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Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021)Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021)

How do you make an honest film about a celebrity chef who took his own life? That was the challenge for director Morgan Neville. I watched this documentary immediately after reading Anthony Bourdain's memoir Kitchen Confidential (2000) that catapulted him to fame and jump started his television career as a globe trotting food guru. There's an endless supply of archival footage of Bourdain that allows Neville to let Bourdain tell much of his own story. The talking heads include the chefs David Chang and Eric Ripert, his former wife Ottavia Busia, his brother, friends, and the production crew from his show Parts Unknown. I thought the movie was both candid and compassionate. Bourdain comes across as an immensely talented and deeply restless person who was impossible not to like — tall (6' 4"), handsome, witty, and gregarious, he was also shy, thoughtful, a control freak, antisocial, and a former drug addict. He was the quintessential searcher who reminded me of the Johnny Cash-U2 song The Wanderer. On the last page of Kitchen Confidential Bourdain admits that it's telling that he was most relaxed when he was all alone in an airport smoking lounge with a drink and a cigarette, jetting from one marvelous destination to another: "I'm free, as it were, of the complications of normal human entanglements, untormented by the beauty, complexity and challenge of a big, magnificent and often painful world." And then the last sentence of the book: "Human behavior remains a mystery to me." I watched this film on Amazon Prime. 

Dan Clendenin:

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