Antonio Cayonne | Actor

Burnt. February 10th 2016

Antonio Cayonne

I haven't been using my blog a lot lately. It's not that I don't have time. I do. In starts and stops. I do. So it's not that. But I haven't been using it the way I did last year, I guess in part because I sometimes feel like it's all been said. And sometimes the horse is dead, and there's no need to kick it. That's not pessimism, just an honest assessment of my view of the truth. Then of course, other days, I want to talk so that I can let the thoughts escape. To create that release, that ksst sound that happens when you open a carbonated beverage. To shake the bottle up and then crack it and waste half of what's inside just to release the pressure. 

I watched Burnt tonight. Story of a Chef battling his own demons; coming face to face with his own self worth. I know this story. I think many of us do. This one resonates because I have for a long time lived in two worlds. I act and am a creative. I serve and work in hospitality. I'm not a chef and don't work in the kitchen. That said, there are demons in the business, and pressures, that are not foreign to me. Both businesses. Addiction and depression go hand in hand. Egos. Hurt. Self Hatred. Self Worth. Self-Esteem. Value. Relationships. Expectations. Pressure.

I thought I was going to hate Burnt. I'm growing tired of seeing the same faces take on worlds and live out lives that are so much more than they get portrayed as being and have so much more to offer than they get portrayed as having. I'm getting tired of not seeing myself, and my peers reflected back at me, and needing to be fattened up for the slaughter, spoon fed (sometimes) great stories by using a a big name actor, as though I may not get it otherwise. I'm tired of not getting credit as viewer and as participant. That said, I'm also tired of getting in my own way. Because oftentimes I look around, in both my industries, and I often am the only person that I'm asking to see reflected back at me. Chicken, meet Egg. Horse, meet Cart.  I digress. I got out of my way and watched Burnt. 

The things I didn't like about it were on the surface, waiting for me to get past them, as I must for most films if I want to be included in the 'Hollywood' experience. Beyond those things, I appreciated what felt like aspects of an honest portrayal of an addict. The Chef's addiction to validation in every form was palpable in his relationships, his 'wit', his arguments, his tantrums. A need to be the best. To be seen. To be told. To feel. To be felt. The voices in his darkness loomed large and lived out loud in most of the movie, and I appreciated someone giving them room to be heard. They ultimately made him likable, which is rarely the case. They ultimately allowed him to change - which I've seen happen...once. They ultimately made a movie that could sell, and I guess I can fault them for that but there's no need to. They don't care what I think.  I like actors, and I liked the actors. I love Bradley Cooper and I like him too in spite of wishing that I hadn't recognized a single face in the ensemble and could just live out the journey. I felt they all dug in and told an important story. 

A few weeks ago there was a high profile suicide in a kitchen. High profile being key in that it was a chef who got his third star. Who was himself a Star. He was perhaps the best in the world at the time. Perfection. That is rare air. 

Last year there was a high profile suicide behind the curtains of the film industry - and it wasn't the first one either. A star. Someone who changed lives.

In Burnt the Chef says he wants to make food that makes you stop eating. That's the goal in good art. To literally make you have to stop. Because something has changed. You've changed. It's a transformative experience. And to know that that's the goal, once achieved, to be repeated? That's a lot for any one person to handle. 

I don't know why I wanted to write after watching Burnt. Maybe it made me think, which means it was good art. Maybe parts of it were too close to home, and I felt jostled. Maybe I'm in the middle of Pilot season unsure of the very ground  beneath me.

I really don't know. It's ultimately a film about finding a way to let your demons ride in the backseat instead of shotgun, and being your own co-pilot even if that means you have a clown car of close friends rotating in and out to help you remember what you're worth, and that hits home with me. I'm out here without the clown car, a full back seat (and truck at that), and space for one, but I'm going it alone. Without a map. Or any truck stops. And I drank a few liters of water but don't have enough gas to both pull over AND still make my destination, and I'm hoping for a sign that says we're almost there even though there are no lights and I'm not sure I'd see the sign either way.   


I cracked the can and let it overflow. And re-reading makes me think, I understand why there's nothing new anymore. We get stuck and need a resolution, but don't know what it looks like. So we tell the same story again. Write the same blog again. Love the same person again. Live the same patterns again. And try to get closer to making it all make sense. 

It doesn't make sense. But it's not for lack of trying. 

The movie ends with an acceptance; with a win; with un raison d'etre. I guess that's it. I want to see that ending in life, before I see the end of life, because I see it in movies. But that's not how it works. Sometimes, most times, it just ends.