Saturday, September 8, 2012

Foodie (2012) - A True Delicacy

On the Menu: FOODIE (2012)

Ingredients: Nick Karner, David Berberian, Jeff Alguire, Tony Hughes, Meredith Leigh Sause, Tracey Coppedge, Emlee Vassilos, Gilly Conklin, John Jimerson and Alena Koch. Directed by Christopher G. Moore. Run time: 29 minutes. Rated: Not rated.

At First Bite: A friend and former coworker, Christopher Moore, has made some pretty impressive short films in the last few years: HARD STAPLED, BURSTERSI SEE U and FLUSH WITH FEAR. And, they've progressively gotten better. FOODIE is his latest, and it's making the rounds on the festival circuit.

C-Mo, as I affectionately call him, was my boss back when I worked at a video store while in college. Everyone there knew he would be doing stuff like this eventually. And, we all knew he'd be great at it.

Mueller (Karner) loves food. It's what he lives for, and the culmination of his existence occurs when his co-worker, Chef Lando (Berberian), invites him to attend a top-secret supper club called Kitchen X.

The other attendees include the host chef, Brandon X (Hughes), Teddy (Sause), French Milt (Alguire), Darla (Vassilos), Shannon (Conklin) and the wine aficionados, Beth (Coppedge) and Greg (Jimerson).

First rule of Kitchen X? You do not talk about Kitchen X.


Second Helping: Honestly, I've watched the movie about 8 times just to make sure I got my fill. There's more pressure when you're writing a review for someone you know, and you want to give your best effort.

Tough to Swallow: The wine commercial ran a little long for my tastes (about 30 seconds too long). We get the gist of Beth and Greg's obsession with the S&M portion, and there's enough of their crazy left over to see at dinner. Also, I think we should have seen the ad from Mueller's perspective only -- its TV quality makes it stand out from the crispness of the rest of the film.

The quality of audio changes during Mueller's phone conversation with Hannah. It's most notable at the end. Perhaps his last couple lines were added in later because they sound more hollow than the rest.

The cell phone has no service when Mueller answers it.

Mueller's scream can be heard in the dining room, but Greg's scream, a room closer to the dinner guests, goes pretty much unnoticed.

The blood smear on the fridge varies by shot.

The focus is soft here and there.

To me, the introduction to the bathtub scene might have worked better had it been a slow reveal.

I question why Mueller receives the invitation. Food is his life. There isn't a motive for his selection. I'd understand the choice if he had run a competing restaurant out of business, made someone sick, fired someone, etc. It would seem just as easy to create a similar scheme for someone like Shannon Von Vuster, whose ties to food go unmentioned, or blogger Darla, who might have written a bad review.

After multiple viewings, Brandon's accent begins to become unappetizing. I think maybe it was just that the actor repeatedly uses a filler in mid-sentence ("I would like to thank Beth and, uh, Greg for pairing this with their lovely pinot from, uh, Stover Creek.")

Something to Chew On: Moore directed, co-wrote, produced and edited the film. He also shares the credit for visual effects.

The budget was $3,326, which was raised through Kickstarter.

Co-writer and co-producer Eryk Pruitt is also credited as an extra. He is also the owner of the bathtub.

Moore said he came onto the film in August 2011 and worked on pre-production until shooting began in November. Shooting continued into December, and pick-up shots were filmed in January. The first screening was April 28 at the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival.

Exteriors of Kitchen X were shot at The Myers House in Hillsborough, NC.

Brandon's ringtone is the theme from Moore's BURSTERS.

POV shots were influenced by Jonathan Demme's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. BBC's "Sherlock" inspired some transitions.

Being a STAR WARS geek, I'm sure Moore had something to do with the naming of Chef Lando.

I think there is a nod to FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF as well (when Hannah calls Mueller's name twice on the phone).

FOODIE was nominated for Best Horror at the 2012 Cape Fear Independent Film Festival.

The flick won the Grand Prize award for Best Original Fiction at the 2012 ConCarolinas Short Film Festival.

Don't confuse this film with the 2012 13-minute short called FOODIE directed by Aaron Rudelson.

Check out this clever bit of marketing (1 of 6):

Aftertaste: I feel really awful that it took me nearly a month to get this review out into the world.

Note to self: Make sure you're connected to the internet when typing a full review on your blog. The reason? Because your computer automatically saves your progress if you're connected, and you'll have that backup if your computer decides to freeze. Otherwise, you have to start over from scratch, which, as you can see by the length of this review, is a pain in the rump.

Okay, on to the review. I was really excited to see this film. I would say the horror comedy is my favorite of all genres. Plus, it's a movie where food is front and center, which is perfect for this blog.

The opening title sequence is very impressive. Seriously, it's probably one of my favorite things about the film. It really gets your mouth watering.

The writing is smart. We're introduced to a ridiculous amount of foodie vocabulary, which might as well have been Greek. The one-liners aren't too cheesy and don't feel forced. Credit also goes to the actors. Most of the them seem to deliver their lines with ease. The character of Beth is a little overpowering, but I don't fault Coppedge in her acting. Mueller, on the other hand, is rather bland for a protagonist. As far as the best characters go, French Milt and Chef Lando take the cake.

Camerawork is another plus. My favorite moments include Mueller walking down the hallway, the canted angle shot when Brandon announces dinner is ready, and the low angle shot in the kitchen near the end. I was also very pleased with the editing. The transition from the inside of Mueller's car to the outside of Kitchen X is pretty sweet. Two other transitions I enjoyed are choice cuts on sound, e.g., the clinking of wine glasses --> Hannah and her wine glass, and the thud on the floor --> Mueller opening his eyes.

The inclusion of Darla's "tweet" is a fun touch as well.

I have to say the special effects are awesome considering the budget. Normally, I'm okay with movie blood, but the scene with the cleaver almost made my stomach turn every time. It's rather unsavory. Funnily enough, the only other movie to make me feel similar was RULES OF ATTRACTION, and it was also a scene featuring a bathtub (I almost passed out).

The final shot of the film is, by far, is my favorite thing of all. Just exquisite.

Watching FOODIE reminded me of a little of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME and the 1995 black comedy THE LAST SUPPER, which would be a nice pairing if you were planning on a movie night. Other enticing double-feature ideas would be DELICATESSEN, PARENTS, EATING RAOUL and RAVENOUS.

Moore's FOODIE might be just around 30 minutes long, but it brings a lot to the table. Sure, it's not perfect, but every film has its gristle.

So, look for this at a film festival near you. If you aren't lucky enough to find a screening, keep up with the film on Facebook or its own website.

And, if you've seen FOODIE and don't agree with me that it's finger lickin' good...

Eat me.