I usually review more mainstream films but after reading a Roger Ebert piece on rice cookers I had to watch this student short film. It is strange and funny. It looked like a lot of fun to make too. It starts with devotees paying obeisance to a rice cooker and quickly moves into the action: a student is smitten by a girl named Ivy and is summarily rejected. In his dreams that night a spirit or goddess of some sort advises him that he is not enough of a man to win Ivy’s heart. To become more of a man he must find the legendary rice cooker (we’re not quite sure what makes it legendary — is it the best rice cooker or the oldest or what?), and so our hero sets off on his quest meeting mythical rabbits and other otherworldly beings along the way. After coming into contact with the rice cooker in a student locker and eating some rice the girls start ooh-ing and aah-ing at him as he eats in the cafeteria. Apparently the rice cooker has somehow bestowed the required manliness!
The film is great for a student movie with its liberal use of stop-motion, a little animation, and appropriate use of music. It is very disjointed, but, hey… it is a student movie.
The short did get me curious about rice cookers featured in other movies. I’m sure they are part of the set, especially in Asian movies, but there’s never (unsurprisingly) been one to play such a central role before, at least as far as I could tell in my research. There is another amateur youtube short where an Asian — not surprising since south-east Asia is the part of the world that sees the greatest rice cooker use — man tussles with and eventually gets devoured by a demon-possessed rice cooker. It is produced by a film club and features stop motion and some valiant attempts at visual effects. You can watch it here.
Not having found much about rice cookers I set off to find what I could about the more edgy (they do have a reputation for exploding) pressure cookers in film. There’s not a lot about them either. There are plenty of youtube clips about the dangers of pressure cookers exploding however, and there is a highly-rated professional documentary called “Pressure Cooker”. It takes place in a school where a compassionate but fierce teacher teaches her working class and underprivileged students the culinary arts boot camp style. Apparently many of the students receive scholarships to prestigious schools, a testament to the teacher’s blunt but kind approach. Sounds like a must-watch even though it is not clear whether there are any actual pressure cookers in the movie.
From time to time I find it interesting to research how a specific object or idea is featured in film. You never know where it will take you or what you will find out. In the case of rice cookers I found out Ebert was a great fan of them and came across a couple of fun amateur productions featuring them. It’s great explore unknown online territories from time to time.