Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garlic Is As Good As 10 Mothers

“Long live the living!” Those words, spoken by a dead pig destined for the spit, sum up best the verve of Les Blank’s documentary Garlic is as Good as 10 Mothers: in this gourmand’s paradise, even the food can’t wait to be eaten. Blank’s offbeat ode to the stinking rose treats garlic as the nexus of all life’s pleasures, and for proof he turns to a parade of garlic-loving musicians, dancers, cooks, writers and flat-out nutjobs. One man, for instance, argues it is garlic’s flavourful nature that repulses vampires, who drain the energy from life through sheer blandness; his favourite example of a likely blood-sucking agent of the damned is a historical figure who was reputed to eat plain boiled rice seasoned only with dew. Documentaries about colourful obsessives are a genre unto itself at this point, but Blank, whose technique is as eccentric as his subject matter, never looks down at anyone. His gregarious approach to filmmaking even ropes in random schoolyard children and a befuddled Werner Herzog, who patiently discusses the absence of garlic in his version of Nosferatu before staring into the camera and wondering, “Why are you asking me this?” The unspoken answer, and presumably what Blank also said to himself when contemplating whether to include the scene: well, why not? Life’s a feast, and this is hardcore food porn.

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