Movie Monday – King Korn, Bad Teacher

King Korn has been on our Netflix queue for weeks, maybe even months. We finally got around to watching it this weekend. It is an interesting and subtle commentary on corn that covers some history on the evolution of corn, details the farming process, and investigates where it all goes. Did you know that the majority of corn produced is used for animal feed and for corn syrup/sweetener? Very little corn is actually edible in it’s natural form. These days it’s made to be processed into something else – other than an ear of corn on the cob.

None of this was a huge “ah-ha” moment or shocker revelation to us as we’ve watched a number of other documentaries (Food, Inc., FoodMatters, FatHead, Sugar: The Bitter Truth) that discussed high fructose corn syrup at one level or another. This film however was specifically focused on the influence of corn in America’s farming and agricultural industries and the prevalence of corn in the American marketplace. One farmer plainly comments during the film that they are creating “crap”; they aren’t farming like our grandfathers and great-grandfathers did. The industry has totally changed – and not in a good way in my opinion. Sure, we’ve found a way to mass produce a substance that enables us to produce processed foods on a massive scale, inexpensively. But at the cost of radically reducing the nutritional benefits of our foods. As the communities of primal, paleo, and the ancestral movement grow (and even vegetarians and vegans who share similar ideals about natural food sources) I hope our philosophies will merge and overtake the conventional philosophies currently driving the food production and distribution in this country. I’d like to see a movement to embrace grass-fed meats and organic vegetables on a much larger scale than what we see now.

One of the things I like about the film is that the filmmakers let the viewer draw a lot of their own conclusions by presenting images without commentary throughout the film. It was a little slow at times. Aside from that, I really enjoyed some of their film styles, particularly the time-lapse photography, and the beautiful landscape of Iowa. Anyone who is interested in learning a little more about what we are eating everyday and how it is affecting our health, I would recommend King Korn (and all the other documentaries I listed above.) I would encourage you to hang in past the slow moments; there are lots of good points worth watching for.

Hoping for some unadulterated entertainment we watched Bad Teacher last night. I was disappointed. There were a few laugh out loud moments that were not shown in the previews but not many. I really thought the story had potential and I have been eager to watch it for weeks. And now I feel totally cheated of the time I spent watching it. I think that if the writers had spent some time developing the teacher character then perhaps the story would have had more depth and believability.  But they didn’t offer anything to explain why she was such a horrible person, where she went to school, why she would even have a teaching certificate…basically no background at all, other than her singular drive to marry for money. Why would a person like that even be qualified to teach? It just doesn’t make sense without more to go on. Also, why doesn’t this person have any friends? I mean, besides the overt horrible personality. Even some of your worst characters still have that one friend who has known them since high school or college or a previous workplace, who appreciates some spark of humanity buried beneath all the crap. Bad Teacher might play out better as a book where, as a reader, you could be privy to the character’s inner conflict, motivations, and of course, more background. Hopefully Bridesmaids doesn’t turn out to be a dud as well. (I still have yet to see it and have hope for some good laughs, but I know there are mixed reviews on that as well.)

Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.
~ Martin Scorsese


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