Tip of the Week

Eat Drink Man Woman

Food as drama replaced sex in the arthouses for a while: In the year "Eat Drink" was released, "Like Water for Chocolate" and "The Scent of Green Papaya" tweaked the audience's galvanic responses with the carnivorous as much as with the carnal. Ang Lee's 1994 follow-up to "The Wedding Banquet" fit the toothsome trend, but with more on its tables than in its coolly dispassionate story. The succession of fabulous spreads of food (prepared by several on-set chefs) serve as little more than delectable decoration for Lee's becalmed storytelling. In following a repressed Taiwanese father, "Taipei's greatest chef," and his three daughters -- spurned schoolteacher, stressed-out executive, neglected baby -- through their romantic misunderstandings and outrageously elaborate dinner-table rituals, Lee composes an enjoyable slice of soap opera (with distant echoes of "King Lear") while never quite mustering the simmer of either the gustatory muse or the intense passion of fantasy life a movie should be able to capture. But the glimpses of shops, streets and living rooms in Taipei -- a window into the everyday life of another culture -- freshen even the most predictably "unpredictable" turns in the script. The cold beauty of "the Ice Storm" was yet to come.

"Eat Drink" runs 7pm October 30 at Doc Films, 1212 East 59th, 773.702.8574 (Ray Pride)



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