Fast Food Nation: Eat This Film

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06/09/2010 1:01 PM |

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Tonight at 92YTribeca, Richard Linklater and Eric Schlosser will be on hand for a Q&A following a screening of their film of Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation. This is the first night of Eat This Film!, a new monthly film series copresented by Edible Manhattan and our great friends at Reverse Shot.

As we back away from our centurylong lacuna in food awareness—and the accompanying factory farming, synthetic additives, preprocessing and packaging—our cinema has been keeping up, and not just with activist agri-docs, making Eat This Film a timely series for cultural as well as critical reasons.

Reviewing Fast Food Nation for this magazine in 2006, Michael Joshua Rowin wrote:

Connecting the dots from, among others, fictional burger joint Mickey’s marketer Greg Kinnear, meat packing plant and migrant workers Catalina Sandino Moreno and Wilmer Valderrama, and Mickey’s cashier-turned-activist Ashley Johnson, FFN… actually retains a human dimension: not just a diagram, the film imparts the sense of lives shaped by the culture and marketplace wrought by unchecked corporate practices.

It’s true: the film, though adapted from a work of reportage, ends up a surprisingly lively bit of ensemble sociology. The film is remarkably alive to everyday signifiers of class and status: Everything from the characters’ options, attitudes and assumptions to their taste in restaurants, cloths and interior design seems to correspond really rightly to the film’s cross-section of an economic superstructure—seems to indicate how this top-to-bottom industrial system sorts its own, from business-class hotel rooms and chain steakhouses to agit-prop dorm-room posters to shitty high-school jobs. And Linklater, who likes people as much as any American filmmaker now working, makes this sociology anything but dry. (My favorite bit is still Ethan Hawke as a blue-collar bohemian trying to convince his bright niece not to get trapped in her station: “If you reach your 18th birthday without having missed a single menstrual cycle, I will give you one thousand dollars.”)