“Be an artist on your own time! It’s my restaurant!”
Metaphors are cool, okay? Similes and parallels and references are awesome literary devices that can often work wonders when translated into different realms of art – like filmmaking, where traditionally written nods to other things and people and senses can be portrayed visually. Or, in the case of Jon Favreau’s Chef, they can be shown quite overtly, because there’s little doubt that the filmmaker’s latest outing is its own giant reference to the Hollywood machine that he is still a part of.
Favreau pulls triple duty on the film – he wrote it, directed it, and stars in it – and it’s clearly a passion project for him. But how much of it has he pulled from his own life? In the film, Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) is a talented cook who gives into the demands of his boring boss (played by Dustin Hoffman, which sounds awesome) and subsequently biffs things big time. An unfavorable review sinks Carl, and he attempts to rebuild his life and career – one ruined by critics and people who don’t want to let him do his own thing – by setting out to make his own food in a rehabbed little food truck. The food truck may as well be the indie movie of the chef scene, and Hoffman might as well be wearing a shirt that says “executive producer” on it.
See what Favreau’s cooked up (and how many parallels you can find with Hollywood) with the very first Chef trailer, after the break.
Our own head chef Neil Miller saw the film when it bowed last month at SXSW, and he couldn’t help but mention some of the film’s very obvious parallels between movie-making and food-cooking, writing:
“Where it gets weird is in the way that Favreau incorporates a number of subplots that range from the perplexing to the outright useless. The first of which is the film’s obsession with ‘online critics’ and how they are hurtful people. It feels a lot like Favreau, who took a beating online for Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens, wanted to exercise some personal demons by pointing out (emphatically) that Chef Carl’s nemesis was a ‘food blogger.’ The problem with the result is that these are people who still adore Favreau’s work. It feels like wasted energy – a lot of wasted energy.”
Will the online contingent be any kinder to Favreau’s latest? Judging by this trailer – which, somewhat curiously, includes plenty of quotes from online writers – it seems like Favs might have just served up something everyone can enjoy, even with an extra dash of weirdness.
Chef opens on May 9th.