November 14, 2011
Fans of the British foodwriter Nigel Slater will be interested to hear that the film adaption of his autobiography "Toast" has completed the fllm festival circuit and has been making the rounds of mainstream theatres in North America since September. Which means, if our theatres know their Vancouver audience, it could be playing locally before the end of the holiday season.
Toast: the Movie, a kind of "Billy Elliot of the kitchen, focuses on Slater's upbringing in a middle-class, '60s British household, and stars Oscar Kennedy and Freddie Highland as the respective child and teenage Slater, as well as Helena Bonham Carter as the 'common' stepmother with whom he competes for the love of his widower father.
As far as craftmanship goes, the film has received mixed reviews from the critics. TimeOut New York, for example, described its "rosy nostalgia" as "the cinematic equivalent of wax fruit". Nevertheless, the savoury look at the dark ages of English food, a time when canned peas were standard fare and spaghetti was regarded as exotically suspicious, should appeal to the die-hard foodie audience. Especially tasty is the lemon meringue pie showdown between Kennedy and Bonham Carter.
If the multiplex screens pass it over, will we have to wait for DVD? It's too bad that the real Nigel Slater snubbed the Sprout Award he received from Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks in 2010, as the arts supporting local cookbook store would have been the ideal venue which which to present a book/restaurant dinner/film screening promo event.
It's also another good example of why we need to bend the serving-of-food-and-drink rules for our few remaining and financially struggling art house theatres, as a food, film and cocktail night themed on 1960s sensibilities would be delicious.
* See best quality trailer here.
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