Bread And Tulips – Silvio Soldini

Image Credits: Monogatari srl / Amka Films SA

Fernando: I hope it’s to your liking.

“Always better than a Chinese.

” I am sorry to contradict you, madam, but the Chinese are the greatest restaurateurs in the world.

Last week I subscribed to MUBI, a curated streaming service that showcases a series of movies from emerging and established filmmakers on a global scale. With the beginning of the new year, MUBI is offering a subscription discount; since I have always been curious about this streaming platform because I love what I like to call “cinéma d’auteur” (arthouse cinema), I decided to subscribe and am very happy about the service.

There are hundreds and hundreds of movies to peruse on MUBI and the platform also notifies you when new ones are available or when they are about to expire. This way I came across an Italian movie that I had previously heard about, a little gem from 2000 titled Bread and Tulips (Pane e Tulipani in Italian) and directed by Silvio Soldini. The movie won critical acclaim when it first came out and it is now considered one of Italy’s best cult movies. ever made; it was restored by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà in 2020 and its restoration enhanced even more the beautiful photography by cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, who also worked in every movie directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

Bread and Tulips is the story of Rosalba, a neglected housewife who is left behind by her family in a highway café while on a bus trip. At first she hitch-hikes trying to get back home but then she meets a series of bizarre characters, including a boy to whom she confides that she has never been to Venice and that she would like to visit the city. Having arrived in Venice, Rosalba comes into contact with various local characters, even finding work as a florist’s helper; not only is her life influenced by these people, but their lives are also influenced by her. All this happens as her husband tries to bring her back to Pescara, where she is from, by having a plumber who improvises as an investigator track her down.

Image Credits: Monogatari srl / Amka Films SA

The film is introspective while also having the appearance of a modern fairy tale (in one scene I noticed a subtle reference to Cinderella); it promotes the importance of freedom and not being trapped by social conventions that make us dissatisfied, unhappy and don’t make us feel like we matter. It is a journey of self-discovery and the world outside, as it shows how sometimes life redirects us towards a more authentic path that gives purpose to our existence.


Do Revenge – Jennifer Kaytin Robinson

Image Credits: Netflix

“My therapist, the beloved Dr. Gratch, says that hurt people hurt people, but I just don’t think that applies to teenage girls. I think sometimes they’re just evil.”

I first heard about Do Revenge while watching a video analysis on Youtube; I was very curious about this new Netflix movie, so I watched it a couple of days later and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It turned out to be quite different from the movie I was expecting to watch and I found the message behind it very meaningful.

Netflix introduced this movie as “a mix between Cruel Intentions and Mean Girls with a nod to Hitchcock” and I think this description perfectly fits the tone and mood of Do Revenge; the movie undoubtedly pays homage to iconic ’90s flicks (it reminded me of other movies I love from that era, such as Clueless, Heathers and Jawbreaker, and this is probably also because fashion plays a significant role in all of them).

Do Revenge belongs to the black comedy genre with a queer element in it. The story revolves around Drea, played by Camila Mendes, who is very powerful at her high school and is considered a it girl (do it girls still exist? I suggest you have a look at the video essay“Why Are There No It Girls Anymore?” by Jordan Theresa on YouTube. It probably explains why this movie is filled with ’90s nostalgia while addressing current issues as well). Things change for Drea when a private video of her gets leaked among the students and it sure looks like her boyfriend Max, who is also very popular, is responsible for it. Eleanor, played by Maya Hawke, is a new student who is rather shy and feels very uncomfortable with having to attend the same school as Clarissa, a girl who once bullied her during summer camp when they were thirteen. Drea and Eleanor form an unusual alliance/friendship, setting up a plan to take revenge on people who have mistreated them. This creates a series of unexpected twists and turns; also, there are many funny moments in the film that convey deeper themes, making the viewer wonder if revenge is really worth it after all. As the girls will find out, revenge most often comes at a price and can lead to bad consequences.

Image Credits: Netflix

Fashion is indeed a part of the movie as well, since it is a vehicle through which the characters express their various personalities. The costumes were designed by Alana Morshead, who took inspiration from iconic teen hits like Gossip Girl when creating a look for the characters. Since they are all attending Rosehill Country Day, a private school, she designed preppy pieces like capes and sweater vests in pastel tones, especially lilac and mint.


The Menu – Mark Mylod

Image Credits: Searchlight Pictures

“Over the next few hours, you will ingest fat, salt, sugar, protein, bacteria, fungi, various plants and animals. And at times, entire ecosystems.”

Last week I finally got to see what was probably my most anticipated movie of this fall. Watching it on the silver screen only added to what was a great viewing experience; the movie is a visual masterpiece and even though its tones and themes are reminiscent of some movies of the past, The Menu is unlike anything I have ever seen before.

The plot focuses on the characters of Tyler (played by Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (played by Anya Taylor-Joy, mostly known for Last Night in Soho and The Queen’s Gambit series, which I saw and recently reviewed on the blog). Tyler is passionate about food and haute cuisine and he’s happy to finally have the chance to dine at a prestigious restaurant located on a small Pacific island. The exclusive restaurant is run by kitchen guru Slowik (played by Ralph Fiennes in what is one of his best performances to date), along with his hard-working and efficient team, headed by the enigmatic Elsa (played by Hong Chau). Tyler and Margot arrive at the restaurant as a couple, along with other wealthy and privileged customers; they have no idea what the evening will turn out to be like, as Chef Slowik will unravel some shocking surprises along with his lavish menu.

Image Credits: Searchlight Pictures

This was one of the most unique movie-going experiences I have ever had in my life and so many moments in The Menu left me speechless. I also laughed multiple times throughout the movie because it could definitely be described as a dark comedy; there are some very funny scenes that are perfectly mixed with thriller and horror elements. The writing is superb and the characters are well-developed, which contributes to great performances by all the cast members. Different stories intertwine and reveal both the past of the characters and their personality traits.

The photography is absolutely amazing, especially the close-ups of the menu dishes; Peter Deming is an amazing director of photography who is known for his long-time collaboration with David Lynch (he was also director of photography in Mulholland Drive, one of my all-time favorite movies).

Image Credits: Searchlight Pictures

The Menu is a great satyrical movie that deals with many deep themes; it serves as a comment on capitalism and our society, focusing on the way we tend to obsess over prominent people who produce works of art, including food. It criticizes the idea of following trends no matter what and the majority of the scenes are really thought-provoking. The restaurant guests are all united by a sense of entitlement; for the wealthy, eating at a starred restaurant is just another way to spend their money and people who are already accustomed to luxury experiences will not be able to simply appreciate the act of eating, but instead they will turn it into a status symbol. These themes, along with the cult of personality, are deeply explored in OneTake’s video essay “What THE MENU Is Really About.”


Crazy Rich Asians – Jon M. Chu

Image Credits: Warner Bros.

“So your family is, like, rich?”

“We’re comfortable.”

“That is exactly what a super-rich person would say.”

Crazy Rich Asians is a movie based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 best-selling novel (I devoured the book in three days along with its two sequels and I highly recommend the whole trilogy, it’s so hilarious and it deals with important themes in a light-hearted way). The movie received much attention due to it being the first Hollywood blockbuster in 25 years to have an all-Asian and Asian-American cast.

It starts off with Chinese-American Rachel Chu going to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick to meet his family. This turns out to be a shocking experience for her, since she finds out that Nick is the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia; he is basically Singapore royalty. Being his girlfriend, Rachel becomes the target of jealous socialites and Nick’s relatives show hostility towards her from the start. Most of the criticism comes from Nick’s mother, Eleanor, who instantly disapproves of Rachel and tries to expose her inadequacy in any way possible.

The movie is unique in its genre, although in some respects it recalls previous Hollywood productions; the huge quantity of designer clothes and expensive items is reminiscent of Gossip Girl, a popular TV show about the lifestyle of rich Upper East Siders, and the grandeur of the party sets reminds the viewer of Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version of The Great Gatsby.