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What's Cooking (Sous-titres français) [Import]

Joan Chen , Julianna Margulies , Gurinder Chadha    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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At first glance, What's Cooking? looks like it was dreamed up by some politically correct screenwriting committee: a series of overlapping stories that intercut among four families (one Hispanic, one Vietnamese, one African American, one Jewish) all preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. But what could be toothless and smarmy is made gripping and genuinely affecting by a mixture of observant writing, fluid direction, and a truly superb ensemble of actors, including Mercedes Ruehl, Alfre Woodard, Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Kyra Sedgewick, Dennis Haysbert, and a host of less well known but just as capable others. The script is a marvel of orchestration: small annoyances blossom into fierce conflicts, secrets are deftly revealed, and sanctimoniousness is subtly punctured. The acute but sympathetic portrait of family stress and tension is layered with quiet observations about race and class, as well as the capacity for tolerance and forgiveness. It's recently become a cliché to have characters express themselves through food (examples include Soul Food, Big Night, and Eat Drink Man Woman), but What's Cooking? turns food into a witty exploration of culture as everyone prepares their turkeys in entertainingly different ways--this is not a movie to watch on an empty stomach. Warm without false sentiment, What's Cooking? is deeply enjoyable. --Bret Fetzer

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Thanksgiving Day May 31 2004
Format:DVD
This movie was great. It shows a typical thanksgiving day in four different households. It goes without saying, there are
problems in every family. If you are expecting A WALTON MOUNTAIN THANKSGIVING or even THANKSGIVING WITH THE CLEAVERS, I'm sorry this is real.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite and spicy banquet for the soul Jan. 13 2004
Format:DVD
Food and its preparation is one of the things that define us, our culture and how we come together with our families.
Writer/Director Gurinder Chadha (who will later write and direct Bend it like Beckham) brings us her first "american" film: an exquisite, sweet and even sexy (while brutally honest) look at contemporary family dynamics in present-day L.A, using food (and surprisingly enough, surfer music) as the thread to sew together the trials and tribulations of four "ethnic" families during a Thanksgiving day.
But "What's cooking" is more than "just" a food movie, or a Thanksgiving movie. Through an amazing ensemble cast (including Academy Award winner Mercedes Ruehl), ingenous cinematography, smart direction and an outstanding script, Director Chadra makes us feel the joys and pains of these characters.
The story itself is simple: follow the lives of four West L.A. families (Latino, Vietnamese, Black and Jewish) through a Thanksgiving Day. But immediately we get drawn into very powerful statements about love, family, community, divorce, diversity, racism, politics, tolerance and violence. We identify with these characters because we can all relate to their problems, and their family interactions.
I highly recommend this film because it is beautifully and skillfully done, and because of the great actor performances, particularly the female leads. Alfre Woodard is exquisite and brutally believable as the wife trying to keep her family together. Joan Chen, Lainie Kazan and of course Mercedes Ruehl all give extraordinary performances as the matriarchs of these families. Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick are a joy to watch as a lesbian couple. Dennis Haysbert ("24", Far From Heaven) is fabulous also.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fun film about four families Sept. 25 2003
By audrey
Format:DVD
This is a fun premise -- spending the Thanksgiving holiday with four very different LA families -- that is executed very well, with capable direction and a fine cast. Children are coming home and families are setting extra places as friends and members of these families -- one Asian, one Hispanic, one Jewish and one African-American -- get together and face various real-life issues such as parent-child disagreements, meeting the SO's parents, in-laws, adultery, etc. The movie could have been riddled with cliches, but a decent script and excellent cast -- including Mercedes Ruehl, Alfre Woodard, Lanie Kazan, Dennis Haysbert and Joan Chen -- make this an entertaining film that is part drama but mostly comedy. Don't watch this while you're dieting, though, as there are many scenes of the wonderful dinners being prepared.
DVD features include subtitles in English, French or Spanish; a commentary track with writer/director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Backham) and co-writer Paul Berges; interview segments with the director on the characters and on Thanksgiving, with Kyra Sedgwick on Julianna Margulies, with Mercedes Ruehl on the film's premise, with Dennis Haysbert on Los Angeles, with Joan Chen on food, and with Alfre Woodard on Chadha; and recipes for Vietnamese spring rolls, tamales, rustic (apple) pie, macaroni & cheese, noodle kugel and oyster-shiitake stuffing.
Definitely a worthwhile rental.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Melting Pot Sept. 3 2003
Format:DVD
Much like her 2003 hit movie "Bend It Like Beckham", Gurinder Chadha's "What's Cooking?" is infused with people who love one another very much, and so even though some tough issues are thrown their way, we know that, because of that love, they will get through life's obstacles ok.
"What's Cooking" centers around four families living on the same block in Los Angeles. They don't know each other, however, and instead, like most modern families, are focused on their own problems and worries. Chadha makes good use of "the American melting pot" idea, as one family is Italian, one is hispanic, one is black, and one is Asian. One of the most wonderful aspects of the movie is that, even though the people are of different ethnicities, they are portrayed respectfully as human beings. We can relate to each of them. They are different, but the same. Isn't that the underlying truth of us all? People are, indeed, people.
There are some nice performances here: Alfre Woodard is great as a stressed, neglected wife. Dennis Haysbert is quiet, cool and simmering as her husband. Mercedes Ruehl shines as the mother of the hispanic family, trying to move on with her life from an ex-husband that just won't understand that it's over between them. Kyra Sedgwick and Julianna Margulies are endearing as a lesbian couple on their first trip to meet the parents. Estelle Harris (of "Seinfeld" fame) is deliciously wicked as the aunt who just keeps pushing the issue. And, of course, there's Lainie Kazan -- always a treat.
I saw this film at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival in 2003, and it was very well-received. There are dramatic, serious moments, and then there are quite hilarious moments.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Ethnic Cliches, Stock Characters, Amateur Cast
The story is boring, plot-development uninteresting and slow, and the overdramatic cast, especially the younger ones that might benefit from a few years' worth of acting lessons,... Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by "blake-ryan"
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Movie
This is a great movie about families from different backgrounds having their Thanksgiving dinner together. Read more
Published on April 30 2002 by Jodiyo
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Simply one of the best movies I have ever seen. All the actors are great and the story lines intriguing.
Published on Feb. 19 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Fan-freakin-tastic!!
There are indie films,and then there are stay-with-you always amazing indie films. The cast is only the icing to a tale weaved so subtly the ending would blow you away (well, not... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2002 by "axegal"
1.0 out of 5 stars Thanksgiving and the Melting Pot ad nauseum
Sorry to say that I was not able to walk out of this film. It is
disturbing to find that people respond positively to a such an on-slaught of racial stereotypes. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2001 by rebecca z
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanksgiving Dinner
This is a story of 4 families as they sit down for Thanksgiving Dinner..There are secrets, affairs, and even a child thinkin about shooting someone.. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2001 by "kmartinklover"
4.0 out of 5 stars A great ensemble cast makes this a delicious feast...
Directed by Gurinder Chadha, this good ensemble piece centers on four Los Angeles families (in various stages of dysfunction) attempting to come together over Thanksgiving dinner. Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Jon Rydin
1.0 out of 5 stars an human being
This is the first movie I've ever watched which was bad enough to inspire me to write a negative review. This movie is disturbing, depressing, and socially harmful. Read more
Published on July 19 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars great
this movie is fanny, real, interesting, ect, bottom line is GREAT
Published on June 14 2001 by rosa a. garcia
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