As a waiter for a catering company, I am not usually called upon to do anything too tricky. I don't have to balance several plates along my forearm and I don't have to memorise a table full of orders. On the whole, the service is relatively simple. Occasionally, however, a client will request French service for their event, which requires a little more effort. Last night, I worked on one such event.
French service is inefficient, inconvenient and wholly unnecessary. Instead of sensibly serving plates with the food already placed on them by a professional chef, French service begins by serving empty plates to the guests. Then, the waiter carries a bulky tray of food and, while awkwardly squeezing between the seated guests, serves them individually at the table. In order to achieve this, it is necessary for the waiter to twist the fingers of one hand around two oversized serving utensils in a sort of demented chopstick fashion and scoop the food directly onto the guest's plate. It's awkward and uncomfortable for both server and guest. Just ask the lady into whose lap I placed a lamb chop.
The final nominee to review from 1998's Best Picture list is...
Saving Private Ryan
Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti
5 wins, including Best Director
When three brothers in the same family are killed in action during World War II, the US Army decides to give a reprieve to the fourth brother in the family, Private James Ryan (Damon). But first they have to find him. Heading the mission to locate Ryan is Captain Miller (Hanks), fresh from helping to secure Omaha Beach on D-Day. To achieve his mission, he brings along a diverse mix of soldiers, including his second in command (Sizemore), three riflemen (Burns, Goldberg, Diesel), a sniper (Pepper), a medic (Ribisi) and a translator (Davies). As they close in on Ryan's location, they deal with other deadly skirmishes, causing them to question the rationale in risking all eight of their lives in order to save one.
After a brief prologue, Saving Private Ryan begins with some of the most riveting cinema available to experience. The D-Day scene plants the audience right in the thick of the action, and subjects it to a barrage of constant intensity that does not let up for at least twenty minutes. A genuine tour-de-force of filmmaking, all the elements are brought together to create a phenomenally gripping sequence. Historically replicated art direction, unrelenting cinematography, emphatic sound design, energetic editing and harrowing special effects. The result is simply mind-blowing.
The Thin Red Line was a rambling tale punctuated with poetry, Saving Private Ryan has a very clear story that the audience can get behind.
Tom Hanks offers a fine performance in a role which saw him nominated for Best Actor, the film's only acting citation. The motley band of soldiers are a great mix of young talented actors, a lot of whom were relative unknowns at the time - Burns, Pepper, Goldberg, Diesel, Ribisi, Davies, Damon. The underrated Tom Sizemore is terrific in a role that could be described as the sidekick. And Paul Giamatti is a treat, showing up in a small role.