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August 18, 2014 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

Feast Your Eyes

The combination of a lack of TV in my flat and lack of desire means the phenomenon of My Kitchen Rules has not infiltrated my digital life. I don’t even know how it differs from Masterchef, Cupcake Wars, Chelsea NZ’s Hottest Home Baker, Hell’s Kitchen, or The Great Food Race to which I could never understand my family’s obsession. Yet this widespread fanaticism for voyeuristic reality TV shows demonstrates that food fuels not only the body but also the mind, and below are some films which provide you with some cinematic nutritional value.

Big Macs aren’t all they seem

The raspberry yoghurt from an ‘organic’ supermarket in a wealthy area of Los Angeles was the colour of Barney the dinosaur. Upon examination of the ingredients, it was revealed that ‘carrot juice’ was the only apparently non-chemical ‘organic’ thing about it. At least in New Zealand, the main problem you encounter with a similar product are awkwardly stuck seeds in your teeth. The food industry in the United States has been an intense subject matter for filmmakers who aspire to enlighten their populations on the reasons why their chicken nuggets truly do taste a little too remarkably and consistently flavourful. Below are suggestions of films which make the packaging in our Kiwi supermarkets seem relatively tame (NOT to suggest there should be a consequent sense of satisfied consumer apathy among resourceful New Zealanders).

Food, Inc. – In sum, this film reveals how the food industry in the US is twisted by corporate control, with the best resistance to these abominable, unsympathetic corporate forces lying in the power of consumers to change their consumption habits. A film which provides a critical and revealing insight into excessively efficient food production and the economic and legal control wielded by an elite few over the diets of everyday Americans, you begin to consider how your individual choices contribute to a seemingly undefeatable economic hierarchy. Directed by Robert Kenner, it’s not the most flattering snapshot into the American Dream.

King Corn – It turns out everything in the United States is made out of corn. This film directed by Aaron Woolf follows two college friends in their investigation of the subsidised maize.

Super Size Me – In the land that defined freedom of choice, consumers have the generous liberty of being able to buy coffees with six shots and burgers that dwarf your face.

Ingredients – Prominent American chefs examine the importance of buying local food, i.e. “you shouldn’t be buying garlic that’s shipped from miles away on huge ships between sex toys and flip flops”, as it was eloquently put by an interviewee.

Food porn

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – This documentary has generated an almost cult following with the fascinating insight it provides into the life of Jiro Ono, who is often described as the world’s greatest sushi master. His restaurant is tucked inconspicuously in a Japanese subway station; however, with three Michelin stars and chefs who have spent ten years mastering Tamagoyaki (egg sushi), it provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience (if you manage to book six months in advance). It’s a poignant and intimate documentary with lessons about the importance of attention to detail, compassion, recognition and hard work.

Vice Munchies – Not a film but a YouTube channel that will enlighten everyone, providing digital content on the lives of brilliant chefs, insights into global culinary politics and a general celebration of diversity. For example, if you have ever been intrigued as to “How to make Cock cakes”, Munchies provides you with the answer. These short and sharp videos are addictive.

Food x passion

Eat Drink Man Woman – Comedy directed by Ang Lee about a father’s passion to protect his daughters and the role sharing food plays in sharing lives.

Ratatouille – A Pixar beauty, which successfully generates a passionate desire to snack, what with that rich illustration, and possibly a softening of a hatred towards rodents.

Like Water for Chocolate – Based on the novel by Laura Esquivel, this story delves into magical realism where food becomes a dangerous and powerful tool to manipulate the emotions of others.


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