Spoiled for choice on movie options and wondering what to watch next? Here are five recommendations for movies (sometimes loosely) centered around food, feasts or cravings for Thanksgiving.
Tampopo (1985): A sumptuous “ramen western” by Japanese director Juzo Itami. Two truck drivers (one is a baby-faced Ken Watanabe!) help a struggling widow with her roadside noodle cafe. That is the frame tale—within it are vignettes about ordering French gourmet, eating spaghetti like a lady, a fruit-squeezing octogenarian and a young gangster who truly lives to eat. It’s funny, absurd, erotic (I am generally against the idea of sexualized food but seeing a raw egg passed between two lovers is a CULTURAL RESET). Tampopo is also surprisingly heartening too. Watch on HBO Max.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): Tobe Hooper’s classic American slasher, once banned in numerous theaters for its violence. There is very little gore by today’s standards, yet the sweat and terror captured on screen will still make your skin crawl. Visiting family can be stressful—or not visiting family this year can be sad—but let’s be thankful we do not have to dine with crazed cannibals, or even worse, Sally’s obnoxious brother Franklin. There’s never been a better time to re-watch the closing scene and scream along in isolation. Watch on Tubi or Amazon Prime.
Pusher III (2005): The final installment in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Danish crime trilogy. Milo (Zlatko Burić) is a man dealing with immense stress—his recent drug shipment of heroin has come in as ecstasy by mistake, and he has to cook dinner for his daughter’s birthday party. You do not need to watch the first two Pushers to feel the pressure, and it’s nice to see that even gangsters gotta slow down for home cooking (my favorite scene in Goodfellas is dinner with Tommy’s cute Italian mother). Fair warning: the ending is brutal and not for the faint of heart! Watch on Sling TV.
Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980): A documentary by Les Blank about the joys of cooking and eating “the stinking rose.” See interviews from garlic cooks, the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and Werner Herzog. If seeing such a variety of garlic fanatics doesn’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will! Blank has charmingly recommended that screenings include a toaster oven with several heads of garlic be turned on at the rear of the theater, unbeknownst to the audience. Watch on Criterion Channel.
Waitress (2007): I wanted to end this list on a sweet note with director/writer/actor Adrienne Shelly’s last film. This is a sweet, sincere rom-com about a waitress trapped in an unhappy marriage in a small Southern town. Jenna (Keri Russell) works at a diner, baking inventive pies with names reflecting her life such as “I Hate My Husband Pie,” “Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser Pie” and eventually “Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie.” Watch on Hulu.
Delicatessen (1991): Prime
Like Water for Chocolate (1992): Hulu or HBO Max
Ratatouille (2007): Disney+
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