Friday, December 08, 2023
Friday, December 8 | 6:00 pm
Saturday, December 9 | 2:00 pm | 6:15 pm
Sunday, December 10 | 1:00 pm | 5:15 pm
Director Frederick Wiseman, Documentary, USA, French w/ English subtitles, 2023, 240 min.
IF YOU HAD A FINE THANKSGIVING WAIT UNTIL YOU PARTAKE OF THIS REPAST……
The MENUS-PLAISIRS is a film about the Troisgros family and their three restaurants, Troisgros, Le Central and Colline, located in three neighboring locations in central France. Troisgros, a restaurant founded 93 years ago, has had three Michelin stars for 55 years and in 2020 was awarded a Michelin green star for exemplary sustainable practices. Much of the film takes place at Troisgros. The present chef, Cesar Troisgros, is the fourth generation of the family to be in charge at Troisgros. The film shows the day-to-day operations involving the purchase, preparation and service at this restaurant. Scenes in the film also include purchasing fresh vegetables at the market, visits to a cheese processing plant, a vineyard, a cattle ranch working on best farming practices, and an organic farmer whose farm, along with the garden of the restaurant, provides organic produce for the restaurants. The Troisgros family’s interest in biodiversity is illustrated in their choice and preparation of their distinctive menu and their efforts to reduce food waste. The film shows the great artistry ingenuity, imagination, and hard work of the restaurant staff in creating, preparing, and presenting meals of the highest quality. Additionally, the collaboration within the Troisgros family is evident as the father, Michel, transfers the leadership in the kitchen to his son, Cesar and collaborates with his wife, who runs the hotel and his other son who runs La Colline.
Ninety-three-year-old documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has taken his camera from a correctional institution in “Titicut Follies” to East Bay university halls in “At Berkeley” and the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris in “La Danse.” Now, with his latest (and four-hour) nonfiction foray, he takes his camera inside a three-star Michelin restaurant in rural France for “Menus Plaisirs — Les Troisgrois.” The epic documentary portrait world premiered at the Venice Film Festival before heading to NYFF and will open theatrically next month.
Wiseman’s 44th doc takes us to Central France and Troisgros, which has been owned and operated by the same family for four generations. Troisgros has been a destination for global gastronomes for decades, and it’s here that a passionate family of head chefs (father Michel and his two sons, César and Léo) take us on a sprawling tour of the menu’s ingredients, textures, colors, and flavors. We observe the culinary trio with their waitstaff, taking visits to produce farms and vineyards, and even as they head into an enormous “cheese cave” in pursuit of haute cuisine on the level of performance art. Wiseman patiently observes waitstaff meetings and other goings-on behind the scenes in his trademark observational style.
Wiseman’s last film wasn’t a documentary but in fact the fiction feature “A Couple,” about the wife of Leo Tolstoy. His previous documentary was 2020’s “City Hall,” a kaleidoscopic look at the municipal government in his hometown of Boston. He received an honorary Academy Award in 2016. Of his generous output, he told IndieWire last year, “I’m old. The fact that I can still work is great. It keeps my mind off the Grim Reaper. I have no desire to stop working. On the contrary: I hope to work even more.”