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Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

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Lydia Tenaglia’s alternately dreamy and gossipy documentary about celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower is heavy on the “celebrity” and frustratingly short on the “chef.” Yes, it’s probably worth knowing that his hard-partying, world-traveling, deeply neglectful parents left him alone for extended periods, such that he spent a lot of time in restaurants on luxury liners and in fancy hotels, making friends with food and building imaginary worlds from menus. But only if we get a proper sense of how that friendship and imagination actually played out in the kitchen and on the plate — first with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, then in his own place at the scene-heavy Stars, and finally, at the comeback-minded Tavern on the Green. As it is, even the personal stuff is heavy on dramatics and light on detail. What did he say in print about Alice Waters after their break? What really killed Stars? What was in those reviews of Tavern on the Green? Never mind — let’s cut back to The Last Magnificent as he strolls through ancient ruins, goes scuba diving, and intones gnomic bits like, “I have to stay away from human beings, because somehow, I am not one." Well okay, then. (2016) — Matthew Lickona

Rated R | 2 hours
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