After seeing the movie Ramen Teh during the 2019 Victoria Film Festival, I left the theatre with a craving for bak kut teh (Meat Bone Tea). This film suggests the broth in this dish and ramen are similar, though, with the former, more herbs are used. It soothes the soul, and as this film suggests perhaps also help mend fences.
With this movie, it not only offers a lesson in the origins of this noodle dish but also explores the foodie scene in Singapore. The story looks at how Masato (Takumi Saito) seeks to reconnect with a part of the family he’s almost forgotten. When his Japanese father Kazuo (Tsuyoshi Ihara) passes away, he cannot quite continue to run the family ramen shop soon. There are bitter memories, mostly in how distant otōsan has become over the years. No reason is given right away, but it’s quickly revealed he’s never recovered from the loss of his beautiful wife, Mei Lian (Beatrice Chien). Since that departure, he’s become emotionally distant and a complete workaholic.
Playing at the
Victoria Film Festival
Victoria, British Columbia
Feb 1 to 10th
Tue | Feb 5 | 9:00 PM | SilverCity #3
Thur | Feb 7 | 6:15 PM | SilverCity #3
Back in 2011, I saw Chef of the South Polar (review link) at the Victoria Film Festival (VFF), and I learned a good noodle consists of a lot more than the love put into kneading the dough and creating the strands. Kansui is one part sodium bicarbonate and many other parts other trace minerals. To put them together in perfect harmony is part of many an Asian culture.
This year marks this event’s 25th anniversary (Taking place from Feb 1 to 10) and Ramen Shop (Ramen Teh) will continue to teach me something new in terms of how to celebrate life and food. Life lessons are often part of the theme in these movies, and I’m looking forward to what this year’s crop of films will offer.
Moving from one genre to another, The Great Buddha+ is a different spiritual product when compared to last week’s All You Can Eat movie. The Victoria Film Festival has unique picks every year. I wanted to challenge myself; this pairing is probably a result of Donovan Aikman, head programmer, than anyone else offering their two-cents worth when deciding in what to show. The only technical fault is whether the print allows tweaking how the subtitles look; white text with thin black outlines against a white image is hard to read unless you have eagle-eyes.
Otherwise, the film is a nicely done Hitchcock style who-will-do-it mystery. It’s presented in black and white for part of the film, and colour for the movie within the movie.
The 2018 Victoria Film Festival is in full swing and every year, there’s at least one foodie themed piece of cinema for me to look at. This year’s offering is a very curiously named, All You Can Eat, Buddha. Writer / Director Ian Lagarde makes his feature-length debut with this work. According to actor Silvio Arriola who plays Valentino, the manager of the Cuban resort El Palacio — this story was conceived when this filmmaker was vacationing in Mexico, observing life around the resort he was at and having a particular Vedic text on hand to read.
The significance of what food represents to Mike (played to great stoic effect by Ludovic Berthillot) is not what this film is about. This protagonist is often juxtaposed to the backdrop of the sea, giving him a godlike presence, and suggesting he is on a spiritual retreat. The few picturesque moments of exquisite buffets are used to a lesser effect. To understand what both mean requires a second and third helping — a viewing, that is.
Feast Food+Film is a three-day movie festival in Victoria, BC taking place in mid-June I generally do not miss. Some years are better than others in terms of how many movies I can see (tickets are $25 each). Sadly, James is losing interest in going to anything culinary and is very frugal these days. Also, at least for me, when a few of the movies / documentaries are quickly getting offered on VOD or Streaming services to view, my decision over what to see on a big screen is getting difficult. I want to save money too, but I’ll be missing getting to enjoy the tapa-sized tasters are offered at these events.
I did not have to view Cook Up the Storm, but a little voice in my head said go see it.
The organizers at the Victoria Film Festival never fail to tickle my taste-buds. I really enjoyed Bugs on the Menu from last year, and while nothing as exotic was offered this year, I had a well-made documentary in Commanding the Table to give me a quick history lesson on creole food. I love this style of cuisine and will go out of my way for it. To learn more about one of the early pioneers behind raising the bar on this style of cooking was engaging.
Plays Feb 10, 6:15pm
at Silvercity Tillicum
Feb 11, 6:30pm
at The Vic Theatre
Feeding the planet and the less fortunate anywhere is potentially difficult. To explore this situation is the documentary Theatre of Life, which is playing during this year’s Victoria Film Festival. This movie shows the task in a small-scale is doable, but it takes a concentrated effort to make it work and a continued commitment to make a difference. Chef Massimo Bottura deserves praise for taking the surplus and expired food meant for the 2015 Milan Expo’s many concession and diner operations and prepare simple original meals at the Refettorio Ambrosiano. This food kitchen still operates, and it does more than to feed the lower-class; it gives them a sense of community.