Smart Movies: Food Inc and Soul Power
Have you been all Transformer’n and Harry Potter’n this summer? Are you, by any chance Brüno‘ed out?
Well, depending on where you live both of these brainier flicks should still be in theaters. Remember, being a bit of a nerd is a good thing.
Food Inc. is a thought-provoking exposé of the food industry. There are a lot of “didja know…?” moments, most of which ultimately have to do with meat – what’s in it, how the animals are treated and handled, and just how safe the government keeps us from nasty little bugs like E. Coli and salmonella (both of which can kill you). The twist in Food Inc. that my many years as vegetarian didn’t teach me was how multinational corporations control every aspect of farming from soybean seed saving to how much light is let into a standard chicken coop; these same corporations are also involved in worker abuse, genetic modification of otherwise healthy foods, and a great deal of pollution. When we look at it that way, the food we eat becomes much less a health issue and more a geopolitical concern of which we should all be aware. One of the more surprising aspects was the audience reaction to the film. No one batted an eyelash during the discussion of the ammonia that’s added to ground beef fillers, but the entire crowd gasped at the sight of a chicken being killed, plucked, and prepared – and this scene’s purpose was to show us the humane way to go about things. If you are a meat-eater and haven’t yet figured out that beef comes from living, breathing cows, God bless you because you need to grow up. If, on the other hand, you’ve made a conscious decision about your diet, from vegan to carnivore, but still want to know more, Food Inc. is a must-see. Not only will you learn more about the hidden health aspects of everything from corn to fish (and the fish that have been taught to eat corn – bizarre), but you’ll evaluate your support for an industry that can be just as vile and vicious as any other corporate giant imaginable.
Food Inc. Trailer:
Soul Power is a tough movie to review because there isn’t a drop of real dialogue. One of the cleanest and plain documentaries I’ve ever seen, the movie is just the raw footage of the Zaire ’74 concert spliced together for viewer enjoyment – no commentary or annotations necessary. In 1974 Don King put together “The Rumble In The Jungle,” Muhammed Ali defending his heavyweight title to George Foreman in Kinshasha, Zaire (now The Democratic Republic of The Congo). Hugh Maskela and Steward Levine convinced King to add a concert to the festivities to further cash in on the presence of so many tourists, but the fight was postponed because of an injury that Foreman sustained while training. The show went on anyway, but instead of packing the venue with tourists, Zaire ’74 was filled with locals – the essence of a cross-cultural affair. The most interesting aspect of the movie (aside from 1974’s fashion, people smoking on airplanes, and Muhammed Ali running his mouth in the revolutionary way that only he could) is simply the music: The Spinners, Bill Withers, Sister Sledge, Miriam Makeba, The Fania All-Stars, The Crusaders, B.B. King and James Brown, plus a handful of local Southern African acts. I saw the film with my mother, which was smart because I needed her to point out certain artists I didn’t recognize, and we both jammed in our seats the whole show. Maybe you’ll know all of the music, maybe you’ll discover some new favorites, or just enjoy live performances in the moment and forget all about them later. Either way, Soul Power is a short and fun journey to a time and a place where you’ve never been, and isn’t that the best kind to take?
Soul Power Trailer: