Archive for the Cinema Reviews Category

Robyn O’Brien @ TEDx in Austin

Posted in Cinema Reviews, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , , , on May 8, 2012 by Verge

Please take a look at this video.  It’s only 18 minutes long, and explains what’s wrong with the food industry in this country today.  I know I’ve posted movies before.  Some of you might not want to see slaughter houses, or sit through 90 minutes of slanted documentaries.

I can understand why.  But this one is very different.

Robyn O’Brien was just like every ordinary American eater and mother.  She wasn’t a health food nut, or a vegan, or an organic non-GM eater, and never thought there was a problem with food in America.  Then something terrible happened which lead her down a path of discovery about the truth of modern food in America.

I highly encourage all of you, but especially the skeptics who think genetically-modified is fine, organic is expensive and un-needed, and kids with allergies are the result of paranoid parents, to watch this video with an open mind.  It doesn’t come from PETA, but instead, someone just like you.

Please visit her webpage to learn more.

Movie Review: Timer

Posted in Cinema Reviews, Polls with tags , , on July 8, 2010 by Verge

Would you want to know the future?  That question alone has been explored in films before.  Most of the time it comes in the form of a traveler from the future trying to warn us.  But Timer, the directorial debut feature from Jac Shaeffer, moves the dilemma from the distance of the future to the very immediate present.   What if there was device that could tell you, to the second, when you would look into the eyes of your soul-mate for the very first time.  Would you want it?

An Indie film that appears on the surface to be just another romantic comedy proves to cut much deeper into philosophical dilemmas than an initial impression might imply. With a very brief explanation, and a solid dose of suspended disbelief, we are presented with the “Timer.”  Taking place in modern New York, this quasi sci-fi flick employs a wrist embedded countdown clock  to unravel the classic romantic tug-and-pull storyline with a serious moral dilemma.

Once attached to your wrist, the Timer finds your soul mate and displays the exact days, hours, minutes and seconds until you meet that person.  There are a few catches, though.  For one, you can only see the countdown if your soul mate also has a timer implanted.  Until then, it just looks and waits and displays straight zeroes.  Secondly, if you ever choose to remove your timer, biologically, you cannot ever have it re-implanted.  This setup cast doubt over many of our gut reactions to the formerly easy decision of discovering our life long soul mate.

Our main character, Oona, and her sister have both chosen to implant timers in an effort to avoid the pitfalls of marriage as we know it.  In the day of timers, divorces are non-existent.  Happiness is a guarantee when you eventually find your match.  It can range from never, to 5000 days to even just a few hours.  Oona has no match yet, and she decides to force potential partners to get timers implanted t0 decide whether to continue dating them or lose the “dead end” right away.

Problems arrive when she inadvertently falls in love with a young boy who is well below her league but curiously attractive.  He has a timer as well, and he’s all set to meet his soul mate in just a short four months.  At first, it makes for the perfect, extended one night stand as Oona waits for her timer to finally find her a mate, but emotions don’t make things so easy.  The movie unravels with a peppering of clock imagery, carefully thought-out dialog and a twisting of existential debacles.

A staggeringly serious movie cleverly cloaked as a chick flick, I highly recommend you watch this film with an open mind.  With the same seriousness, I invite you to ponder the following poll.  Please leave your responses as comments on this blog so that others may respond.

Viewing Pleasures

Posted in Cinema Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Verge

I’ve added a new Category of Links to my blog today.  It’s called, as you may have been able to surmise, “Viewing Pleasures.”

Here I will add links to movies that I find interesting.   Of course, Monika and I like to watch movies, and especially as a result of us not having cable in our house.  But, these links won’t necessarily be movies that are great cinema or simple fun to watch.  More so, they will be links to documentaries that, at the very least, have made me think.   In addition, there is a “Type of Verge” called Cinema reviews, which are just some thoughts on movies I’ve watched.  If they’re good enough, they get a link in Viewing Pleasures.  If not, screw ’em.

I won’t say that everything I will list here I automatically have swallowed whole and taken as a definitive viewpoint.  I will say that most of them must have at least struck a chord that is in some significant harmony with my current views.  They may have bolstered my opinions.  I list them only for your consideration, not as prognostication.

I will also add that the links are to the direct websites that often times will allow you to watch the films in full.  However, Netflix also often offers them as streaming movies, and YouTube often has them broken into parts for your not so conveniently packaged but still completely free viewing pleasure.

Tonight, I briefly introduce my first three recommendations:

The first links to a movie called “Fast Food Nation” based on a book by the same name by Eric Schlosser.  It is the only movie I’ve listed tonight that is a work of fiction, based on the factual evidence in the book.  Directed by Richard Linklater, it takes a look at how our current fast food culture values the bottom line far more than animal ethics  and worker safety.  Instead of generically describing the machination of the fast food industry, it instead tries to strike a more moving note by assigning actual characters as embodiments of the roles all sides of the industry can take on.  One of his more indie style films, it walks a delicate line between the raw truth and an uncomfortable humor, thus making it a bit more palatable for the skeptical, pessimistic, meat-consuming viewer.

The second is a documentary called “Food, Inc.”  I just finished watching this one and haven’t fully digested what I think about it.  In general, it takes a look at the way our agricultural life has morphed from a once pastoral lifestyle to an ugly, manipulative, big-business monopoly.  It focuses on some of the hottest topics in the current food debate including corn, factory farming, pesticides, mass-production, label manipulation, genetic engineering, the FDA and government oversight, and of course, fast food.  Because it does not push an overwhelming vegetarian lifestyle, but merely tries to show the direction of food delivery in a modern culture of “cheaper, faster and instantly gratifying,” I think it gives a more neutral portrayal than PETA could ever give.

The final selection is “King Corn.”  This entire movie takes the singular subject of the corn industry in modern American agriculture.  It documents how government subsidies dictate the cost of food that farmers produce, and therefore, what ingredients are included in the food we consume, regardless of nutritional value or consumer desires.  It also documents an interesting experiment that the filmmakers stretch through the duration of the film:   what is it like to be a modern corn farmer?  As diabetes takes our youngest generation of Americans by the throat even before they’ve ever had a chance to make a different decision, I would highly recommend this film for anyone who want to know how the hell we got ourselves into the deplorable debacle of obesity in this country.

You can always find my recommended movies in my Links, currently on the right near the bottom.  ENJOY!

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