Chefs are the voice artists in Peter Stricklands’ cute weird world Gourmet Fluxa delightful, sometimes sloppy metafilm about art, cooking and peristaltic twists.
Prior to his accomplishments as a director, Peter Strickland was active as a performer in the Sonic Catering Band, a performance group that prepares food live on stage and uses the sounds of cooking as key elements for a musical performance.
to Gourmet Flux He puts those experiences as an artist chef into his own bizarre cinematic world. Somewhere between Jean-Pierre Jonets and Marc Caro appetite (1991) and David Cronenbergs Cosmopolis (2012) turned it into a wonderfully uncomfortable film about the enjoyment of gastronomy and body discomfort.
Makis Papadimitrou (one of the best actors in modern Greek cinema) plays Stones, an author reporting on a new art residency at the British mansion of the Sonic Catering Institute. The selection operates on the kind of performances Strickland used to perform himself: intense noise shows with gastronomic sounds as the only entrance.
Focusing on all that food turns out to be torture for the Stones, because the glorified journalist secretly struggles with flatulence. He could no longer trust the peristaltic movements in his body to be in the world Gourmet Flux Equivalent to an existential crisis.
“Let food be your medicine,” quotes the Institute’s Hippocratic physician as he examines Stones’ intestinal problems. This is exactly the idea Strickland is playing with. This is a movie about people suffering from mental and physical illnesses, and gastronomy is their attempt at healing and salvation.
It’s not hard to see the role of food here as a metaphor for art in general. After all, the institute is a breeding ground for vocal and food arts to combat the malaise of the outside world. The fiercest scenes are those between a rudderless art group, who cannot come up with their own name, and the director of the Sonic Catering Institute, who, because she supports them financially, also wants to influence the artistic content. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Strickland here gives a metaphorical jab at all the film boxes, editors, and playwrights who’ve ever tried to flatten his wayward work.
Gourmet Flux Perhaps it lacks the magical sense of Strickland’s better films Duke of Burgundy (2014) and in the fabric (2018), but you get the impression Strickland had to make this movie to frame his artistic background in a cinematic setting. This frame, as always with Strickland, is magical, with color shots from cinematographer Tim Sidell and a great soundtrack from Strickland’s Sonic Catering Band. It just goes to show that a smaller movie by an important maker can also be a major cinema.
“Infuriatingly humble travel fanatic. Passionate social media practitioner. Amateur writer. Wannabe problem solver. General food specialist.”