El Bulli: Cooking In Progress is a 108-minute film documenting the dissection and study of food at the lab of Ferran Adrià's revolutionary Spanish restaurant. El Bulli, considered by many to be the greatest restaurant in the world, closed its doors this past year -- but the painstaking research continues, and is put to video by Germany director Gereon Wetzel.
It is obvious from the very (slow) beginning of the film that Wetzel is no Scorcese or Ken Burns or even Jacob Katel, who showed more flair with the camera in his Behind the Line shots for Short Order. Then again, the dry, quiet cinematic approach does fit in stylistically with the dry, quiet action in the lab. Dialogue is in Catalan, with English subtitles.
If you are a food nerd, you will greatly enjoy this film. Are you are curious as to whether yuzu would go well with fennel? Have you ever wondered what the natural jelly of kaki tastes like? Does a suggestion to blanch a sweet potato before juicing it in order that it taste like sweet potato instead of starch capture your interest? Does a shopping list that begins with "Calf's throat and shoulder, raspberries, carrots, zucchini..." prick your imagination?
If the answer is yes, you are a food nerd. More seriously, though, El Bulli: Cooking In Progress will appeal to anyone who enjoys the art and science of cooking, as well as those with interests in art and science in general; Adrià is, after all, either an artistic scientist or scientific artist.
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(Spoiler alert: Best line in the movie, I thought, was when two of Adrià's lab chefs go shopping in a market with the need to purchase very small amounts of ingredients for single testings. When one of the young guys asks the clerk for "five grapes" she responds: "Are you feeling the crisis?").
O Cinema is showing El Bulli tonight at 10 p.m;. Saturday at 7:45 and 10 p.m.; and Sunday at 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. Admission is $10.50; for students and seniors $9; and for members $7.50. All tickets are available at the door, but general admission tickets can also be purchased online.