"The Sound of Cooking"
A Review of "Lives with Flavor" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Pablo Gasca, Writers: Pablo Gasca
Rating: 2 Stars, SKIP!
My 11th film of the 43rd Annual Seattle International Film focused one of my favorite types of documentaries; those films that explore the world of fine cooking. Every dish we eat, tells a story. Within the restaurant, there is a story to be told about the chef and those in the kitchen. With the presentation, we can learn of their influences, tastes, culture, and willingness to push against the status quo. "Lives with Flavor" attempts to provide a biographical look at what influences Mexican gastronomy and those who cook it.
For an American audience, our world view is opened. This documentary gets beyond just tacos and takes a deeper dive into Mexico's multi-faceted regions and the totality of their influence. This film also does something I love about these types of documentaries and exposes the audience to the sound of cooking. By utilizing natural sound, we are invited to enter a world of high skill, heat, and never-ending expectations. These films also remove the mystique surrounding a restaurant. Instead, we are allowed to see them as an experience. The facade, decorations, dress of servers, and food are meant to be married together into something that awakens more than your palate.
Where this film fails, is in its attempt to tell a dramatic story. We are compelled by stories, no matter the genre because they possess an emotional arch. The characters must have a great challenge before them and we, as the audience, are there to see that story. "Lives with Flavor" possesses no such dramatic arch. Instead, it is a story of one man's love of Mexican cuisine and the love he generates because of that commitment. Beyond that, there isn't much here.
Be good to each other,