Fast Food Nation - the film

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Fast Food Nation - the film

Postby Hiking Fox » Tue Jan 09, 2007 12:17 pm

My review of Fast Food Nation (discuss)

I went to the press preview of this last night. It goes on general release at the end of March. 112 mins, Cert 15.

This film has the potential to be a very powerful tool for change, but the sprawling nature of the story means it won't appeal to those with a short concentration span. I'll summarise it here so that people know what to expect.

Co-directed by Richard Linklater (who did 'Waking Life', and the powerful 'A Scanner Darkly'), it features his characteristic style of all the action being centred around conversation. There is a lot of dialogue in this film, and a lot of characters doing the talking, which is both a strength and a weakness in terms of its ability to convey a lot of easily understandable information.

The film begins in the boardroom of a fictional company called 'Mickey's', whose red and yellow logos and packaging are a not very subtle parody of McDonalds. The marketing team are celebrating the success of their new 'Big One' burger, but there are rumblings of concern about the high levels of faecal matter (ie. cowshit) that lab tests have found in the meat. So 'Don' is dispatched to the packing plant in Colorado to investigate. As he makes his enquiries, we learn that 'everybody knows there's shit in the meat', but the decision-makers just accept it as inevitable, because changing things would be far too complicated and expensive.

As Don's shock and disillusionment grows, the film begins to focus on the lives of two young women at the bottom end of the fast food indiustry. 'Sylvia', a Mexican immigrant who crossed the border with her family to get cash-in-hand work at the meat plant, and 'Amber', a teenage worker at a branch of Mickey's. The bullying and sexual harassment endured by Sylvia's family, the monotony of the work, the danger they face, and their subservience to their superviser, (who exploits his position fully by selling them drugs) is very evident, and there's some very strong acting here.

Amber's story isn't developed as fully, but the conversation with her uncle in which she finally decides to pack in her job and replace hope for a better world with positive action right now (including joining an environmental action group), is one of the highlights of the film.

Practically every issue that most of us will have with the fast food industry is covered by this film, with the exceptions of overpackaging and obesity, which aren't even touched upon (in fact, I didn't spot a single greasy fat person depicted eating a burger at any point).

The cattle ranches used are the ones described in the original book. It's a work of fiction, but the people seem very real, so I think communicates the truth far better than a documentary would have done. Fast Food Nation presents the burger industry as a corporate machine, which invades every facet of modern life. It is powerful in that it asks a lot of embarrassing questions, but the really shocking stuff is saved for the end. Cows are killed, gutted and chopped up in this film, with blood spurting everywhere. A worker gets mangled by machinery and loses his leg, but the company aren't responsible, because he tested positive for drugs. They really don't pull any punches. It's the kind of footage I wish everyone could see.

Shock tactics don't work for everybody, and some people will find the loose, rambling nature of the narrative unsatisfying (although it is very much a growing trend with directors nowadays), but I really want this film to be a mainstream success, and hope that it is widely promoted by activists.
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Postby Hiking Fox » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:54 pm

I want to set up a website called 'I'm leavin' it' and put loads of anti burger industry links on it.

If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to post here.
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Postby pelicanAndrew » Sat Jan 13, 2007 9:18 pm

There's a Facebook Group called "I'm Loathin It".

Just another name idea. Maybe get in contact with the guy who did Super Size me. Hopefully he's not a huge ego maniac now. I don't think he would be.
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Postby XkillerX » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:42 pm

before i start bashing on this crapfest of a cinematic experience we're discussing here i'll just spin off for a moment and engage in disillusioning the aforementioned "waking life". (i know i'm boring, i'll wrap it up, bare with me for a moment).

waking life centers around a bunch of bullshit. cheap theories, spiritual and emotional nonsense anybody can come up with with a bit of free time and packed into an amasing package that keeps you sticking til the end and giving you a completely new, behind the surface view of the world around you, your dreams, your life. when you're less than twenty, maybe. wake the hell up. you're not a kid. life is not a dream. not even a bad one. that movie didnt make a single notion about self improvement, society, altruism, or the real world around us. maybe it's useful for giving dreamers and or psy-drug users a couple of fresh new ideas they can put to use, but for the rest of us, it's crap. it's like when you have an older cousin who's like cooler than your parents and acts all mature and gives you all kinds of brilliant advices for life and they all turn out to be garbage just like the failure he and his life are, but of course you have to grow up first to realise all of that since we're all quite gullible as kids. pure artistic dump.


now back to the main topic. for those of you who are already bored of my ranting and/or have a short attention span i'll just cut&paste a quote from imdb and stick it here:

A wasted opportunity: Fast Food Nation is about as satisfying as a happy meal.


more like a poopy meal. if this is what la resistance has to offer, we're all doomed. like cycling fox mentioned, this is another film by linkleter, who centers all his movies around horrible acting and an even worse script. pointless scenes and endless, meaningless dialogues just keep pouring from an endless tap of crap-water, boring you to death and making you realise what an awesome movie "confessions of a dangerous mind" was compared to this hellfest. how boring? how bad? the loathed "lost in translation" was wow compared to FFN.

what the hell were they trying to achieve with this movie anyways?!?!

make you open your eyes!? what eyes?? although i suffer from insomnia i'm afraid that i lost contact with my brain (not my consciousness) somewhere six minutes into the movie and i dont think the poor thing will forgive me anytime soon. everything is just SO bad in this movie. especially the script. everything is in vain. this movie is supposed to be anti-establishment, right? so where's the movement? where's the action? where are the gutts? nothing changes. except innocent lives (and by innocent lives, of course i mean animals, because i can't stand humans) used as natural resources and nobody standing up for a second and saying I DONT NEED TO KILL TO EAT?!?!


noooo...


it's all filled with whimpy, gooey sentences like "oooh, i dont feel comfortable with this, !!SOMEHOW!! it just doesnt feel right...."


AAAAARRRGGGHHHh!!!!!!!


of course it's not right!!! the foul stench of death and decay is in the air everywhere around us in society and this movie is pointlessly skiffing on the surface from the beginning until the end.

then, somebody reminded the director, that after all, this movie is gonna be distributed by non-other than fox, so you know, it's gotta be a commercial success; ok: an underground-commercial succes, so they threw in some good ole' heterosexual sex with witty regards to homosexualism (khm... or should i say bisexualism?) and a gratuitous scene of a horrifying work accident just to snap as awake because most of the viewers already left because the previous meaningless 30 minute dialogue just wouldnt end.

the poor cows? yepp, 2 mins of slaughter videos at the very end of the movie. of course it's all done in the most emotionless and coldest way possible, and centered around a twist on the story everyone knew it was coming since the beginning, but was (ir)rationalised with an erroneous storypart that makes no sense.


just like this whole movie. it's stupid, it's extremely boring, it's compromising instead of rebelling and just plain out waste.

wasted effort to film it, wasted effort to fund it, wasted effort to watch it and wasted effort to pity it. the only thing not wasted about it is that i can warn you all to avoid it from as far away as possible. instead of losing 2 hours of your life on this trash, spend it convincing somebody to reflect upon his junkfood life and deathatarian eating habits. even if you utterly and miserably fail in your attempt, you get ridiculed and everything is in vain it was still 2 hours spent much better and more useful than watching fast food nation.

or just hand them over a copy of the incredible "super size me" plus peta's very own "chew on this". now there's some good stuff with a point and purpose.
Next time, I'll spend the money on drugs instead.
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Re: Fast Food Nation - the film

Postby XkillerX » Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:20 pm

Cycling Fox wrote:(in fact, I didn't spot a single greasy fat person depicted eating a burger at any point).

what do you mean, no fat greasy persons!? what about bruce willis?!?! did you forget about the almighty hail his holiness the last boyscout bruce willis??? that muthffckr is so greasy i had to wipe the screen after his scene was over because i couldnt see shit from the grease stains he left all over it.

P.S. Adendum to the previous rant on "Fast Food Nation": if the names Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, Bruce Willis and Kris Kristofferson printed on the movie poster made you erroniously think about wanting to watch it anyway, you missed one important start name on the roster: Ethan "I haven't been in a good movie since the nineties" Hawke. He only appears halfway through and has an unmentionable, pointless cameo, but that he's in there at all should make you draw your own conclusions.

ps2: warning: the previous texts contain spoilers to the plot (WHAT PLOT?!) and ending (WHAT ENDING?!?).
Next time, I'll spend the money on drugs instead.
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Postby wannalift » Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:52 pm

xkillerx,
i really liked Waking Life. probably for the exact opposite reasons that you HATED {emphasis added} it. not every film is going to bow to your set of normative ethics to please people with a distaste of imagination. the point of the film was examining the world through the perspectives/ideas of others, not to find comparisons with your own.
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Postby XkillerX » Sat Jan 20, 2007 8:18 pm

you're wrong. that movie did not have a point. just like fast food nation. just like all other ultra-narrative creations that talk the talk but dont walk the walk.
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Postby wannalift » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:25 am

XkillerX wrote:you're wrong. that movie did not have a point. just like fast food nation. just like all other ultra-narrative creations that talk the talk but dont walk the walk.


why does it have to have a POINT? add to that, how would a movie like this go about "walking the walk"?

apparently, in your mind, the film should have explored the ideas of the many characters and then summarized it at the end with a unified theory of existence. if they made a movie like that then i already don't want to watch it. it would make me feel as if the director was addressing the audience as sheep, or at best children.
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Postby Hiking Fox » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:58 am

XkillerX wrote: more like a poopy meal. if this is what la resistance has to offer, we're all doomed. like cycling fox mentioned, this is another film by linkleter, who centers all his movies around horrible acting and an even worse script. pointless scenes and endless, meaningless dialogues just keep pouring from an endless tap of crap-water, boring you to death and making you realise what an awesome movie "confessions of a dangerous mind" was compared to this hellfest.


I think this is completely over the top. You seem determined to hate the film because it isn't all action and explosions. Some people (myself included) are tired of everything being glammed up and dramatic, and like to see some films done in an alternative way. Like I said, there is a lot of dialogue in this film and this won't appeal to everybody, but it does show realistic people making unsavoury discoveries about fast food, and is very true to the book whilst being more accessible than a documentary.

the poor cows? yepp, 2 mins of slaughter videos at the very end of the movie. of course it's all done in the most emotionless and coldest way possible...


A good thing, surely? How can brutal slaughter of animals be anything other than cold and emotionless?

just like this whole movie. it's stupid, it's extremely boring, it's compromising instead of rebelling and just plain out waste.


Some people will find it boring in places, it certainly isn't stupid. How can a film 'rebel'? Rebel against what - your parents? There are people in the film depicted as reacting against cruelty, capitalism and potentially dangerous food. The viewer is left to make their own mind about this. Would you prefer a film that preaches, and tells people that they're wrong?

or just hand them over a copy of the incredible "super size me" plus peta's very own "chew on this". now there's some good stuff with a point and purpose.


'Super-size Me' deals exclusively with the health aspects of eating too much fast food, and it does this very well, but there is no anti-meat message (in fact, the film maker clearly loves eating meat), no anti-litter message, nothing about exploitation of workers and nothing about all the crap that goes into the burgers.
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