FOOD CHAINS On DemandDecember 08, 2014

FOOD CHAINS On Demand

FOOD CHAINS (Screen Media)

FOOD CHAINS is yet another example of how broken the food system is in our country, this time shedding a light on the deplorable working conditions many migrant farm workers face while picking the food that feeds us. Most American’s have no idea how our food ends up on shelves in supermarkets. There have been many documentaries exposing everything from factory farms to the dangers of GMO’s, but we rarely hear about the actual people who are in the fields.

In his directorial feature film debut, Sanjay Rawal introduces us to the tomato pickers of Immokalee, Florida as they mobilize a campaign against Publix Supermarket, the largest buyer of tomatoes during the season.

 

Farmworkers in Florida picking tomatoes are paid by the bucket photo courtesy FOOD CHAINS (Screen Media)


 The film opens with scenes of an impoverished section of Immokolee, Florida, where farm workers are living in trailers with as many as 15 other people. These workers leave their homes at 5am and get bussed to farms where they work all day for a penny for every pound of tomatoes they pick. It is back-breaking work in the hot sun, while breathing in pesticides from neighboring farms. They don’t get paid until their first bucket of tomatoes is filled. During this time, they can experience sexual and physical abuse in the largely unsupervised fields, until they arrive back home at 8pm with a check for about $42 for a days work.

“You come to the realization how little you mean to the people you are working for” says one farm worker. The film explains how the retail food giants, the buyers of these tomatoes, yield too much power over the supply chain and set impossible prices which farms must meet or they will get left out of the purchasing cycle.

We meet members of The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) who launched the Fair Food Program with the goal of partnering with farms and retail food companies to ensure humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables. They are trying to sit down with members of the supply chain to discuss their program and to garner an additional penny per pound of tomatoes they pick. In an effort to get their attention, the CIW organizes a Hunger Strike outside of Publix Headquarters.

Exploiting migrant workers is nothing new in this country and why the film integrates archival footage such as Robert Kennedy Jr, joining Hugo Chavez, in Los Angeles, during a famous hunger strike in 1972. The issue continues today because the workers feel they will be fired or deported if they speak up which adds to what is truly a modern day slavery situation. Appearances are made by members of the Kennedy Family (Ethel Kennedy and RFK, Jr) who join the CIW workers during their Hunger Strike, keeping their families support of this issue alive.

On-air interviews with Eric Schlosser (FAST FOOD NATION and FOOD INC) and actress and farm worker advocate, Eva Longoria, are included who both serve as the Executive Producers on the film. The 82 minute film is narrated by Oscar© Winning Actor, Forest Whitaker, using English subtitles throughout. The filmmaker does a great job with imagery, working in bright splashes of tomato red color over an otherwise drab and dull backdrop. The film also incorporates colorful info-graphics and factoids throughout, explaining how things work in the supply chain.

 

 Eva Longoria, FOOD CHAINS (Screen Media)


 With the recent announcement by President Obama to grant immunity to thousands of undocumented citizens, it appears the farm workers are going to be vastly left out. Many say the lobbyists keep them out of the mix because we won’t have anyone to work in the fields. Given that food is something we are going to need no matter what happens, one thing is certain, we can’t wait for legislation in this country to create the change we want to see.

After watching FOOD CHAINS it will make you want to act, which is what I did first by making sure my parents living in Southwest Florida were aware of this issue. 

BESIDE STILL WATERS - On DemandNovember 20, 2014

BESIDE STILL WATERS - On Demand

BESIDE STILL WATERS (Tribeca Film)

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: BESIDE STILL WATERS (Tribeca Film).

A group of childhood friends reunite after one member of the circle experiences the sudden death of his parents in a car accident in the indie film BESIDE STILL WATERS. It’s Daniel (Ryan Eggold, THE BLACKLIST) who’s lost his folks and the gang meets at his family lake house one last time before all is packed up and the house is sold. This is a location filled with nostalgia for everyone, and now it’s simmering with the intense need for mourning, and plenty of guilt as none of Daniel’s friends made it to the funeral.

 

BESIDE STILL WATERS (Tribeca Film)



THE BIG CHILL will certainly come to mind as you watch this film: old friends together again in a remote location, recent death in the air, past relationships rekindled. The kinds of conflicts you’d expect from such a scenario are on display early. Daniel’s ex-girlfriend Olivia (Britt Lower) arrives with a new fiance in tow, played by Reid Scott (VEEP). Martin and Abby are the married couple who have seen their passions cool, although Martin hopes this weekend can turn up the heat. Some of the pack have become successful, like reality TV star James (Brett Dalton, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.). Other are struggling, like Tom (Beck Bennett, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE) who was fired by his Dad just before the trip.

Overall the film succeeds in stirring up wistful longing for days gone by, like any sentimental story of this kind should. It does fall into some stereotypical traps, though. For example, a musical montage of the hilarious, drunken fun everyone is having during their first night in the house. One segment built around a drinking game named Whiskey Slaps is the comedic highlight of the film. If you can’t guess what a Whiskey Slap is, you’ll pick it up quickly once you see the concept in action.

Despite some of its emotional missteps, the film does hit a few notes exactly right. During a one conversation a character offers the cliche, “All’s fair in love and war” to which Tom questions, “What do we know about love and war?” A poignant commentary on this privledged pack. Director Chris Lowell also created a device wherein we see Danilel’s stream of consciousness memories in a quick series of black and white images. It’s the best choice from a craft/chatacter perspective in the film, and it continues to add dimension to Daniel through the picture.

 

BESIDE STILL WATERS (Tribeca Film)

Lisa Kudrow Makes Her Comeback On HBONovember 20, 2014

Lisa Kudrow Makes Her Comeback On HBO

The Comeback (HBO)

On Demand Weekly provides new reviews of hot movies and shows on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: “The Comeback-Season 2.”

I had always heard good things about The Comback, but I didn’t have HBO, and it only lasted one season. When I heard it was worth resurrecting after nine years, I figured I better finally hop on it!

Last weekend I binged the whole first season of The Comeback in two days. My face, neck, and shoulders are sore from all the cringing, but it was so worth it!

 

The Comeback (HBO)


Poor Valerie Cherish. At one time she was the IT girl. She was the star of a sitcom, and everyone laughed and applauded with delight at her every utterance. Then it all went away. The sitcom was cancelled. She aged. In her head, she knows that is the way of the business we call show, but in her heart she can’t quite believe that it is all really gone. She fervently, desperately believes that if she just gets that one chance, she could have all that adoration back. She could be IT again.

That desperation leads her to a reality show deal with a network. As she hopes for a role in a sitcom, her reality show cameras watch every humiliating step of the way, from being cast as the older aunt in a hideous Golden Girls style sweat suit while a bunch of frisky twentysomethings gad about to the demeaning and disdainful treatment dished out by the writer, Pauly G.

 

The Comeback (HBO)

Lisa Kudrow is amazing. The way Valerie’s feelings travel across her face as she tries to control them is like watching a caught fish wriggling a foot or so beneath the water. When she hears something offensive or appalling, you can see her face register it, then she will laugh that awful nervous laugh, make a not-very-witty comment, and try desperately to keep a smile on her face and nod oh-so-enthusiastically. All the while you see the muscles under her facial skin tick and twitch as she tries to keep the happy look going.

It is sheer brilliance.

OLIVE KITTERIDGE - HBO DemandNovember 07, 2014

OLIVE KITTERIDGE - HBO Demand

OLIVE KITTERIDGE - HBO

On Demand Weekly provides new reviews of hot movies and shows on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: “OLIVE KITTERIDGE.”

Prickly as a hedgehog. Those are words you could use to describe Olive Kitteridge. Warm, fuzzy, likable are NOT. She is feisty, crabby and does not suffer fools (which she considers most people to be).Yet as played with fierce intelligence and indomitable will by the amazing Frances McDormand, you can understand why her husband adores her and her son admires her. With McDormand’s incandescent blue eyes, incredible cheekbones, and earthy New England accent, it’s as if Katharine Hepburn were playing the Henry Fonda part in ON GOLDEN POND.

It is difficult to be the smartest person in the room, depressing even. Perhaps that is why Olive thinks depression runs in her family. She thinks it’s good to be depressed as it is a sign of intelligence. She never stops to think about how her depression plays out as anger towards everyone in her path, damaging with a scornful look or scathing word.

 

Frances McDormand, Unknown, Richard Jenkins, OLIVE KITTERIDGE (HBO)



John Gallagher, Jr., is very good as the Kitteridge’s wounded but resilient son. Richard Jenkins is superb as Olive’s long-suffering husband, Henry, who remains...

 

...attracted to her intelligence

even as she uses it as a weapon against him.

 

He is not her intellectual equal, but he is a kind, generous, loving soul who rarely fights back. When he starts working with Denise Thibodeau (Zoe Kazan), her fragile, doe-like open heart is like refreshing spring water to poor Henry’s parched heart. Their relationship is lovely. It borders on sexual attraction, without ever crossing the line from safely chaste. It’s no wonder Olive bristles every time she sees that Denise gives Henry what she can’t: someone to take care of.

Olive has her own unrequited affair of the heart with the hard drinking, smoking, poetry-quoting, fellow teacher, Jim O’Casey, (Peter Mullan-excellent as usual) which comes to a tragic end when he teaches the ultimate lesson in why one shouldn’t drink and drive.

Full of such small, tragic moments, along with moments that should be happy but somehow aren’t, is the delicate tale of Olive Kitteridge: the story of a no nonsense woman living in a world that baffles even her sharp mind. She wants to feel a connection but has no idea how to give that part of her that allows that connection. And the not knowing frustrates her because it insults her intelligence. It is the rare person in her life that can call her on it. By the time that person comes in in the form of Bill Murray’s Jack Kennison, we can only hope that Olive is slightly ready to thaw.

 

Bill Murray, OLIVE KITTERIDGE (HBO)

THE OFFSEASON: KEVIN DURANTNovember 07, 2014

THE OFFSEASON: KEVIN DURANT

THE OFFSEASON: KEVIN DURANT (HBO)

Watching Kevin Durant play basketball is an experience. He can bring viewers through an entire range of emotion in just two hours. Happiness, excitement, awe, heartbreak, hope are the most common feelings that Durant inspires. And he does inspire.

At 6’11”, Durant is an anomaly. Nearly every other basketball player his size doesn’t dribble or take a jumpshot from further than 15 feet. But Durant has no limits on the court.

Durant, who is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation sports agency, teamed up with HBO Sports to produce THE OFFSEASON: KEVIN DURANT, a one-hour special detailing Durant’s summer.

The show starts off the day after Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated from the NBA playoffs on May 31. Durant, with his entourage of childhood and college friends, then packs up and moves to Beverly Hills, to work on his game for the summer.

 

KEVIN DURANT (HBO)


 This isn’t Durant’s first time getting into show business. He starred in THUNDERSTRUCK, a 2012 movie about a high school kid who stole Durant’s ability by touching the same basketball as Durant. James Belushi and Brandon T. Jackson costarred in that. The movie made less than $600,000.

He’s part of a long line of athletes getting into the entertainment business. These stars are trying to grow their brand, which means get in front of as many faces as possible. It’s rarely about the money for Durant, or fellow NBA superstars LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. They want exposure, during their playing careers. The more people that see them on the silver screen or in primetime, the better. That’s another signature shoe or jersey sold. 

 

Russell Westbrook, Unknown, KEVIN DURANT (HBO)

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