4/10 The 2nd best film of 2018, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” hailed from director Morgan Neville who returns here to direct this movie. Seeing as how great “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was, I was excited to not only watch this but learn about a man I knew little about. I never read “Kitchen Confidential” or watched either “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” nor “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” so I was fairly oblivious to his life’s story going into this. The movie ends up having lots of problems, the biggest one being that trying to fit a man’s life into a two-hour documentary is a complete fool’s errand. A mini or limited series would have been a much better idea than cramming everything into film format. They could have had each episode focus on a different aspect of his life. His origin, his career, his travel shows, his love life/family and his death. Instead, this unfocused movie jumps across all of these subjects but as soon as we get into one subject, it is quickly abandoned for another just as we get interested. For example, a section of the movie talks about his 2nd wife and his only child, a daughter. We see lots of cute video of her as a kid but then never see her after that and she is never interviewed for the movie, which would have been one of the best people to talk to about her father. Another big problem is that despite not knowing much about Bourdain, I actually found that I lost respect/liked him less by the time the movie had ended. Bourdain seemed like an extremely selfish man, abandoning his loved ones so he could get his travel fix. He seemed to never think about the long term consequences of his actions and only lived in the moment. Having a daughter when you know you will be gone 250 days of the year and not be around for her is selfish. Treating the crews of his shows disrespectfully and demanding things be done his way. His friend David Chang even speaks about Bourdain’s toxic masculinity during his “Kitchen Confidential” days in his latest memoir. Traveling to countless countries but doing little to no humanitarian work (if “raising awareness” to issues that people already know about is your greatest contribution, you aren’t doing enough). Only speaking on behalf of the #MeToo movement when his girlfriend became involved in it (the movie neglects to mention the ironic fact that Asia Argento paid $380K to her male accuser, Jimmy Bennett, who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was underage, making Argento technically a pedophile/predator herself). I kept waiting for the movie to show me what an amazing guy he was and those moments never came. Just because he had friends (what celebrity doesn’t?), got to travel the world for HIS show and was seeking knowledge and answers doesn’t make one a good person. I am probably the perfect man to review this movie since I have no preconceived notions about Bourdain. If I loved him, I would be more biased and want to blindly praise this movie and if I hated him I would want to blindly crap all over it. But coming in with a blank slate and leaving feeling like this wasn’t a great person, especially in the last year of his life, is a big red flag when he is the entire subject matter of the movie. This coming from CNN Films, the movie also includes some self-masturbatory CNN praise/references to itself, which is always cringe worthy (“Space Jam: A New Legacy” just became the worst offender when it comes to this cinematic sin). The only praise I can give the movie is that there are a lot of great, honest interviews with raw, emotional moments. As someone who has struggled with suicidal ideations myself, the last act of the movie talking about suicide was an extremely emotional experience to watch. The music was great and tied into the kinds of music Bourdain liked. The footage was carefully selected and even the use of Bourdain’s voice by way of deep fake didn’t bother me at all; in fact I enjoyed that aspect of the movie. Despite some accomplishments, I expect more from Neville and I hope the subject of his next documentary is a better person with a longer format to tell their story.

#SomeReservations / #HeartsUnknown / #BitchinConfidential / #AnthonyDisdain / #AsianInfluences / #FallOnChefEars

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