The Couch Potato Report – September 13th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels some films that may change your appetites.
Some films are meant to simply entertain.
They make us laugh or cry, and once they are done, you feel entertained….even emotionally nurished.
Other movies want to do more than that…they want to engage you, feed your brain, stir up feelings or emotions, and possibly even incite change.
This week’s HOT POTATO is the latter type of film.
It is the documentary THE FUTURE OF FOOD.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD takes an in-depth investigation into unlabelled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have been making their way on to our grocery store shelves for the past decade or so.
The movie features many farmers who are in disagreement with the food industry, and it shows the impacts that new technology has had on their lives and livlihood.
Some of the farmers in the film are even from Saskatchewan…including Vonda ortganic Farmer Marc Loiselle.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD also shows the costs of a globalised food industry – in dollars, livlihoods and human lives – and it features some of the legal issues that some farmers have faced at the hands of the huge companies who are trying to control the seeds that are out there, and as a result, food itself.
Bruno’s Percy and Louise Schmeiser’s case against Monsanto is prominantly featured….and their story remains very compelling
Working against THE FUTURE OF FOOD is the fact that the movie doesn’t have a strong enough narrator, but that is only a tiny flaw.
It is ultimately a movie I would recommed – to everyone – as it does feature some shocking facts about the food that we eat, and it does a pretty good job showing multiple sides of the issues it raises – especially when talking about Organic farming versus traditional methods – and it did make me think and engage me.
And as I have said before, on several occasions, that is what a documentary is supposed to do.
What a documentary is NOT supposed to do is only give you one side of a story…sadly, that is exactly what THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO does.
Even though there is a short scene explaining why they don’t offer MONSANTO’s side of their story, the fact that this is a one sided documentary really hurts it…unless you have a grudge against the company, then you will love it!!
If you are unfamiliar with the company, some of Monsanto’s “accomplishments” are the production of Agent Orange, PCBs, and genetically modified crops such as Roundup Ready soybeans that, far from being a boon to farmers around the world, threaten their livelihood and undermine biodiversity.
Simply put, they are one of the biggest chemical companies in the world and the provider of the seed technology for 90 percent of the world’s genetically engineered crops.
But whether you support the company, or despise them, any documentary has to offer both sides, and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO just paints a grim picture of a company with a long track record of environmental crimes and health scandals.
Is there a bright side, something – anything positive about what the company is doing?
If there is, this film doesn’t show it.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO has a lot about it that I would recommend, but due to the one sided slant it offers, the fact that the filmmaker is repeatedly seen doing Google searches on a computer to find out the information that she needs, and the fact that she actually does some interviews on the phone instead of traveling to the city where her subject is in – even though she does travel to other cities for other interviews – all of that just added up to a movie that had some interesting stories and facts, but ultimately doesn’t make me feel the need to tell you to see it.
If THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO sounds appealing to you, then you should see it. If it doesn’t…just skip it.
There are three other titkles for me to tell you about this week, and I will begin with the best of the three, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the quirky, fun and entertaining television show ELI STONE, starring the exceptionally beautiful, lovely and talented Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge.
The show also stars the great Ontario born actor Victor Garber from ALIAS and Jonny Lee Miller from TRAINSPOTTING as Eli Stone, a lawyer who begins to see things – and hear George Michael’s music everywhere he goes.
It turns out that he has a brain aneurysm, which are causing his visions, and unless he follows the path that they lay out – a path that offers little monetary gain but a lot of moral goodness – the visions don’t stop.
Yes, you gotta have faith.
Ultimately, putting it’s gimmick aside, ELI STONE is just another procedural lawyer show where there are cases to be won and lost.
This one is perhaps a bit too preachy and idealistic at times, but I like idealistic, and even though some of the cast outside of Miller, Garber and the exceptionally beautiful, lovely and talented Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge aren’t as appealing as the three main stars, I like the show.
If you have been looking for a show about lawyers with a twist, ELI STONE might be the show you have been looking for.
Okay….usually when a film is as bad as the next new release I have for you, I would just ignore it. I wouldn’t give it a seconds worth of airtime as it doesn’t deserve it.
That is certainly true of THE PROMOTION, an absolutely awful film…but due to the fact that it stars some people who you and I usually like to see in films and on our televisions – including Seann William Scott from the AMERICAN PIE films, John C. Reilly of TALLEDEGA NIGHTS and CHICAGO, Fred Armisen from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, Jenna Fischer from BLADES OF GLORY, and she plays Pam on THE OFFICE and Lili Taylor from the classic 80s film SAY ANYTHING – due to that cast, this film must be mentioned here…just so I can tell you to stay away from it.
This is one of the worst movies ever made…it isn’t funny, it has nothing entertaining to offer you, the cast is completely wasted, and it is a complete waste of time.
Again, the movie is called THE PROMOTION…it is about two assistant managers of a corporate grocery store vie for a coveted promotion….and it is garbage…even if you have liked the cast in their past roles…skip it! Ignore it…just walk on past!!
Whatever their intentions, they made a piece of garbage!
Moving on, well my friend, it is time for our annual alternative to the action filled, very loud, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie season.
Again this year, I spent some time telling you about at least one current release on DVD that you would need your brain to enjoy.
And now, it is time for the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD to conclude, and our final entry this year is the Russian film POISONED BY POLONIUM: THE LITVINENKO FILE.
Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian State security service, and later a Russian dissident and writer.
On November 1st, 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later from lethal poisoning by radioactive Polonium, which was slipped into his tea during a meeting with two visitors from Moscow.
CLIP – POISONED – Asylum
TIME – 15 seconds
POISONED BY POLONIUM allows Litvinenko to tell his own story in this film, in his own words, using never seen before footage and interviews with his widow, his friends and his alleged killers.
The film attempts to recreate a world of intrigue, high-stake politics, love, loyalty and betrayal, and at times it succeeds. At other times, quite unfortunately, this film is just boring.
I liked POISONED BY POLONIUM: THE LITVINENKO FILE, and if espionage or spies intrigue you, then I think you will enjoy it too.
It isn’t a must see, but it is an effective way to end this year’s FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD!!
But fret not…whenever there are Foreign Films that are worthy of a mention, I will have them for you…no matter what time of year it is!
The Russian film POISONED BY POLONIUM: THE LITVINENKO FILE, the useless film that you should avoid at all costs called THE PROMOTION, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the entertaining show ELI STONE, and the engaging documentary THE FUTURE OF FOOD are all available now on DVD.
The one-sided documentary THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO comes out on Tuesday.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
I will talk about the made-in-Manitoba film THE STONE ANGEL, SEASON ONE of the television series DIRTY SEXY MONEY starring the great Donald Sutherland, and the comedies BABY MAMA, FLETCH and the 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of THE BIG LEBOWSKI…starring Mr. Lebowski.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – September 13th, 2008