Hi everyone, popping in this month with a quick column because I watched a movie I think a lot of artists need to see: The Menu, starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nicholas Hoult. Here’s the trailer:
Now, I’m not normally a horror movie person, & even though I think Anya Taylor-Joy makes a fantastic Magik and Nicholas Hoult a great War-Boy, I actually had zero interest in seeing this film. The trailer definitely says “Horror Thriller Movie Sending Up Foodie Culture” and while that’s good for a few laughs, it wasn’t until an artist friend said to me “This is one of the best films about being an artist I’ve seen in my life” that I got interested in seeing it.
Now look, I’m not here to give you spoilers, but as you can tell from the trailer, Ralph Fiennes plays a world famous chef who runs a hyper-exclusive restaurant on a private island that caters to the rich and/or culturally self-important. The attendees are clearly a bunch of Tech Bros, a washed-up actor & his assistant, a rich couple that has adultery problems, and a fanboy of the chef and his non-foodie fan date. And you know, chaos ensues.
What I didn’t expect was a movie that kicked up quite a few talking points on Creative Careers. Questions that The Menu entertains are:
—What do you lose when you achieve the pinnacle of success?
—Was the goal of being respected and famous worth what you sacrificed to get there?
—What is more important to success: the work, or the artist’s statement about the work?
—Can you make great art without an audience?
—Are professional critics just parasites?
—How creepy can superfans get?
—How dangerous is the cult of personality that grows up around successful artists?
—Is Art a Service Industry?
—What is more important: the beauty of the work or the feelings it evokes in the audience?
and many more!
So go watch it — it’s currently on HBO Max, but I think it’s available for rental on other streaming platforms.
For those of you who have seen it already, or folks that don’t care about spoilers, here’s some great video essays on The Menu:
Thank you – I watched the movie immediate after seeing the title of this blog post, and thoroughly enjoyed it (even inexplicably cried near the end ((you know the scene)) which probably says a lot about where I’m at as an artist). So thank you!!
I’m so glad it struck a chord with you. I teared up too!
It really was a great commentary, and one I empathize with a lot. Making your passion your vocation is one of the easiest ways to mess up your sense of self-worth.
It really was such a more heart wringing watch than I expected!
We’d passed on watching THE MENU until your post and finally saw it yesterday: you’re right! A clever and excellent commentary (and possibly an inspiration for Gordon Ramsay’s next show). There’s nobody like Ralf Fiennes. S’mores, anyone? 😉
HA. Shhh no spoilers Arnie!