“The Menu”: Tonight’s Special is a 10-Course Massacre

Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes face off as diner and chef in "The Menu".

“No, miss, I will not recite today’s specials in Voldemort’s voice.”

Speaking as someone who’s been in customer service for 34years and counting: when everything goes well, the symbiosis between a service team and their customer — whether a singular exchange or a recurring relationship — makes for a heartening occasion that both sides can appreciate. They pull off the quid pro quo between creator/provider and receiver/consumer, and everybody wins.

When things go wrong between the two parties, the results can be anywhere from mild disappointment to small-scale war. The customer gets full of themselves, or the employees show up in a foul mood, or there’s a miscommunication between the sides that could be resolved with some calm negotiation, yet isn’t. No one wins, everyone’s miserable, and it’s another round of cringing when they look back on That One Time years later.

The Menu falls in the latter column as an extreme worst-case scenario. An evening gone wrong becomes no mere comedy of errors, but an all-out class-war ambush where no one is innocent.

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Yes, There’s a Thing During “The Grand Budapest Hotel” End Credits

Grand Budapest Hotel!

Fans of the Ralph Fiennes catalog may be disappointed The Grand Budapest Hotel doesn’t invite obvious Voldemort jokes. I’m reminded more of The Avengers. No, not Marvel’s.

Representing for first-half-of-the-20th-century world history in this year’s Academy Awards race is The Grand Budapest Hotel, the most Wes Andersoniest Wes Anderson film ever to Wes Anderson a Wes Anderson. Granted, I’ve only seen four of his other films, and this one’s probably a patchwork homage to nineteen different foreign films I’ve never heard of, but if nothing else it sums up all his past trailers and adds nice costuming flourishes and some charming fake backdrops.

Fun meta-trivia: this entry began as the fifth installment in my ongoing “MCC Home Video Scorecard” series, which is where I’ve lately been clustering my impressions of movies seen not in theaters. This time, I lost control and Budapest crowded out the other three movies I’d planned to include here, so now it has an entry all to itself. I saw this as part of my annual Oscarquest, and so far it’s been the cheapest of this year’s contenders to watch. It took some persistence to catch this affordably, as it’s no longer on Redbox and we don’t subscribe to the correct premium-cable channel, but three visits to the Family Video down the street finally paid off in the form of a $1.00 DVD rental. If you’d rather avoid the thrill of the case or if you hate money, you can also spend $13-$16 through the usual instant-streaming outlets, or Amazon has hard copies on sale for ten bucks (DVD and Blu-ray) as of this writing. Depends on whether or not less substance is worth more money to you, I guess.

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #2: Costumes and Scares

42: the Jackie Robinson Story!

Chadwick Boseman: a black hero in a white genre.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we launched a new recurring feature that’s me jotting down capsule-sized notes about not-new movies I catch at home. In this batch of Stuff I Recently Watched: two recent horror DVDs that were given to me for free, just in time for Halloween; one Shakespearean adaptation with a most unusual costuming approach; and one period-piece/biopic featuring an actor whose biggest starring role yet was just announced earlier today with much delightful fanfare.

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