OK, I probably think about food more than 99 per cent of the population, but some other things are sacred, and film is one of them.
The Odeon at Whiteleys shopping centre in London’s Queensway is opening a cinema called The Lounge that gives customers the option of ordering and eating a meal while watching a film. Critic Mark Lawson got it absolutely right when he branded the proposed mix of film and food “a noxious combination”. His concern is about smells and sounds of mastication and digestion. My objection is that when you team up a film and food, neither gets the attention they merit.
Much as it pains me ever to turn down food prepared by that most capable chef, Rowley Leigh of Le Café Anglais, if I’m going to eat Rowley’s food, I’ll be doing it in his restaurant, not in the dark, on my lap, while I’m watching a film.
His supposedly easy-to-eat, “remarkably tactile” dishes- hamburger royale (a fillet steak in a bun), red mullet risotto, deep fried squid and salsify fritters- do sound appealing, but the thought of eating them while watching a film is fundamentally uncivilised, dishonouring both the food and the cinematic experience.
I already find it deeply irritating to sit next to someone who’s rustling around in a mega-container of popcorn or slurping from a tub load of cola. And those multiplex nacho things really do stink. But the thing that really bugs me is that cinema munchers aren’t concentrating properly on the film, and so they’re interfering with my concentration too. The point being that film deserves focus. Lights off, no sound, full attention, no distractions. Give the director a break. Ditto good food, it ought to be centre stage also, enjoyed at a table, sitting down, not on the hoof, or lap, or desktop.
Perhaps I should take Mr Leigh out to watch Babette’s Feast, which makes my point, only more eloquently.
Originally published on Dec 6th 2011 on Joanna Blythman’s Blog