This week my selection was based on two things. Magical Realism and Chocolate.

I like Magical Realism. There’s something really cool about a setting where the fantasy elements are so low key yet so ubiquitous that you’re hardly aware that they are there at all.

220px-LikewaterforchocolateThe first film I picked, Like Water For Chocolate by Alfonso Arau is based on the book of the same name, tells the story of the Tita of a young woman in Northern Mexico who as the youngest daughter in her very traditional family is fated to be the servant of her domineering mother spending her life working in the kitchen and creating magical recipes.

It’s a nice lyrical piece that makes for a nice introduction to magical realism from recipes that do everything from make a whole party sick to making one of her sisters so aroused she sets an outhouse on fire and runs away with a revolutionary, to the Tita mother returning as a ghost to haunt her as if it were the most natural thing in the world. On top of this many of the recipes, which are transcribed in the film and the novel, are described lovingly and sound wonderful. I certainly want to find out if the instructions for homemade matches actually work!

220px-Chocolat_sheetThe next film on my list Chocolat by Lasse Hallström is much more low key telling the story of a Vianne and her daughter Anouk who are forced to wander the land by the urging of the north wind. During the pauses in their travels they make extra special chocolate.

In their latest stop they arrive in an extremely straight-laced catholic town in France. Things are not made easier in that it is in the beginning of Lent, which leads them into conflict with the towns mayor the Comte de Reynaud. Despite of all this they gradually assimilate into the community. The rest of the film focuses on the changes they and their chocolates bring to the town for better or for worse. Along with some extra conflicts including a wife running away from her abusive husband, a sheltered boy reuniting with his grandmother and a group of gypsies. All of this is done wonderfully with little more fantasy other than the wind and the extra special chocolate.