July 15th, 2008
I am a huge lover of quality movies, with a special interest in foodie movies. Sadly, very few of the mainstream movies produced in the US attract my interest, let alone hold it, which is why my collection of foreign films is ever expanding. While I will not bash the US movie industry, I will say that many films made in other countries are, in my opinion, simply superior with regard to writing, acting and direction.
For those who are not aware, No Reservations, the chef/restaurant-themed romantic comedy (starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart) which opened in US theaters in late 2007 and released on DVD in Feb 2008, is actually a remake of the 2001 original German film, Bella Martha (translated Mostly Martha in English, starring Sergio Castellitto and Martina Gedeck). I will not attempt to provide a review of this movie (there are others who are far better at that than I am), I simply want to express myself (albeit a bit late) on this Mostly Martha versus No Reservations issue, which has been on my mind for some time now.
(To view in High Quality, click the HQ button above.)
When I first watched the No Reservations promo trailer last year, I immediately recongised that this movie was, in my opinion, a Hollywood knockoff of my beloved Mostly Martha. However, being a dedicated foodie movie collector, I just had to see it. I wanted to at least give the movie a chance. Now mind you, I wasn’t anxious enough to run out and pay full admission to a cinema for a one-time viewing; rather I opted to wait for the DVD release. While, No Reservations is a decent enough film, there is absolutely no comparison between the two. Mostly Martha has stellar acting, superb writing, great music and ridiculously delicious looking food — it totally trumps the remake, hands down!
For those who are interested and have not seen either movie yet, do yourself a two favours:
1. Do not watch on an empty stomach.
2. See No Reservations first.
*stepping down from my soapbox now*
I leave you with this spot-on review by Alejandra Vernon. I could not have said it any better.
“Written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, “Bella Martha”, strangely translated as “Mostly Martha”, was her first big feature film, and won international awards and delighted many…perhaps mostly women, as it is exquisitely romantic. Martina Gedeck as Martha, the master chef who tries to control her world while it collapses around her, is superb. She has an intense kind of beauty and grace, strong but emotionally fragile, and Gadeck’s body language speaks volumes, and lets us see into her heart with a simple gesture of the hand, or a flicker in her eyes. This is one of the best performances I’ve seen in a very long time.
Her relationship with her 8 year old niece Lina, so well played by Maxime Foreste, is complex, understandable, and very moving, and the chemistry between Martha and Mario, (Sergio Castellitto is perfect in the part) is fabulous, complete opposites attracting. The supporting cast are all excellent, and director Nettelbeck plays Lina’s mother in a touching video sequence.
The score by David Darling and Keith Jarrett is marvelous, with delicate sections of Arvo Part’s music for one of the most tragic scenes, and includes a bit of Dean Martin’s version of “Volare”, and the irresistible, simply scrumptious “Via con Me” by Paolo Conte, a song so happy it would make a bear smile. The cinematography by Michael Bertel is also wonderful, with location shots of Hamburg and Italy, and overflowing vistas of delectable food. I cried, I laughed out loud, and I will always remember this film; it is a small but polished gem.”