Friday, January 22, 2016

Now on DVD & Blu-ray and better than you've heard: John Wells' food-porn dramedy, BURNT

Do you really think you want to pass up the chance to view a movie starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl, Uma Thurman, Omar Sy, Matthew Rhys and (for you Italian film lovers) Riccardo Scarmarcio. There are even more good actors involved, but I don't have time to connect all the links). The movie is BURNT, and if you listened to most of the critics, you'd run the other way. Granted, this is no great shakes, but it is a perfectly OK piece of mainstream entertainment, aimed smack dab at audiences who love food porn and chic, pricey restaurants.

As decently directed by John Wells (at left, and who has yet to have a hit film but has given us a couple of perfectly enjoyable and very well-acted mainstream/ arthouse movies: The Company Men and August Osage County) with a screenplay by Stephen Knight (of the marvelous and underseen Locke), Burnt turns out to be a tale of cooking, chef-ing, success, failure, betrayal and, yes, regeneration. But so tasty are all the performances, (of course the cinematog-raphy of the food and its preparation is succulent enough for salivation) that it is easy to sit back on your sofa and enjoy.

Mr. Cooper's character (above and below) is pretty much an asshole, and the actor does not slight us in portraying this. How he treats his staff in the film is said to have turned off mainstream audiences, but more likely, since they can get plenty of food porn and bad-behaving chefs via TV and cable, they took their business elsewhere. Arthouse audiences, more swayed by the critical factor, also stayed away.

Now both can get their fill via home video, and they will most likely be surprised at how enjoyable this movie actually is.  The performances, to a man and a woman, are every bit as succulent as the food. And while the writing and direction is perfectly fine, I do wish that the movie had ended at the point (very near the end) where the word "Service!" is uttered. It is clear that this is indeed the moment to end, and I suspect that the producer's hand came down heavily on the artists involved, forcing them to feed us a feel-good finale. This is particularly stupid because the movie seems to exist in order to tell us that, after all, winning isn't everything.

Well, Ms Miller (above) humanizes things quite a bit, as does the rest of cast, with Mr. Rhys a standout among the supporting roles (that's Herr Brühl, below, left, with Sarah Greene).

From Anchor Bay Entertainment (the original theatrical release came via TWC) and running 101 minutes, Burnt was released last week on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download -- available for both purchase and rental.

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