Food Criticism

Culture Warrior

Two weeks ago, thousands of people read a restaurant review in full for the very first time. Many of these people don’t live anywhere near the restaurant, or would have no intention of visiting it if they did. Pete Wells’s Socratic takedown of Guy Fieri’s bloated American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square is an exemplary work of fiery, hilarious, righteously indignant criticism. By constructing nearly the entire review through questions, Wells paints a detailed picture of his experience while simultaneously explicating, point-by-point, its astronomical failure. So why the hell am I writing about a review of a restaurant on a movie site? As the vast reception and ensuing conversation about Wells’s review indicates, the implications of this singular work stem far beyond food criticism. Movie critics and restaurant critics may seem to have as much in common as apples and celluloid in the world of written evaluation. However, as leisure activities, movie theaters and restaurants share a great deal. After all, dining out and moviegoing just about weigh even in the ritual of the American first date, and these activities are regularly combined, sometimes simultaneously (thanks, Alamo Drafthouse!). But beyond the disparate objects of analysis, Wells’s work brings to light several important concerns particular to the enterprise of film criticism.

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Paul Feig has been winning nerd hearts for years now by directing episodes of beloved TV shows like Freaks and Geeks, The Office, and Arrested Development, but last year he won the hearts of the whole world when he directed the lady-centric comedy Bridesmaids, and sold about a gabillion movie tickets in the process. Seeing as he’s now such a well-regarded figure, it would stand to reason that everyone is eagerly anticipating whatever he’s going to do next. Well, lucky us, Deadline Royal Oaks has some news about one of his upcoming projects. Feig is attached to direct a film called Garlic and Sapphires, which is an adaptation of the memoirs of “New York Times” food critic Ruth Reichl. The source material details the lengths she used to go to in order to disguise herself and dine in top restaurants semi-anonymously (apparently it involved wearing a lot of sapphires). Before Feig gets to work on the film, however, Deadline says that Elizabeth Sarnoff will be giving the screenplay a rewrite.

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