Friday, December 30, 2022

"Chef's Table: Pizza (Episode 2)": no

I'm not going to review the rest of the episodes for "Chef's Table: Pizza" because I now know they're wildly inconsistent in quality. I got lucky with Episode 1, but when I started watching Episode 2, I had to turn it off after five minutes. While Episode 1 had Chris Bianco doing some posed shots (e.g., looking pensively off into the distance), Episode 2, which focuses on Italian chef Gabriele Bonci, had Bonci acting. This wasn't just "stare into the distance" stuff that any non-actor could do: this was "look as if you're on the edge of madness" nonsense, with Bonci staring intensely at his own reflection in a mirror and other pretentious nonsense. Maybe I was wrong about how the various episodes in the series would all somehow be reflective of creator David Gelb's vision. The direction in Episode 2 was—as I saw within five minutes—radically different from what had come before, and to me, it was a severe drop in quality.

I don't want to write the whole series off based on a bad five minutes, though. I might skip Episode 2 and move on to Episode 3. If the other episodes prove to be okay, I could possibly come back to Episode 2 and fight my way through it. What turned me off was that using Bonci in this way (and I have to assume that Bonci allowed himself to be used) went against the spirit of documentaries in general. Shouldn't documentaries be more slice-of-life in style and technique? Again, with Chris Bianco, the filmmakers did do some posed shots of him, something to anchor the voiceover narration, but they didn't try to make him into an actor. Bonci, by contrast, was so obviously directed that my Bombast-O-Meter was screaming.

So, yes, I was revolted by how Episode 2 began, and I couldn't get past it. It was a pretty visceral reaction, too—a bit like biting into a long-anticipated pizza and discovering that it tastes like shit. Would you continue to eat a shit pizza after that first bite, in the vain hope that the pizza might start to taste better? Mentally speaking, that's about where I am right now. I'll watch the other episodes first, then maybe come back to 2.

Fingers crossed.


Charles said...

The Bonci episode was indeed probably the most grating, but I think it was playing off of Bonci's celebrity, and perhaps wry commentary on how he was forced to play a character that gradually grew to be farther and farther from his true self. It is a bit over-the-top, but I think it is worth watching.

I mean, to be honest, the whole series is all rather pretentious, in my opinion. It bothered me more at some times than others.

Kevin Kim said...

Okay, I'll give the episode a chance after I watch the others first. Maybe Episode 2 needs more context to justify itself.

Charles said...

It's possible. Although if you still don't like it, I will definitely understand. E2 was my least favorite episode of the series as well.