Burnt – Movie Review

Burnt is one of those food movies that manages to balance the story of food and the human story of redemption into an enjoyable tale.

Release Date: October 30, 2015
Writer: Steven Knight
Director: John Wells
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Omar Sy

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a disgraced “Two Michelin” star chef. Jones has left the world he loves, the restaurant kitchen, thanks to a self-destructive downward spiral associated with the drug, women and rock n’ roll lifestyle of the cooking world. As penance, Jones exiles himself to a small Louisiana restaurant until he has shucked one million oysters.

Burnt follows the struggle back to the top of London’s culinary ladder as Jones pursues his third Michelin Star. To make his dream a reality, Jones has to visit some old demons to finance a restaurant, build a talented cooking staff and find inspiration to “cook food so good, people forget to eat.”

The search of a restaurant comes from his former business partner, Tony (Daniel Bruhl). Reminded of Jones true talent as a chef, Tony agrees to open and finance the new restaurant under the condition that Jones submit to weekly drug tests administered by psychiatrist Dr. Rosshide (Emma Thompson).

For his staff, Jones calls on Michel (Omar Sy), whom Jones has ruined his restaurant open with several rats and a call to the health department. There is also ex-convict Max (Ricardo Scamarcio) and finally, a single mother, Helene (Sienna Miller), who is an up-and-coming chef on her way to culinary heights. Did I mention she plays a woman? Do you think this will be an important fact later in the film?

First, Burnt is not only a movie about food but about the driven nature of the best chefs in the world. These chefs cannot never afford to be complacent, but must always be creating, innovating and competing against one another. This world is exciting and engaging and captured brilliantly on film. Cooper does not fake anything in this movie and was clearly advised by the best chefs to make this movie as accurate as possible.

Second, Burnt is a story of redemption. When a person reaches the lowest point in his life, what does he or she become when you take away the drugs and alcohol. In Jones, you see this struggle of a man dealing with the pressure of attaining perfection with just his sheer will. In the end, what happens to a man when his pursuit of perfection is popped like a balloon and there’s no way to put the pieces back together.

It is the story of redemption that makes Burnt the movie to watch. It is also this story that somehow manages to make the fascinating world of food take a back seat. It is hard to a human story feel real without going into the old bag of tricks of clichés. While Burnt uses several of these tricks, like the old everyone here believes in you and your old mentor wanted to you have his knife set, these tricks are perfectly spread out through the movie. Also, characters are developed well enough, that when the cliché appear, it feels right. Such as the final battle with Jones’ nemesis and former classmate Chef Reece (Matthew Rhys).

Burnt is a good movie because it takes its audience into the driven world of the world class restaurants and the crazy people who choose to be the stars in this world.

Bridge of Spies – Movie Review

Bridge of Spies is the story of seasoned insurance lawyer, James Donovan (Tom Hanks). At the request of the United States government, Donovan would be reluctantly enlisted to serve as the defense attorney of a Russian spy.

Release Date: October 16, 2015
Writer: Matt Charman, Ethan & Joel Coen
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda

Bridge of Spies takes place during the height of the Cold War in the 1960’s. Germany was divided between East and West and the Berlin Wall was erected to prevent East German citizens from escaping. Both the United States and Russia were spying on one another and it was only a matter of time before one was caught.

That time is now with the capture of a Russian spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). The web of diplomacy is complicated. Russia will not acknowledge Abel as a spy, but wants him back before he gives up Russian intelligence. The United States, on the other hand, has a spy and needs to conduct a proper trial to show that Abel trial and fair and authentic.

No one wants to defend a spy. The United States government forces insurance lawyer, James Donovan, to defend Abel, even though this will most likely ruin his reputation socially and professionally. Master storyteller, Steven Spielberg, rightly spends little time on the trial. It’s clear in just one interaction with the judge and district attorney that the trial would appear fair, but there’s no way the spy was going to be found innocent.

Not soon after the trial, Air Force pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot out of the sky on a U2 spy mission. Powers flew at high altitudes over Russia to take photographs. Instead of destroying the plane and committing suicide, Powers is captured and interrogated as an American spy.

Because of his relationship to Russian spy, Abel, James Donovan is asked by the U.S. Government to negotiate the exchange of Powers and Abel. To throw a final wrinkle into the plan, a U.S. economics student is captured in East Berlin by the East Germans. While the U.S. Government wants to trade spy for a spy, Donovan insists that the innocent college student is also included in the deal.

Bridge of Spies is a historical thriller about time that many Americans have lived through. Sadly, our memories of that time are slowly fading. Writers Mark Charman and the Coen Brothers with director Steven Spielberg weave an engaging tale with great actors, Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance.

Filmmakers successfully tell a straightforward story about this period of time in a way that is thrilling and easy-to-follow. They also tell an emotional story in which you feel stress the pressure that each of the characters in history refacing at the time. And without ever saying it these moments silent moments of time to convey how America was feeling about each person.

Bridge of Spies is also spy movie. The problem is Donovan is an average person.  He is civilian. Unlike James Bond, Donovan doesn’t have a gun, has no fighting skills or possess cool gadgets for protection. Yet he is being sent into the hostile ground in East Berlin to negotiate for America without the United States government acknowledging that he has any authority to do so. It Donovan is arrested, kidnapped, or caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, there is no one there to help them.

There’s a moment when Donovan is on a subway train reading his newspaper. The headline of the paper reveals that Donovan is going to defend the spy in a case as being brought all the way to the Supreme Court. And without any words is neighboring passengers on the train convey how America feels about Donovan at this point in history. A scene at the end of the movie mirrors is exact scene and without words expresses it once again America’s new feeling toward Donovan.

Bridge of Spies is one of those movies you watch because it’s educational, engaging and well told, well directed and well acted. Has an incredible repeat viewing and is the perfect example as to why Steven Spielberg is a master storyteller. For those of us who live through the Gary Powers trial, this movie reveals a lot that we didn’t know about and makes little-known James Donovan the United States hero.

The Test Rises Over the OC Fairgrounds for Cirque Du Soliel

KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities from Cirque du Soleil’s new touring show will be performing under the iconic blue-and-yellow Big Top at the OC Fair and Event Center opening October 15 through November 29, 2015

Written and directed by Michel Laprise, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities™ is a tale in which time comes to a complete stop, transporting the audience inside a fantasy world where everything is possible. In this realm set in the latter half of the nineteenth century, reality is quite relative indeed as our perception of it is utterly transformed. The name of the show refers to the humble and strange characters that inhabit the Seeker’s Cabinet of Curiosities.