Both a biopic of a complicated man and an exploration of the gathering forces that converged to shape a new American cuisine and create the cult of "celebrity chef"... A consummate hedonist...
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California Typewriter is a story about people whose lives are connected by typewriters. The film is a meditation on creativity and technology featuring Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard, David McCullough and others.
Long careers are drawing to a close for John and Amanda, who teach Latin, English, and guitar at a stately home-turned-school, where they are legends with a mantra: "Reading. 'Rithmetic. Rock 'n' roll!" But leaving is the hardest lesson.
Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman's life dramatically changes for better and worse.
Both a biopic of a complicated man and an exploration of the gathering forces that converged to shape a new American cuisine and create the cult of "celebrity chef"... A consummate hedonist, Jeremiah Tower's career spans the riotous sexual revolution of the 70's to the high rolling "greed-is-good" spirit of the '80s. Key interviews with celebrities & celebrity chefs cement Tower's influence on today's food culture and reveal how he transformed the restaurant industry and in the process changed the way we eat.
The original celebrity chef, Jeremiah Tower is finally introduced via film to receive his due. Thanks to a biased push courtesy of present foodie king Anthony Bourdain (producing this doc and offering visceral cameos), "The Last Magnificent" is a bit of confusing celluloid.
It's all a very juicy story: the lonely rich boy, left to his own devices, becomes a revolutionary chef after his career in designing underwater housing is derailed. And that's just a mere sip of the nectar. Our chef is indeed a towering figure, transforming the culinary world with American Cuisine, and inventing the celebrity cook persona which he was born to berth and star in. Chez Panisse, Stars, Tavern on the Green: this is the glory trifecta of eateries, and Tower ran them all.
Food aside, there's much more to the delicious history here, which, unfortunately is handled clumsily at times. A stormy, love/hate relationship with Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters is touched on but left dangling, while footage of Tower wandering in sandals among Mayan ruins is used as contemplative segues.
His sudden retreat and decade long hibernation from the restaurant world, is never truly explained. As much as this film is chock full of glorious revelations, it is missing large pieces of the Tower puzzle. A pompous, arrogant, entitled, talented character who elicits both disdain and admiration with alarming frequency, the mythical Jonathan Tower remains a true enigma, and quite possibly, the next reality television star.
Intriguing, charming, exotic, insufferable and frustrating; Tower and film both.
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