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Indybay Feature

Fast Food Nation

Wednesday, June 02, 2010
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Humanist Hall
390 27th Street
midtown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway

Film evenings begin with optional potluck refreshments and social hour at 6:30 pm,
followed by the film at 7:30 pm, followed by a discussion after the film.

Fast Food Nation
by Richard Linklater

This nervy movie is part documentary and part feature film with major stars. It’s an adaptation of Eric Schlosser’s best-selling expose of the same name. In fact filmmaker Richard Linklater worked together with author Eric Schlosser to make the film.

The territory of the film is nothing less than the American lifestyle. While it does not shy away from making arguments and advancing a clear point of view, it’s far too rich and complicated to be understood as a simple, high-minded polemic about food. It is didactic, but it’s also dialectical. While the climactic images of slaughter and butchery — filmed in an actual abattoir — may seem intended to spoil our appetites, Linklater and Schlosser have really undertaken a much deeper and more comprehensive critique of contemporary American life.

The film tells multiple stories, which radiate like spokes from the hub of a central theme. A fast food executive pokes around in a fictional city in Colorado trying to balance his search for the truth with an apparent desire not to do anything that might hurt his career. Meanwhile, a group of Mexican immigrants arrives in town and takes up dangerous, stomach-turning jobs at the meat-processing plant. And a third story features a teenage burger-slinger who undergoes a crisis of conscience when she falls in with a group of anti-corporate activists from a nearby college.

What the filmmaker does best is to film people in conversation. The movie is thick with debate, argument, rumination, and repartee. The talkiness is what saves the movie from turning into a lecture. Its loose, digressive rhythm keeps it tethered to reality, while the dialogue and the easy pace of the scenes allow the characters to register as individuals, not just as types. The cast is large but the crowdedness of the movie is evidence of its liveliness. Everyone in it has something to say and the central characters face some hard ethical choices set down by the logic of 21st-century consumer capitalism. The movie does not neglect the mute, helpless suffering of the cows, but it also acknowledges the status anxiety of the managerial class, the aspirations of the working poor, and the frustrations of the dreaming young. It’s a mirror and a portrait, and as necessary and nourishing as your next meal.

Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street

$5 donations are accepted
Added to the calendar on Sun, May 16, 2010 9:31PM
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