Whoever opined to the effect that there’s “no such thing as a free lunch” would do well to visit the Middletown Township Public Library here in April, where every Monday afternoon spotlights a different cinematic confection; centered around a foodie theme and served up absolutely free of charge. With all screenings beginning at 2:30 pm, it’s a celluloid smorgasbord that boasts some bold international flavors, some spicy scripting, and maybe just a little bit of scenery-chewing on the part of the actors.
The four-course matinee commences this Monday, April 6, with a showing the 2014 British dramedy The Trip to Italy. Steve Coogan (soon on display in the Showtime series Happyish) and Rob Brydon co-star in director Michael Winterbottom’s film as “themselves;” a pair of talkative friends who maintain an ongoing dialogue (on life, love and other weighty things) while competing for the viewer’s attention with some spectacular scenery and a spread of regional culinary delights. Edited into feature-length format from a 2014 BBC series, it’s a sequel to 2010’s The Trip, in which Rob and Steve similarly tour northern England — and it serves as an engaging appetizer, for the schedule that follows.
Notable as what was most likely the first feature film adapted from a blog, Nora Ephron’s 2009 Julie & Julia draws its inspiration from Julie Powell’s account of her attempt to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s landmark Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a single year — juxtaposing 21st century scenes of Powell (played by Amy Adams) with flashbacks to the life of famed TV French Chef Child (themselves drawn from her autobiography, My Life in France). Meryl Streep nails the role of Julia Child with her customary awesomeness and authority, and she’s abetted in her sequences by Stanley Tucci in what most critics agreed was one-half of a great film. It screens on Monday, April 13.
The afternoon of April 20 delivers a foreign-made item that flew well under the radar of American audiences when it came out in 2006. Written and directed by Ali Rafie and set in Iran, The Fish Fall In Love takes off from the ancient legend of Scheherezade; centering around a young man who discovers, upon returning to his family’s onetime home, that the place has been commandeered as a restaurant by a young woman and her family. In an attempt to dissuade him from selling the house, the girl endeavors to cook him a different delicious meal each and every day.
The April series concludes on Monday the 27th with something of a sinful dessert — Fatso, a comic portrait of a middle-aged man battling obesity, insecurity and lifelong habits. A 1980 project from executive producer Mel Brooks, the film spotlights a rare leading-role performance from Brooks regular Dom DeLuise — and stands as the sole feature written and directed by the Academy Award winning actress (and then-Mrs. Brooks), the late Anne Bancroft.