Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Nurse: These are your Do’s, and these are your Do Not’s. Do broil all your meats. Do drink eight glasses of water a day. Do eat all the fresh green vegetables you want. Do drink two glasses of nonfat milk a day. Do not drink any alcoholic beverages. Do not drink soda pop. Do not drink –ades or punches. Do not eat butter, margarine, oils, lard, or fat of any kind. Do not eat fried foods. Do not eat bread. Do not eat bananas, grapes, watermelon, or any fruits other than grapefruit or cantaloupe. Do not eat canned fruits. Do not eat dried fruits. Do not eat noodles. Do not eat spaghetti or macaroni of any kind. Do not eat pizza. Do not eat popcorn, potato chips, or pretzels. Do not eat puddings or custards. Do not eat ice cream, frozen custard, or frozen yogurt. Do not eat cookies, pies, cakes, pancakes, waffles, or any baked goods. Do not eat chocolate, caramel, fudge, nougat, nuts. Do not eat syrup….

Considered to be ahead of its time in terms of understanding the emotional lives of overweight persons, Fatso is a somewhat melancholy film showing how difficult it is to change one’s eating lifestyle. After his cousin Sal dies from obesity, Dominick (DeLuise) joins Chubby Checkers to lose weight, entrusting the keys to the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator to his baby brother, Frankie (Carey). However, becoming ravenous in the middle of the night, Dominick threatens Frankie with a butcher knife in order to get the keys back; Frankie calls Dominick’s Chubby Checkers buddies to help Dominick through his crisis; but Dominick and his Chubby supporters just end up talking about their favorite foods and how good it feels to eat. Suddenly losing control, they rip the doors off the cabinets, then gorge themselves on spaghetti with tomato sauce, lasagna, pizza, bread, more pasta, ice cream, donuts, chocolate cake, chocolate-covered graham crackers, bran cereal, and more. In the end, Dominick never does become a thin person; though his burgeoning relationship with Lydia (Azzara) takes his mind off eating and he does lose a little poundage, he eventually realizes, “When I eat, I’m me” and learns to love who he is, even if he is a little fat.

Dominick: He was like a mother to me. He always had something on him to eat.

Antoinette (to Dominick, who has just delivered part of his nephew Anthony’s birthday cake): You ate the “ony”!

Dominick: God, why do they want me to be skinny? I’m not so bad as I am. Am I?

Dominick: You know something, Junior? You don’t know how to run your plate. You’re thirty-two years old, you don’t know how to run your plate. The omelet is supposed to come out even with the bread.
Frankie: I told you I don’t want all that bread. You made me too much bread. You always make me too much bread.
Dominick: And you don’t even dip your bread. I made the omelet nice and soft in the middle so you could dip your bread (dipping the bread in Frankie’s eggs).
Frankie: Get out of my eggs.
Dominick: A little bit of hot pepper on it.
Frankie: Will you stop putting hot pepper on my eggs!
Dominick: You don’t even butter your bread. Look, no jelly? Here, this nice jelly Zi Marie made: apricot and pineapple. Oh, nice, here.
Frankie: I told you, I don’t want that much bread. Don’t you understand? I’ve been telling you that for a hundred years. You love bread. I don’t love bread. I like bread. Don’t you understand I gotta watch my weight?

Dominick: Dinner. Lasagna for you. Broiled chicken and kale and nonfat milk for me. No bread. Come on. Eat. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help me.
Frankie: … Great lasagna. How’s your kale?
Dominick: Thrilling. Thrilling. Want some bread? One piece. (placing it next to Frankie’s plate) In case you change your mind.

Released 1980
Written and directed by Anne Bancroft
Starring Dom DeLuise as Dominick DiNapoli, Anne Bancroft as Antoinette, Ron Carey as Frankie, Candice Azzara as Lydia, Michael Lombard as Charlie, and Estelle Reiner as Mrs. Goodman

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Color Purple

Lauded for depicting the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, The Color Purple does not show much in the way of family meals, but it does have a wonderful breakfast sequence. Still smitten with Shug (Avery), the woman he was too afraid to marry many years ago, Albert (Glover) brings her home to his farm after her performance and their night carousing in town, expecting his wife, Celie (Goldberg), to both allow him his pleasure and wait on his beloved. When Shug demands breakfast in the morning, Albert, so eager to ingratiate himself, insists upon cooking, though he doesn’t even know how to heat up the stove; but Shug completely rebuffs his efforts, hurling the charred food against the wall while screaming that he’s trying to kill her. Pleased to see her husband suffer abuse for once, Celie proceeds to make Shug a splendid breakfast repast: pancakes with butter, ham steak, fried eggs, grits, biscuits with honey, and coffee. Nervously, Celie slides the tray of food inside the door of Shug’s room, waiting across the hall “to see what the wall gonna look like.” Shug skitters the tray out the door and across the floor, but it is empty when she does so—causing Celie to smile in spite of herself.

Celie: I just stand back, and I wait to see what the wall gonna look like. See what kind of colors Shug’s gonna put on there now.

Released 1985
Directed by Stephen Spielberg
Novel by Alice Walker; screenplay by Menno Meyjes

Starring: Danny Glover as Albert Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Johnson, Margaret Avery as Shug Avery, Oprah Winfrey as Sofia, Willard E. Pugh as Harpo Johnson, Akosua Busia as Nettie Harris, Rae Dawn Chong as Squeak, and Laurence Fishburne as Swain

Awards: 1987 ASCAP Film and Television Music Award for Top Box Office Film; 1987 Blue Ribbon Award for Best Foreign Language Film; 1986 Casting Society of America, USA, Artios Award for Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama; 1986 Directors Guild of America, USA, Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures; 1986 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama (Goldberg); 1988 Image Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture (Goldberg) and Outstanding Motion Picture; 1986 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director; 1985 National Board of Review, USA, Award for Best Actress (Goldberg) and Best Film-English Language; 2005 Black Movie Awards for Classic Cinema Hall of Fame

Fun Facts: The Color Purple was Whoopi Goldberg’s first feature film and Oprah Winfrey’s first movie.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

An Armadillo Cake?!?

Clairee: Where’s the other one you were talking about? “Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa.”
Truvy: That’s simple. You don’t need to write that down. That’s a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, a cup of fruit cocktail with the juice. Then you mix and bake at 350 until gold and bubbly.
Clairee: Sounds awfully rich.
Truvy: It is. So I serve it over ice cream to cut the sweetness.

Shelby: Wedding cake in the dining room and the groom’s cake … hidden in the carport?
M’Lynn: Shelby and I, we agree on one thing.
Shelby and M’Lynn: The groom’s cake.
Shelby: It’s awful. It’s in the shape of a giant armadillo.
Truvy: An armadillo? You’re joking, right?
Shelby: No, Jackson wanted a cake in the shape of an armadillo. He’s got an aunt that makes them.
Clairee: It’s unusual.
M’Lynn: It’s repulsive. It’s got gray icing. I can’t even begin to think how you’d make gray icing.
Shelby: Worse, the cake part is red velvet cake. Blood red. People are gonna be hacking into this poor animal that looks like it’s bleeding to death.

Known much more for its catty Southern repartee than its Southern food, Steel Magnolias brings together a host of superb actresses to depict the strength and resilience of women who face life’s inevitable uncertainty, loss, and death. The film does include a famously funny “food” scene, in which the bride’s father (Skerritt) requests a slice of the groom’s cake, a red velvet concoction shaped like an armadillo, from his sworn enemy and neighbor (MacLaine). Without a word, she slices off the tail and butt of the armadillo and plops it on his plate—to which he responds poker-faced, “Nothing like a good piece of ass.”

Drum: Ouiser, can we call a truce long enough for me to get a piece of cake?
(Ouiser cuts off the tail and butt of the armadillo cake and plops it on Drum’s plate.)
Drum: Thanks, Ouiser. Nothing like a good piece of ass.

Ouiser: Yes, Annelle, I pray! Well, I do! There, I said it, I hope you're satisfied.
Annelle: I suspected this all along!
Ouiser: Oh! Well don't you expect me to come to one of your churches or one of those tent-revivals with all those Bible-beaters doin' God-only-knows-what! They'd probably make me eat a live chicken!
Annelle: Not on your first visit!
Clairee: Very good, Annelle! Spoken like a true smart-ass!

Fun Facts: The film is set in the fictional town of Chinquapin in Chinquapin Parish, Louisiana. The word chinquapin is the name of both a fish and a variety of oak tree. Coincidentally, the real town and parish of Natchitoches, where the movie was filmed, are named after the Naktosh Native Americans, and naktosh means “those who eat chinquapin.”

Released 1989
Directed by Herbert Ross
Written (play and screenplay) by Robert Harling

Starring Sally Field as M’Lynn Eatenton, Dolly Parton as Truvy Jones, Shirley MacLaine as Ouiser Boudreaux, Daryl Hannah as Annelle Dupuy Desoto, Olympia Dukakis as Clairee Belcher, Julia Roberts as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie, Tom Skerritt as Drum Eatenton, Sam Shepard as Spud Jones, and Dylan McDermott as Jackson Latcherie
Awards: 1990 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Julia Roberts); 1990 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture (tie with Batman)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Benny & Joon: Grilled Cheese with an Iron

Benny and Joon is a sweet comedy to which Johnny Depp brings his mastery of quirky characters: in this case, Sam, a young man with little schooling but a great talent for juggling and other physical gags. He becomes “housekeeper” to Benny (Quinn) and his mentally ill sister Joon (Masterson) but is soon doing more for them than cleaning house.
Joon has her own food habits: mixing her breakfast of milk, cereal, and peanut butter in a blender, or picking the raisins out of her tapioca pudding. But the real food laughs belong to Sam, who makes “smashed” potatoes with a tennis racquet and “grills” cheese sandwiches with a hot iron on an ironing board. These are not kitchen techniques that we’ve ever tried, but we would recommend boiling the potatoes first until they’re soft, and for the cheese sandwiches, it would probably be best to hold the steam.

Joon: He can really cook, can't he?
Benny: Uh, yeah. Although for grilled cheese, I mighta used a wool setting.
Joon: That's what I told him.
Benny: Really? What-what did he use?
Joon: Rayon.
Benny: Mm.
Joon: Silk would have been too soggy. Cotton would have...
Benny: Would have burned it.
Joon: Right. Fortunately, he consulted me before giving it steam. I was four square against it.
Sam: You don't like raisins?
Joon: Not really.
Sam: Why?
Joon: They used to be fat and juicy. Now they're twisted. They had their life stolen. Well, they taste sweet, but really they're just humiliated grapes. I can't say I’m a big supporter of the Raisin Council.
Sam: Did you see those raisins on TV? The ones that sing and dance and stuff?
Joon: They scare me.
Sam: Yeah, me too.
Joon: It's sick. The commercial people, they make them sing and dance so people will eat them.
Sam: It's a shame about raisins.
Joon: Cannibals.
Sam: Yeah.
Released 1993
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Story by Barry Berman and Lesley McNeil; screenplay by Barry Berman
Starring Johnny Depp as Sam, Mary Stuart Masterson as Juniper “Joon” Pearl, Aidan Quinn as Benjamin “Benny” Pearl, Julianne Moore as Ruthie, Oliver Platt as Eric, CCH Pounder as Dr. Garvey, and William H. Macy as Randy Burch

Fun Facts:
Depp modeled his “dancing rolls” gag at the diner on that of Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Can't Take It With You

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Kaufman and Hart, You Can’t Take It With You is a comedy with a message (some viewers prefer it to Capra’s more famous It’s a Wonderful Life). Though the family, presided over by Grandpa Vanderhof (Barrymore), sits down to dinner twice in the movie, the more memorable meal is the one that isn’t served, because Tony (Stewart) deliberately brings his parents to meet Alice (Arthur) and her family one day early. The household goes hysterical to put together a decent repast, but it is certainly an “eclectic” menu: beer, frankfurters with mustard, canned salmon, canned corn, sauerkraut, pickled pigs’ feet, scrambled eggs, and plain salad. Most fortunately for the guests, intrusion by the “police” and a cacophony of fireworks prevent the meal from ever taking place.

(A scene of enthusiastic pandemonium in the living room: Essie and Boris are dancing; Ed is playing the xylophone; Penny is painting; Grandpa is throwing darts.)
Mrs. Kirby: Are we too early?
Donald: I’ll say. (whistles)
Grandpa: It’s perfectly all right.
Penny: Why, of course. Only we thought it was to be tomorrow night.
Mr. and Mrs. Kirby: Tomorrow night?
Tony: That’s very funny.
Mrs. Kirby: Really, Tony, this is most embarrassing.
Grandpa: No, we weren’t doing a thing.
Penny: Why no, just having a quiet evening at home.
Grandpa: Yes, but don’t let that bother you. Please, come in. Come in, won’t you?

Released 1938
Directed by Frank Capra
Play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Starring Lionel Barrymore as Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, James Stewart as Tony Kirby, Jean Arthur as Alice Sycamore, Edward Arnold as Anthony P. Kirby, Ann Miller as Essie Carmichael, Mischa Auer as Boris Kolenkhov, Spring Byington as Penny Sycamore, Samuel S. Hinds as Paul Sycamore, Donald Meek as Poppins, Dub Taylor as Ed Carmichael, Mary Forbes as Mrs. Anthony P. Kirby, Lillian Yarbo as Rheba, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as Donald, and Halliwell Hobbes as Mr. DePinna

Awards: 1939 Academy Awards for Best Director (Capra) and Best Picture

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Dog's Breakfast

Marilyn: VoilĂ !
Patrick: You can’t feed him that.
Marilyn: Why not? The raw-food diet’s supposed to be good for them. Apparently, it will give him a shiny coat, and his poo won’t smell.
Patrick: You’re feeding Ryan to Mars.
Marilyn: No, not all at once. I don’t want him to get sick.
Patrick: What about me?
Marilyn: We could scatter him around the garden, I guess, but there’s always a chance that they’ll find him. Well, some of him.
Patrick (taking the dog dish from Marilyn): It just seems wrong.
Marilyn: That’s because it is wrong.

Cereal divided by colors for Patrick. Dogfood for Mars. Steak on a bruised forehead for Ryan. Plain noodles and vegetarian omelet for Kate. Pancakes, bacon, sausage, and orange slices for Ryan and Patrick. Spaghetti with tomato sauce for Marilyn and Chris. Hot chocolate with marshmallows for Patrick. And a fake corpse, supposedly ground up and fed to the dogs.

Patrick: You’re feeding him to the neighbors’ dogs.
Marilyn: Well, Mars can’t eat him all.
Patrick: Why not?
Marilyn: There’s quite a bit. He didn’t look like that big of a guy, but we have made quite a meal out of him.

Patrick: He made great breakfasts.
Marilyn: Well, now he can make great lunches and dinners as well.

Patrick: To be honest, I’m finding your whole response to murder thing a little peculiar.
Marilyn: Oh, I’m sorry. Is there some sort of standard response? How am I supposed to respond?
Patrick: Oh, I don’t know, maybe not quite so eager to turn your soulmate into kibbles and bits. These are not the actions of a vegetarian. Whatever happened to ovo-lacto-pesto, huh?
Marilyn: Bless you.

Patrick (trying to brush Mars’s teeth): That’s it, that’s it, just a little bit more. C’mon, it’s easy, just… (brushes his own teeth with Mars’ toothbrush).
Patrick (as Mars walks away): Fine, suit yourself, dog breath. (continues brushing teeth, then--) What have you been eating?

Released 2006
Written and directed by David Hewlett
Starring David Hewlett as Patrick, Kate Hewlett as Marilyn, Paul McGillion as Ryan, and Mars the Dog as Mars