Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 94%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 1284

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August 05, 2021 at 12:50 PM



Joshua Homme as Self
John Lurie as Self
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1 hr 59 min
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English 5.1
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1 hr 59 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ferguson-6 7 / 10

something to chew on

Greetings again from the darkness. As the film begins, we understand there will be no happy ending. Anthony Bourdain committed suicide by hanging in 2018 at the age of 61. As it was reported, everyone was shocked. Oscar winning documentarian Morgan Neville (TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, 2013) interviews those who knew him best, and by the end of the film, we are left wondering why these folks were shocked at how his demise.

Bourdain ... called Tony by those who knew him ... spent most of the last 20 years of his life with a camera focused on him, so director Neville allows Bourdain to tell much of his own story. "I got very lucky" is how he explains turning a dishwasher job into the position of Chef at Brasserie Les Halles on Park Avenue in New York, and then evolving into an author, talk show guest, and host of TV travel and culinary shows.

Perhaps you read Bourdain's first book "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly", or maybe you know him from one of his four TV shows where he traveled around the globe eating strange food and exploring unusual cultures. Then again, to some, he'll always be known as the guy who was filmed eating a live cobra heart. All of those bits are discussed here, but the real interesting segments occur as others talk about the man they knew/loved/worked with.

Bourdain's second wife Ottavio, his brother, his friends, his agent, and his production crew are all interviewed here and are surprisingly forthcoming in their recollections and insight into Tony. We even see clips of Bourdain with his daughter, though she is not interviewed. The descriptions add up to a complicated guy. A natural storyteller who was a control freak and hard on those he worked with. Yet he was also charming, immensely intelligent and articulate, and eager to make satisfying TV. He also comes across a bit lost as a person most of the time, never more than when he's filmed asking Iggy Pop, "What thrills you?" There is even a segment with Tony in a session with his therapist.

The film, and Bourdain himself, don't shy away from his addictive nature. He admits to a drug problem when he was younger, and for the rest of his life he jumped from one non-drug related addiction to another. His personal life seemed to take a turn when he fell for Italian actress Asia Argento and he became an advocate for the #MeToo movement. His tragic end is discussed, and maybe those closest to him were simply too close to see what seems obvious to us now. Director Neville uses no shortage of archival footage and photos, but it's the personal interviews that strike the emotional chord here. Two films, APOCALYPSE NOW and VIOLENT CITY apparently had a dramatic impact on Bourdain, and though the end is tragic, his legacy as an adventurous storyteller lives on.

In theaters on July 16, 2021.

Reviewed by rannynm 8 / 10

A personal, honest - albeit loving - look at and into the life of Anthony Bourdain and all the various detours it took.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is a personal, honest-albeit loving-look at and into the life of Anthony Bourdain and all the various detours it took. This documentary charts his journey from chef to writer to acclaimed TV host, as told by his closest friends, the people he worked with, and his family.

After an opening credits sequence that runs through the years leading up to Bourdain's career as a chef, Roadrunner begins its sprint in 1999 after he's secured a deal to write a book about his experiences in the restaurant world, Kitchen Confidential, the New York Times bestseller that would put Bourdain on the talk show circuit, and kickstart his ascent towards celebrity. In preparation for writing his second memoir, A Chef's Tour, he was approached by TV producers who pitched an ongoing series in tandem with the upcoming book, thus forming a partnership that would spawn multiple shows, win several Emmys and begin Bourdain's long tenure on television screens and secure his status as a world-famous traveler.

This film is a challenge on many levels. For starters, Bourdain's suicide is still a recent event in the public eye, and, I'm certain, a fresh wound for those who knew him. It's difficult to watch a feature-length story of someone's whole life, knowing that it's going to end so inevitably, suddenly, and sadly; however, Roadrunner succeeds by showing us Bourdain in his totality which balances the sadness of his inevitable end. And yet, audiences may find it unavoidable to wonder who he really was, along with his loved ones striving to answer the question: Who was Anthony Bourdain off-screen?

Roadrunner mirrors Bourdain's own frequent departures from home and journeys to parts unknown, taking us back and forth from his television world and his home life with his daughter. We see a conversation between Bourdain and a friend, where they discuss the paradox of wanting to return home when they're away, but immediately wanting to get back on the road when they get home. This tragic conversation gets right to the heart of the movie's title, Roadrunner, and just how reflective it was of Bourdain's own everyday life.

After a TV episode goes awry, Bourdain talks about his faltering belief in the power of the table at which we eat and share, yet Roadrunner becomes a testament to that power. Nearly every interview in the film is organized across a table, where deeply personal details and anecdotes from those who knew Bourdain are exchanged. Director Neville operates with a wealth of outtakes from his TV shows and all the excess footage of Bourdain's 20 years on screen, but it's these genuine moments with Bourdain's tribe that cut the deepest.

I give Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults, for mild language and strong themes throughout. Roadrunner lands in theaters on July 16, 2021. Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST!

Reviewed by FelixisaJerk 10 / 10

Go see Roadrunner. You deserve it.

It's impossible for me to review this documentary without bias. Anthony Bourdain has inspired me more than anyone on this planet (filmmaker Kevin Smith is up there as well, but this isn't about him). When I was a child, I religiously (more cultishly if I am being honest) watched his shows, vicariously living through this skinny punk rock, foul mouthed, cigarette devouring force.

I saw the way he talked to people, all people and studied how he listened, how he asked questions, how he made sure people knew they were actually heard. Watched how language barriers were leapt over, cultural differences were celebrated and how food and drink were a catalyst for love, honesty and for a sense of community.

I grew up in poverty yet following Anthony, to all corners of the world and seeing real places with real history, meeting folks with real stories, who came from and lived in conditions that made my shabby duplex look like the Ritz Carlton. It was transformative. It was escapism yet absolutely grounded in the real world.

I'd read his books and be drawn to a truly unique voice. I'd fall under a spell driven by a deeply compulsive, page turning, "I can't put this down" frenzy. I'd never read stories more relatable yet fantastical, hilarious, sad, and positively sobering. Critically important, emotional lessons for the writer, filmmaker, chef, and person I knew I was destined to become.

I read Kitchen Confidential and got a job as a dishwasher that same summer, then once I had a bit of money I'd watch No Reservations or Parts Unknown and before I knew it I was on a plane to China, then Europe, then China again. I even tried to film my own, one man crew, travel show in Jiujiang. The results? Disastrous, but I am still proud of the attempt.

Roadrunner is exactly the film I hoped it would be. The film I needed it to be. It didn't show us some hidden side of Anthony. It didn't make him out to be anything he isn't. That is impossible. Bourdain showed us the realness from day one. No film, book, documentary, podcast, review- anything-can ever change that.

Director Morgan Neville caught my attention with his 2018 documentary about Fred Rogers (Won't You Be My Neighbor?). He just shows the footage, his questions aren't set up with some hidden agenda, he lets the subjects and cast speak for themselves. That's the exact brilliant documentary filmmaking Roadrunner is fueled by.

The best part of Anthony's inner circle? They all have so much to say. The powerful, beautiful, wondrous impact this man's life had on them yet the devastating, painful, frustrating crater-sized hole his death left in them.

Roadrunner covers that. It has to. But it largely celebrates Tony's life. I didn't cry during the film, I got a lump in my throat but was able to stay composed. The interviews and footage are dazzling and engaging. I was too fascinated to cry. Too eager to see more, I came prepared (with six neatly folded kleenex in my pocket) but refused to let my emotions distract me from my viewing experience-then the credits rolled. Left alone in my own head to process what I just saw. Emotion came over me like a crushing wave. I felt lucky to make it to the car, to sit there and let myself feel it.

And that, is good filmmaking.

Bourdain showed me the world, showed us the world with his incredible story telling, sharp wit, sarcasm and humor. He found a way to shrink the globe, while making every place he went to seem as vast and important as any other. It was delicious food, a sense of community and humor that linked the planet, nothing else matters. He showed it was possible and attainable to get there, just buy a ticket. Stop lying to yourself, stop talking about it, stop dreaming about it and just make it happen.

Go see Roadrunner. You deserve it.

Suicide is preventable, there are resources, there are outlets, there are ways to get better. Check in on your friends and family, make the effort. You never really know who will need it, you just might save a life.

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