Tuesday, April 8, 2008

BEET EATER BEWARE

Does the title intimidate you? Well, if you had the same background like me where being non-vegetarian is nothing to be apologetic about. Since, the time I have come to Dubai, I have me more pure vegetarian (not even lactogenarian) than my last 8 years in Delhi and 15 years in North Eastern Part of India.

I have seen and participated in slaughtering a cow and found it absolutely natural to find it cooked in my table. We as child would in fact wait Mom to make nth variety of dishes made out of Beef. Well, now i guess I am by hurting too many people's feelings. Let me tell you why I am rambling on unabashedly.

Fast Food Nation, another take by Richark Linklater to unknown territory, if you have watched any of the earlier films made by this master filmmaker; you will be simply amazed by his wide range of offerings from romance, to sci-fi animation, philosophical not to forget "school of rock".

The movie is based on Eric Schlosser's non-fiction exposé of the fast food industry, but it's less an adaptation than an illustration of Schlosser's ideas (Schlosser co-wrote the script with Linklater). Eschewing a documentary approach, Linklater dramatizes the issues in the book by playing up multiple narratives and sub-plots. We move from one character to another at uneven intervals, there are characters who appear just once, make their point and never return again.

The Hispanic characters of three, disillusioned school students working late nights at Mickey’s, and the fast food executive played by Greg Kinner. We follow their journey and all of them are connected together by the main theme of the film - meat packaging factory. The story of Mexican immigrants is very touching and infact if we consider the story of the school girl in context a larger political issue is also raised. Ultimately everyone in the film is contextualized as a victim by the capitalist culprit of America. Better Sales figure without any value to human life and lifeless cows hangs in the balance.

The film is marketed like a docu-drama and if definitely fits the bill and the pacing is remarkably slow than a fiction film and there is no attempt to dramatize the plot. The meat packaging factory is displayed upfront and ending scene of the kill floor is what can put off any meat eater for at least a week. I myself refrained from eating at least beef for more than a month. The imagery is so raw and the emotions displayed by the characters particularly the Mexican immigrants is unpretentious, if you make someone sit down halfway down the movie, they might just mistake this film to be a - documentary.

Well, the credit goes to the narrative and the way Linklater treated these issue or rather I should say issues, more than many.
My Rating: 7/10

Story Plot: The story touches on the lives of various individuals who interact with the fast food system at different stages of the chain. Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear) is the marketing expert at Mickey's fast food restaurant who has masterminded the "Big One" hamburger. When traces of fecal matter appear in burger meat, he travels to Cody, Colorado to investigate the meat packing plant where the Big Ones are processed. Conditions there are not good, as a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico learns. Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), Raul (Wilmer Valderrama), and Coco (Ana Claudia Talancon) arrive in Cody to work in the plant, but find circumstances to be less-than-ideal. Not only is it a dirty, gory business, but the effort is backbreaking and carelessness leads to life-threatening accidents. Meanwhile, in a local Mickey's joint, server Amber (Ashley Johnson) is having a crisis of conscience about whether to continue doing her job or quit and join a local group of eco-terrorists who want to strike a blow for the freedom of penned-up cattle.

Cast: Greg Kinnear, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Wilmer Valderrama, Ana Claudia Talancon, Ashley Johnson, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Arquette, Luis Guzman, Ethan Hawke, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Willis
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Eric Schlosser and Richard Linklater, based on the book by Schlosser
Cinematography: Lee Daniel
Music: Friends of Dean Martinez

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