The recent release of Julie & Julia added another warm-and-fuzzy movie to the pantheon of feel-good flicks with a food theme. The plot structure is well-known and surprisingly consistent -- an unhappy/dissatisfied/emotionally inhibited protagonist uses food/eating/cooking as a way to gain self enlightenment/love/happiness.
A long line of highly successful films follows this recipe -- Chocolat, Like Water for Chocolate, Eat Drink Man Woman, and Mostly Martha, to name a few.
But there's an opposite strain of food movies that delve into the "baser" human instincts. These films unapologetically combine food themes such as hunger and gluttony with other basic human drives like sex, death, and violence. Cannibalism is a recurring theme. So with these not-so-warm-and-fuzzy themes in mind, here are the top five most bizarre food movies.
The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
British director Peter Greenaway has made a reputation through challenging and stylistic films. This movie can be interpreted on many levels -- as a political parable, a pure artistic statement, a comment on human instincts such as gluttony and aggrandizement. However you read the film, it's a must-see film for any connoisseur of food movies.
Eating Raoul (1982)
The height of low-budget, B-movie camp, Eating Raoul is a minor cult classic about a couple who want to open a new restaurant and go about the task in very interesting ways. In the final scene when they are entertaining a potential investor in the restaurant, they serve a very unique meal.
Although many bizarre food movies market themselves as "black comedies," few reach that level. They are more bizarre than comedic. One exception is Delicatessen, which is a clever, well-made, and entertaining movie. And yes, it is about cannibalism.
La Grande Bouffe (1973)
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Leave it up to a Franco-Italian production team to come up with a movie plot about four middle-aged men who decide to commit suicide by gorging on food and sex. This movie caused outrage at the time of its release, and although many ensuing years of vulgar cinema have lessened the shock, it's still one of the most bizarre food movies ever made.
This Korean-made film came out the same year as the much-loved, feel-good food movie Big Night. But there is definitely nothing feel-good about this difficult and challenging movie. Surprisingly, the US-made trailer tries to spin it as a light-hearted comedy romp. It's not. After watching this movie, you may never eat Korean food again.