Jan Wahl Movie Review: ‘Life Itself’ & ‘Le Chef’
You can hear KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl’s movie reviews on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM Fridays at 8:53am & 4:53pm.
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl reviews a pair of new movies this week. First is “Life Itself,” which documents the life of the late film critic and writer Roger Ebert. Also reviewed is “Le Chef,” a French comedy with a culinary backdrop starring Jean Reno.
LIFE ITSELF (R) 115 min
He changed the way many of us looked at movies. He was intense, eccentric and the only thing he loved more than film was life itself—that’s the title of this documentary about the life and times of Roger Ebert. Based on his best-selling and eponymously titled memoir, it begins in his early years where we travel with Ebert through the rough-and-tumble world of newspapers—including its hard living, hard drinking characters, his Pulitzer Prize winning film criticism and his explosive relationship with fellow film critic Gene Siskel.
Eventually Roger falls in love; his hard edges begin to melt away as he loves his wife but also a he begins to fight cancer. I had done his national TV show years earlier a few years back, I was with him at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. His determination to communicate through his cancer battle was brave and truly remarkable. Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog and Errol Morris all show up for Steve James’s documentary.
This is Roger, a difficult and complicated man, who changed the world of the movie audience.
LE CHEF (PG-13) 84 min
Movies costarring food can be sexy like “Tom Jones” (1963) or “Like Water for Chocolate” (1992), touching as “Babette’s Feast” (1987) oras fun as “Big Night” (1996), “Ratatouille” (2007) or “Chef” (20014). In “Le Chef,” we meet a young French chef who has the talent for creating amazing food as well as the inability to keep a job. Meanwhile, a famous celebrity chef is in danger of losing his beloved restaurant.
But fate brings the two together and each helps the other as they face the challenges of a career in fine food. The younger chef is well portrayed by French comedian Michaël Youn, but it is the charismatic Jean Reno (“Léon: The Professional” and “The DiVinci Code”) who makes the film delicious. He let’s us see his character’s ego as well as his desperation to survive in a changing food world.
It’s not great, but it’s certainly good for a time out at the movies and a lovely visit to France.