Food has this magic of always bringing a soothing feeling after a tiring day. Movies about food are especially hard to say no to, and at some point – addictive. They bring back our food-related memories, reminding us how healing it is to devour comfort food, how neglected we might have been towards food when we are busy working, and why we should pamper ourselves with food.
In China, many moviegoers would refer to Douban and its film recommendation ratings. Here are five movies we have picked from Douban that feature stories about food in Asia, and that you – whether a foodie or not – should be putting on your must-watch list.
A bite of China
Douban rating: 9.3
This is not a movie, but we figured that we should still put this up. The Chinese documentary television series had everyone talking in China when it first came out, and drove many Chinese expats living abroad crazy as they may not have easy access to authentic Chinese food for a taste of home. Produced by China Central Television (CCTV), the documentary is about the history of Chinese food, the consumption and cooking culture behind it.
The television series was first aired in 2012, and it quickly gained high ratings and widespread popularity. The second season aired in 2014.
Pay close attention to how they filmed the food: closeups, closeups and more closeups on the food being stir-fried in the Chinese frying wok. Don’t watch this at night. You know why.
Eat Drink Man Woman
Director: Ang Lee
Douban rating: 9.0
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93%
Eat Drink Man Woman is a 1994 Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee and it received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The drama is considered the third film of Ang Lee’s so-called “father knows best” trilogy, showing tensions between the two generations of a Confucian family in between tradition and modernity. The other two films in the “trilogy” are The Wedding Banquet and Pushing Hands.
The film depicts how a father prepares a feast at the dinner table every Sunday and turns it to a “family forum” where the father and his daughters argue or discuss traditional values and new ways of thinking. As the relationships evolve and deepen, the story progressively becomes a lot more layered, providing filmgoers a cinematic treat.
The God of Cookery
Director: Stephen Chow
Douban rating: 7.7
The 1996 film was produced, written, directed and starred by Stephen Chow, a well-known comedian actor from Hong Kong. The movie describes the rise and fall of a corrupt celebrity chef who runs a restaurant empire. In the story, the chef knows very little about cooking, but appears as a judge for culinary contests rigged to make him look good. He then loses it all, but after putting in some hard work to learn cooking, the chef wins the contest and gains back his reputation.
This is a typical Stephen Chow comedy film where foodies can not only enjoy watching an exhilarating culinary competition, but also have some good laughs.
This Is Not What I Expected
Director: Xu Hong Yu
Douban rating: 7.2
The movie is a romance comedy released in 2017. It was produced by Peter Chan, with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhou Dongyu as the lead actors. In the movie, Zhou plays a chef at a western restaurant in a hotel, where she meets the picky manager played by Kaneshiro. They bond over their love for food despite their extremely different personalities.
This is a movie for those foodies who favor light-hearted stories with romantic scenes.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Director: David Gelb
Douban rating: 8.8
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 99%
This is a critically acclaimed American documentary directed by David Gelb. Released in 2011, the film follows an 85-year-old sushi chef, Jiro Ono, who is also the owner of a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tokyo. The movie earned a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie sheds light on the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship, where Jiro Ono pretty much spends his entire lifetime striving for the customers’ best eating experience by serving the perfect piece of sushi.
(Top photo screenshot from YouTube)