Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Film

This vegetable garden? 'It's Complicated'

Ever since "It's Complicated" was released in theaters last week, the online garden community has been buzzing about Jane's (Meryl Streep's) vegetable garden, above. Its lushness, colorfulness, perkiness ... well, it's almost pornographic. One doesn't know whether to envy it, or to be concerned about anyone that eats from it.

Good thing Times staff writer Deborah Netburn tracked down Jon Hutman, the film's production designer, to get all the dirt.

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Studios 

Julie Powell memoir is found less than satisfying so far

Cleaving It's unlikely that Julie Powell -- blogger turned author turned media celebrity and played by Amy Adams in the film "Julie & Julia" -- is smiling over the early reviews for her new book, "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession." The book chronicles her troubled marriage, her sordid affair with another man and her desire to learn the art of butchery. Some highlights:

From the Los Angeles Times, which calls the memoir vain and lacking insight and the author an "unreliable narrator": " 'Cleaving' is an ambitious undertaking. ... An entertaining writer, she almost pulls it off. ... Yet despite some fine writing about butchery, and some not-so-fine writing about romance, 'Cleaving' turns out to be not much more than a rambling recitation -- not to say defense -- of all sorts of bad behavior."

From the Village Voice, whose review includes some of Powell's more explicit language regarding her affair: "How much you'll enjoy the book also depends on how much you'll enjoy Powell's voice, which is by turns solipsistic, grating, endlessly self-indulgent, and, worst of all, boring."

So far, no word on whether this book will be turned into a movie.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Carlo Allegri / Associated Press 

'Twilight: New Moon' giveaway

Got "Twilight: New Moon" tickets?

Jamba Juice is giving away tickets to tonight's 10:10 p.m. showing at the Universal CityWalk Cinemas. The giveaway takes place from 8-10 p.m. -- or until all tickets are gone -- at the Jamba Juice at Universal CityWalk. (Click here for our review of the new movie.)

According to the Jamba Juice news release: "'New Moon' stars Ashley Greene and Dakota Fanning are big fans of Jamba smoothies, so ... Jamba Juice has stashed 300 world premier tickets at 3 California Jamba Juice locations to hook up those special fans in desperate need of last minute tickets."

Tickets were given away last night in Oakland, and will also be given away in San Diego from 2-4 p.m. at the Jamba Juice at San Diego's Mission Valley Mall, between Mission Valley Road and Friars Road. The tickets are for the 7 p.m. screening at the nearby Regal Jack London Theater.

--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch


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Photo credit: Kimberley French/Summit Entertainment via Bloomberg

Mobile vendors recruited in service of the new film "(500) Days of Summer," mad tweeting to ensue

500-days-of-summer The 21st of June (this Sunday) is the first day of summer, which proved a handy promotional tie-in for the upcoming Fox Searchlight film "(500) Days of Summer," starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. To celebrate this summer synchronicity, Fox Searchlight has recruited a slew of mobile vendors (yes, mobile vendors are HOT these days) to hand out free treats to folks who know to ask for them and where to find them. You'll also get some sort of promotional item for the film.

Mobile vendors include: Sprinkles Cupcakes, Coolhaus Ice Cream, Kogi, Juice It Up, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Pink's Hot Dogs, Fiji Water and Red Bull. To search out your free treat, just hop on Twitter and follow @foxsearchlight. Or if you're not a fan of tweet mania, log on to www.500DaysofSummer.com. The fun (it'll be kind of like a tweet-treat treasure hunt -- do you think you can race and get a treat from every truck? Wow, the idea just occurred to me, but I totally have better things to do on the first day of summer) begins at 12 p.m. and lasts until the treats and tweets are gone.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Fox Searchlight Pictures

Summer foodie flicks


Summer blockbuster season has arrived, complete with over-the-top CGI explosions, stockpiles of assault rifles and nausea-inducing marriage proposals.

Thankfully, though, this summer also offers gourmet types some serious food film fodder. There’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding the genre this year: The Berlinale Film Festival had a special screening tent for a handful of food-related movies. Lucky for us, a few of these flicks will be screening in L.A. over the next few weeks.

Here are some that made the final cut:

'Food, Inc.'

Director Robert Kenner has teamed up with famed authors Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser to make an expose that he says “started out as a story of how our food gets to our dinner table, and turned into a horror film.” 

Kenner, who won an Emmy for “The American Experience,” interviewed several commercial farmers for the documentary, which provides a critical look at our nation’s failing industrial food system and how we got into this mess in the first place.

Click here to read our chat with Kenner about "Food, Inc."

Opens Friday at the Nuart Theater; www.foodincmovie.com

Continue reading »

Kids in the pressure cooker


For several years, top L.A. chefs Michael Cimarusti, Conny Andersson, Neal Fraser and the staff at Spago have been mentoring young prospective chefs as part of the Los Angeles CCAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Program).

For these kids, the experience can mean the difference between a career cooking lobster ragout at Providence or flipping burgers at Mickey D’s. But few students make it all the way to these coveted internships.

The film "Pressure Cooker," opening Friday at two L.A. Laemmle theaters, tells the compelling story of three would-be teen chefs who emerge from the chaos of their South Philly neighborhood to successfully compete -- "Top Chef"-style -- for such an experience. More than a dry documentary, says S.T. VanAirsdale of the Reeler, “It's a competition film, it's a coming-of-age story, it's a profile in courage.” 

The film runs throughout the week and on Sunday, a group of young Los Angeles CCAP aspirants will be on hand at the Laemmle Sunset 5 theater to tell their stories and answer questions after the 4:20 and 7:10 p.m. showings. See the trailer here.

Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 848-3500; Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (626) 844-6500.

-- Linda Burum

Photo caption: A scene from "Pressure Cooker." Photo credit: Participant Media.

'The Garden' opens at the Nuart in West L.A.

The-garden Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Academy Award-nominated documentary, "The Garden," is opening at the Nuart Theatre  in West L.A. this Friday. The film unearths the story of the South-Central L.A. farm that stood on 14 acres of land in Los Angeles and was considered the largest urban garden project in the United States.

Kennedy’s film explores the lesser-known land battle that sparked an uproar among citizens, land developers, celebrities and politicians throughout the city, which eventually led to the destruction of the farm and the exodus of its caretakers. They have since relocated to Bakersfield but continue to sell their celebrated greens -- bumpy Bloomsdale spinach, red Russian kale and Swiss chard, among others -- at farmers markets across L.A.

Kennedy will field questions from viewers after the Friday and Saturday 7:30 showings.
11272 Santa Monica Blvd. West Los Angeles, 90025. (310) 281-8223.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo: Kati Lopez holds an armful of corn in "The Garden," about a community garden south of downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Don Normark / Black Valley Films

It's raining burgers and pancakes!

Holy macaroni! It's raining cheeseburgers! And so much more. The charming story of a town called Chewandswallow that gets its weather with a culinary twist is coming to the big screen. And in 3-D.

Like many parents, I have read the 1978 book, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" by Judi and Ron Barrett, about a gazillion times. It's one of those stories that kids just can't hear enough times. A pancake big enough to flatten a building? What's not to love?

The movie features the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Mr. T and Andy Samberg. The Sony Pictures Animation movie, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, is due to open Sept. 18.

-- Mary MacVean

A lot to digest at the Berlinale film festival


The 59th incarnation of the Berlinale film festival was the usual teeming salmagundi of preening celebs, caterwauling paparazzi and geekily bespectacled industry hangers-on conspicuously toting red Berlinale swag bags. But in Kulinarisches Kino, a little adjunct to the festival, a lineup of nine food-themed films took on the mission of exploring the increasing disconnect between ourselves and the source of our food.

The sold-out European premiere of “Food, Inc.,” directed by Los Angeles’ Robert Kenner, opened the sub-program in a 1,895-seat amphitheater that made the graphic, secretly shot scenes in stockyards and poultry packing plants reverberate all the more. (The film will be released stateside in June.)

After the movie, a panel discussion brought together pithy journalists Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser (who appear in the movie); passionately gesticulating Slow Food Movement founder Carlo Petrini; a surprisingly informed Gael García Bernal, the Mexican actor; and assorted German food spokespeople such as former agricultural minister Renate Künast, an organic farmer and a muted, pitiable executive of agribusiness giant Syngenta, who squirmed as the panelists lambasted his role....

Read more here.

Photo: Actress Michelle Pfeiffer walks the red carpet. Credit: Eckehard Schulz / Associated Press

'Food, Inc.' film looks at corporate impact on what we eat

FoodincFood writers Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") and Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma") move to the big screen in "Food, Inc.," a film that looks at what's happened to the production of food in the last few decades.

Producer-director Robert Kenner's movie, which had a screening Thursday night at Sony, covers a range of issues, from the effects of corn syrup on health and farming, to the ways animals are raised and killed, food-borne illnesses and the plight of farmers. The filmmakers, as you might guess from this image from the movie, don't like a lot of what they see.

"The idea that you have to write a book to tell people where their food comes from shows how far removed" they are from it, Pollan says in the film.

"Food, Inc." opens in June in 20 cities, Kenner said. It was shown at the Toronto Film Festival. Warning to squeamish meat-eaters: Shots in chicken houses, slaughterhouses and elsewhere could be tough to watch.

Continue reading »

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.