, and with his father ill, Eli needs someone else. Knowing that things are rocky between Sean and his grandfather, it also becomes an opportunity to bring the family together and do one last thing for his father.

Healing and forgiveness can start even while wearing bowling shoes!

Grenier as Sean is a young man who has made a success of his life. Getting away from small town living and the secrets, he has relocated to Europe. Coming back to visit his ill brother, the character of Sean is also trying to fix his relationship at home long distance. There is so much emotion here for Grenier yet he doesn’t rob anything from each story he must address. From his love life, to memories past, the relationship with his brother, father and even Eli – Grenier portrays his character so deeply.

Rush as Eli is amazing as a young man dealing with so much for his age. Wanting to make his father proud and trying to keep life normal for his mother. This young man is smart and totally endearing as Eli. It constantly amazed me that he had things more together than the adults who should have been his support system. Rush gives a performance that stands out as one I will remember for a long time.

Blair as Glenn is a woman falling apart and falling away from her son. Of course this is understandable but seeing the effect on son Eli is hard. Blair gives this character such believability and sadness, well done performance. Chase as Rick is a husband and father who tries to reconnect with is brother and father while watching his wife sadness. Kelly as father/grandfather Dick is a bit like Eli in that there are secrets and unresolved issues that have followed him for years.

Other cast include: Melora Walters as Evie, Drea de Matteo as Ana, Mary Lynn Rajskub as Kim, Drew Powell as Tim, Richard Riehle as Father Joe, Erica Gimpel as Shanti and Joseph Aviel as John.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give SEX, DEATH & BOWLING four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is such a lovely story about the history of a family that isn’t all roses. When Sean returns, it is as if no one can move forward until the family issues are spoken about openly. I’m going to take a wild guess in saying that there are many who can relate to the duality of loving a family member and wanting to scream at them simultaneously.

The film is shot extremely well not relying on over played with a loud sentimental soundtrack but instead letting the viewer take each event moment by moment. The characters are so well done that the twists and turns will get an honest reaction from viewers. That’s so important when telling a story filled with such intensity.

There is also humor here that I love, it’s a little twisted in places but it reminds me of my own family which, again, makes the entire film relatable.

Director/writer and actress Ally Walker isn’t new to the emotion game. To her credit Walker has given television performances on such shows as Longmire, Colony, The Protector and the most amazing show Sons of Anarchy. As Agent June Stahl she gave me more than one occasion to scream at the screen.

The script is well done and Walker obviously knew exactly what she wanted to put on screen and she does it beautifully. I dare anyone who sees this film not to laugh, get a little choked up and even sniffle a time or two.

In the end – sometimes coming home means going back!

For more go to http://moviemaven.homestead.com

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