Frederick Wiseman, 2023, 4 hours
In French with English Subtitles
Frederick Wiseman’s transporting documentary “Menus-Plaisirs — Les Troisgros” centers on a dynasty of French chefs who run a family-owned, Michelin-starred restaurant in Ouches, a pastoral region outside Lyon in central France that dates back to 1930. Michel, the current paterfamilias, now in his mid 60s, has been cooking his whole life, a calling that also feels like an expression of love. His father and uncle were pioneers of nouvelle cuisine.
Though 4 hours long, the movie is absorbing from start to finish. As is customary with Wiseman’s documentaries, Menus-Plaisirs doesn’t have music, voice-over narration, onscreen descriptive text, chapter titles or any other standard guideposts. The director instead uses images of specific physical spaces to establish a strong sense of place, grounding you in the world of the movie and then, face by face, shot by shot, scene by scene, steadily filling in its details. Wiseman’s focus on beautiful food that’s prepared and served with equal beauty makes this movie especially seductive.
This film is presented in a short film series on France’s gourmand tradition. Join us on February 21 for The Taste of Things (2023) by Tran Anh Hung(RSVP here) and on March 7 for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel (RSVP here).