Monday, June 12, 2017

Dough - and The 100-Foot Journey

We caught up with a 2015 movie last night called (simply) Dough. As in cash, of course, and in actual dough for baking.

It's a story about an elderly Jewish baker in London whose business is losing customers and money. The shops on either side are either owned or being bought out by an unscrupulous former 'barrow boy.' Through various circumstances a young African Muslim boy becomes the Jew's apprentice baker and things begin to turn around. Of course there are difficulties and troubles along the way. 

It's a comedy, for the most part, and the kind of necessary violence in it is kept to a minimum. 

A number of critics have pooh-poohed the film as being predictable (it is, as much as any film might be), and because it doesn't tackle the real issues of what might be involved in a Jew and a Muslim working together. For these critics, things are too simple. 

Of course they are. It's a comedy, not a film by Ken Loach or one of his ilk. Of course there are improbabilities, and even a considerable loophole in the plot - if you stop and think about it later. But there's also considerable joy in places, warmth, and some well-performed characters, especially Jonathan Pryce as the baker. Jerome Holder is the African immigrant, and I found his performance full of contrasts; he was well able to stand up to the more seasoned actors around him, such as Pauline Collins, as the recently-widowed landlady of the baker's shop, and Phil Harris and Ian Hart (neither of them chosen for their good looks) as the two villains. 

It's not a film that'll change the world. It's a feel-good movie, but seemingly many critics these days think that feel-good movies shouldn't be allowed to stand alongside the blockbusters, the Marvel comic adaptations, the deeply serious art movies. And the foreign movies, including the foreign comedies - wait, most of those are also feel-good movies, but they have subtitles...!

You can see Dough on Netflix.

21.6.17 Also on Netflix is The Hundred-Foot Journey. 
It's the story of an Indian family of cooks making good opposite a Michelin star restaurant in a relatively small town in France. They manage to do this in spite of Helen Mirren being the owner of the French restaurant, a place where 'classic' food is served. There should be no contest, except that one of the sons of the Indian restaurant happens to be a cooking genius.

I'd avoided seeing this previously because it got poor critical reviews. But it turns out to be another feel-good movie, beautifully filmed (the food looks wonderful, and the mouth waters) and well-acted. The script might be a bit undercooked, but the overall effect is enjoyment and delight.

There are some oddities: the French characters often speak French at the beginning of a scene but then wind up shifting into accented English. The Indians speak accented English throughout (though of course with a different accent). Both the restaurants are well-out of town: you wouldn't walk to either of them, yet they both have a good clientele.

Anyway, relax and enjoy it. Some films exist for no other reason.

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