Lisa Schwarzbaum tells us why she loves watching people eat and drink on screen
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Why our film critic loves watching people who eat on camera

In The Weather Man, Michael Caine and Nicolas Cage share a meal as father and son. And while Caine, with his big Wallace & Gromit choppers, attends to the morsels on his plate, I marvel, as I always do, at the magnificence of mastication in movies, a skill too often taken for granted by everyday diners.

I love to watch people eating and drinking on screen: Unlike the simulation of movie coupling, real chewing and swallowing goes on — a very sexy sight. Yet unlike amateur food-processing, on-camera eating is regularly altered to fit character. A sad wife might push little bits of food around on her plate, never lifting fork to mouth (does anyone dawdle poetically like that in real life?), while a seducer may be known by the way he or she lifts a wineglass and pauses, making eye contact, before the sip. (Lipstick never smears, spinach never sticks to teeth.) The small, determined, well-mannered bites of nourishment Caine takes off good china in The Weather Man — a throwaway bit of stage business from an old pro — speak mouthfuls.

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