Sunday, May 1, 2011

Movie Review: A Matter of Taste

What Eric Ripert says about Paul Liebrandt's food, I apply to A Matter of Taste--"Yeah it is good. I would recommend."

Accumulating over 200 hours of footage and shooting for over nine years, Director Sally Rowe captures the Liebrandt's fall from grace and subsequent revival in the New York dining scene. I am not sure what movie she set out originally to make, but the fickle restaurant business created just the right kind of compelling story set in 68 minutes.


In many ways, A Matter of Taste is similar to Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the other Tribeca Film Festival movie I saw last week. Both are about the key central figure, a man with uncompromising talent and drive. Yet in Jiro's case, the story was nearing its end. The adversity in his establishment at the top had long passed. For Liebrandt on the other hand, the nadir of his career is thrown on the screen. In fact, I could imagine the documentary Liebrandt Dreams of Cooking in fifty years being very similar to Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Yet the comparisons with Jiro soon fall apart. This isn't a food porn movie. In that sense, as a human story, it has a broader appeal than to just foodies. While Liebrandt's dishes are visually appealing, the real work on display is Director Rowe's story telling. She wonderfully portrays Liebrandt as struggling against the tide, going from gastronomic masterpieces to grilling up burgers and fries. His struggle with the elusive New York Times reviewer Frank Bruni creates suspense. The audience follows along with Liebrandt's roller coaster life, all the while crossing its fingers and hoping for success.


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