Eat or Be Eaten: The Menu Threatens the USA’s Views of Our Society’s Elite
Hungry for a deliciously dark and twisted comedy? Director Mark Mylod’s The Menu follows
a multifarious group of society’s extreme 1 percent as they venture to an exclusive restaurant on a private island. Along with the once-in-a-lifetime dining experience comes a hefty price tag—$1,250 per person to be exact.
The film opens with The Queen’s Gambit actress Anya Taylor Joy, who plays Margot, accompanying her pretentious and self-proclaimed food connoisseur boyfriend Tyler, played by Nicholas Hoult, as they are about to board the private boat to the prestigious private island where their dining experience will take place. Tyler and Margot are joined by 10 other guests, all of whom are pompous and grandiose in their own special way. The accompanying 10 guests include a washed-up movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero), an ostentatious food critic (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein), affluent regulars (Reed Birney and Judith Light), and, of course, the stereotypical finance bros looking to “ball out” (Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr, and Rob Yang). Waiting on the island is the mysterious yet world-renowned Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his team of rigid chefs.
As the night continues, we get a peek into why this restaurant is so special, besides the fact that it is located on a private island. Chef Slowik operates his kitchen like a small army, starting every meal with a thunderous clap followed by a booming “Yes Chef!” from the staff. His multi-course dinners escalate quickly from elegant to odd to frightening, leaving the viewer questioning whether this dinner is really what we think it is. When the guests become suspicious, wondering whether they should be terrified or flattered by the extremely personal details, the service remains army-like—suggesting that the staff has been through this ritual before.
Despite the confusion among guests that seems to transcend through the screen, the cinematography of The Menu remains dazzling yet bone chilling. Along with the visual aspects of the film, overlapping conversations throughout the dinner paired with a taunting and energetic score continuously shifts the perspective of the viewers.
Overall, the Mylod film will leave those who watch questioning what they think they know about the glitz and glamor of ultra-capitalism in America, and the inklings of comedy that seep into the cracks of the horror and gore is unlike any other horror film out today. In the end, The Menu takes the phrase “eat the rich” to a whole new level.
Stream The Menu on HBO Max.
Film Review: HBO’s The Fallout
Film Review: HBO’s The Fallout
The First Movie of Gen Z
Talia Rueda ’23
On Jan. 27, HBO released The Fallout, a film about the ways in which a community deals with the tragedy of a school shooting. Starring Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler, two Gen Z “it” girls, the movie represents the new era of filmmaking associated with this generation while also showcasing timeless themes.
The film seems to place great emphasis on artistry and cinematic elements rather than the actual context of them. In other words, the movie prioritizes moody lighting, an “artsy” film preset, and minuscule moments between its characters. Today, such cinematographic techniques are commonly used to focus on the aesthetic world of teenagers, as evident in projects such as HBO’s Euphoria. Although The Fallout seems to focus more on the beauty of its scenes rather than the unfolding story at hand, its message is far from simple.
In telling the story of the aftermath of a school shooting, director Megan Park brings a dark situation to light. The scenes encompass small moments of grief, as well as the many different roles that people can take on after such a traumatic event. This storytelling approach brings a great deal of realism to the film.
Notably, the movie takes its audience through the shooting in only its first few minutes. In this way, the focus is not placed on the actual shooting but rather on the ways in which it affects the school community. For instance, immediately after this traumatic event, viewers see the film’s characters at home, unsure of how they are supposed to act. Some sit in silence with their family at the dinner table; others immediately seek change and host marches to make sure this never happens again.
At first glance, main characters Mia (Ziegler) and Veda (Ortega) are very different from one another. Mia is a dance influencer who is always home alone because her dads are always traveling; Veda lives a much more typical teenage lifestyle, and initially finds herself idolizing Mia before the pair form a close relationship due to their shared trauma.
Through these characters, the film excels at realistically depicting teenage friendship. For instance, there are moments of awkward silence in Mia and Veda’s growing bond. They drink wine, swim in the hot tub, and FaceTime each other every night because they cannot sleep alone, but at times find that they do not know what to say to one another. The school shooting has certainly brought them together, but just as in most relationships, there are moments of discomfort. In the context of the film, these moments of silence suggest that despite the fact that their friendship is helping them heal, the pair must navigate certain elements of their trauma by themselves.
Altogether, The Fallout details many aspects of Gen Z life, not only by representing a common tragedy that has taken place in American schools in this generation’s formative years, but also by using camera operation and lighting styles that have become popular in young people’s favorite television shows, such as Euphoria and the rebooted version of Gossip Girl. Indeed, such idealistic cinematography not only encapsulates popular Gen Z trends, such as a love for film photos and retro ideals, but also presents the reality of this generation’s struggles unique to its own members.