Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Bon Appetit: ‘The Dinner’ challenges the taste buds

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | May 17th, 2017

Immediately following the dizzy, frightening, ambiguous, disorienting final scene of Oren Moverman’s “The Dinner,” which ends with a character saying “I love you” and a cut to black, the credits roll while Savages’ “F*ckers” nails the prevailing mood on the soundtrack.

Jehnny Beth sings, “Don’t let the f*ckers get you down, don’t let them wonder why you frown,” as the audience stumbles into the light, hopefully to do a good deed or maybe take a shower. The song perfectly complements the movie’s satirical portrait of topics ranging from white privilege to sibling rivalry to mental illness to the sometimes grotesque blind spots of parents for the sins of their children.

“The Dinner” was at one point planned as Cate Blanchett’s directorial debut. Based on the novel by Herman Koch (which has already been filmed twice), Moverman adapted the screenplay and ended up at the helm. He enlists a talented ensemble to explore the morals and ethics swirling around the aftermath of a horrific crime: do the wealthy and powerful parents of teenage boys responsible for a ghastly homicide conceal it or face the consequences and pursue a path of transparency and answerability?

The grown-ups, such as they are, include brothers Paul (Steve Coogan) and Stan (Richard Gere), Paul’s wife Claire (Laura Linney), and Stan’s wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall). Paul, a onetime high school teacher of history whose debilitating emotional struggles appear to be compounded by Stan’s successful political career, will take center stage as the group meets at a chic and expensive restaurant to strategize. Stan, a congressman running for governor, surprisingly emerges as the voice of reason and honesty, an irony not lost on many viewers (and Moverman himself) quick to draw parallels between the timing of the film and the blatant dishonesty and chicanery of the Trump administration.

Moverman gets away from the restaurant in a series of flashbacks. In one, Paul and Stan argue and clash in and around the Gettysburg National Military Park, and the director draws on Stephen Lang-narrated audio excerpts and eerily shot imagery that subjectively intensify Paul’s rapid deterioration. Paul’s poisonous classroom monologues, also on the topic of the Civil War, are less effective. Some have read the Gettysburg interlude as a rather broad metaphor framing fraternal discord, but “The Dinner” also hints at the legacy of slavery in America. Unfortunately, the racist insults inflicted on Stan’s adopted son Beau (Miles J. Harvey) by members of his own family are not deeply investigated.

The mysterious conclusion of the film indicates a deliberate open-endedness meant to provoke thought, but the most damaging flaw of “The Dinner” resides in the enigmatic portrayal of the male cousins before, during, and after the murder. The boys remain unknowable, unreachable, and, in the case of Paul and Claire’s son Michael (Charlie Plummer), frighteningly immoral. Claire’s unwavering support of her boy is more chilling as a result, and Linney -- as usual -- is tremendous.

Each member of the principal cast feasts on juicy moments, and supporting work by the reliably excellent Adepero Oduye as Stan’s aide and Michael Chernus as the restaurant’s lead staffer, elevates the bleakly comedic aspects of the story. The latter’s hilarious running commentary on the farm-to-table/French cuisine mash-up menu items fully exploits the decadence of the rich. When presenting a cheese course, Chernus brags about the previously FDA-quarantined Mimolette, crowing, “But we have it for you tonight.”

Recently in:

FARGO – A Somali-American discovered animal feces spread inside his vehicle Monday evening, an incident many believe was a direct threat and a hate crime.Yusuf Mohamed’s car was locked at Maplewood Apartments, 1010 23rd Street,…

It’s pretty easy to tell that Fargo is proud of its Norse heritage. After all, North Dakota is one of the most Norwegian places in the Midwest. Reminders are everywhere, like Stabo in the West Acres Mall or the Sons of Norway.…

Thursday, September 21, 6:30-8:30pmLutheran Social Services, 3911 20th Ave S, FargoDocumentary: the insurmountable challenges facing refugees; an intimate glimpse into daily life at Dadaab camp in Kenya, the largest refugee camp in…

The Little Newspaper That Could turned 24 last week. Although it was without much fanfare, it’s an accomplishment that is without compare in Fargo over the past many decades. We are proud to say the least.HPR is the people’s…

The four horses of the Apocalypse are running wild on the American plainsIn the last book of the New Testament, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride around the world on their red, white, black, and pale horses representing…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

Brand new and satisfying in so many waysI ventured into Tru Blu on Sunday at noon. As soon as I entered I was immediately astonished by the interior. It’s gorgeous! The brown tufted booths and dark wood give the impression that…

Minneapolis-based rock and rollers are turning up the heat, that is to say Lutheran Heat. The band consists of Garth Blomberg on guitar and vocals; Sara Pette, guitar and vocals; Matt Engelstad, bass and vocals; and Justin Nelles…

Cinema

​Controversial epic now on Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs

With 2017 so far one of the lowest summers for movie attendance this century, the year 1946 was perhaps the all-time peak year of movie attendance, with close to 60% of Americans providing 90 million individual ticket sales,…

Enantiodromia: noun; a principle that states any force will inevitably produce its opposite. After stumbling upon this term in a book about psychoanalyst Carl Jung, artist Ben Rheault discovered the theme for his upcoming exhibit…

‘Heathers’ hits the Empire stage in Grand ForksBefore the pink-clad Plastics or Cher’s group of popular beauties in “Clueless,” the shoulder pad-wearing, croquet mallet-wielding Heathers ruled the halls of Westerberg High…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Birthdays are always cause for celebration but when your business is beer and it comes time to celebrate another year of bringing delicious, locally crafted brews to your market you better throw a helluva PARTY! Drekkerfest 3 is…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

William Prentice, the slickster CEO of Meridian Energy, which wants to build an oil refinery 2 ½ miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, blew a bunch of smoke up the ass of a young reporter for The Dickinson Press the other…