Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Post of 2007


I just wanted to thank everyone who comes around here and reads this drivel.

This is my last post of 2007 and I don't even really have time for it. We have a number of festival submissions going out, not just for Killer At Large, too. Jitterbug (a short film we're producers on) is going out as well.

As soon as I can say more about that, I'll be sure to.

So....

Happy New Year.

Look for big things in the year to come.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

AvP: Requiem


On Christmas night, the inner nerd in me decided I just had to see Alien Versus Predator: Requiem.

Sometimes, I feel like I want to strangle my inner-nerd.

This film was so bad I couldn't believe it. I knew the first one was terrible. The first one was beyond terrible, but I figured how could this one be any worse? Well, it might not be worse, but it certainly isn't any better.

The film opens where the first left off, ending with Aliens and face-huggers getting let loose in Colorado and then cuts to a Predator living room, where he watches everything we just saw, but with a different filter. And, for some inexplicable reason, he decides that he has to go to Earth and singlehandedly clean up this mess.

Why? I don't know. He only speaks in purrs and clicks.

Interspersed with this interstellar janitor are scenes of personal strife in a small Colorado town. None of these characters are believable, likable or even acted with any naturalism. The writing and pacing felt like they were going for a ham-fisted, teenage version of Robert Altman's masterpiece "Short Cuts". It just comes off as stupid.

It's startling to me how Fox seems to be trying to abort these franchises as quickly as they can. They hired people who didn't know about, care for or love either franchise. They had as little understanding as Paul W.S. Anderson had for the first AvP movie. At least, though, you could tell that they'd watched the other films in the franchises. But that served as a detriment since they aped most of the cool shots they could think of without any of the context, build up or suspense. The Brothers Strause should probably be drawn and quartered for this abortion.

For instance, remember the moment in Alien 3 when the Aliens are sniffing out Ripley and her head is turned and they won't do anything to her because they know the Queen is in her? The moment had a tensity and drama to it that is unrivaled. They redid the series of shots in AvP:R for no apparent reason with a waitress whom we don't know or care about. Why? Because it looked cool. And that handful of shots in Alien 3 had more drama, fear and depth to it than five AvP movies combined could ever hope to have.

That example fairly sums up the entire AvP world. It's all the flashy visuals and NONE of the substance of the original materials.

I wish someone would pay Elias and I to write an AvP movie. We could remind people why Aliens and Predator movies are great. At the same time we can remind everyone that the Aliens movies happen hundreds of years in the future and not fashion our movie like a shitty zombie-picture, but with Aliens and Predators instead of zombies. It wasn't even an ape of a good zombie movie. None of the events made any sense or had any relevance and they fill you with such an ambivalence toward the characters, you're simply counting the minutes until the movie ends so you can just go home and forget what you've seen.

And to add insult to injury, they named one of the main characters Dallas. Who the hell do these assholes think they are? What makes them think they could take Tom Skerrits name from the first film as an homage? Were they even aware of the similarity? Who knows...

Overall, I would rate this movie a chilly <-10> out of 10. It's pretty fucking bad.

Benazir Bhutto Assasinated....


I wrote a piece that was featured on the front page of Huffington Post about it.

In it, I ask whether or not our political candidates would have the fortitude to run for office in the sort of conditions she was brave enough to face.

Read it and then come back here and let we'll discuss it....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday, however they choose to celebrate it.

And I hope that not everyone is driven up the wall by having to see family members they'd rather not.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sweeney Todd


I've seen this film twice now and I have to say that this is an incredibly entertaining film. It's also, quite possibly, the most romantic, bloody slasher film to ever be filmed on screen. It's so much like a distorted, gruesome Romeo and Juliet tale than I would have ever guessed or imagined.

I wasn't familiar with the play beyond the one scene in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl and so the intricate ins, outs and what-have-yous of the film left me feeling quite satisfied. In fact, upon my second viewing, it's quite satisfying to see how carefully each scene leads so logically and perfectly into the next.

It was odd, while watching the film, you realize how perfectly suited to this project Tim Burton's sense of style, camera and direction fit. And the cast is perfect in every case (including Sacha Baron Cohen in a well-sung turn as Adolfo Pirelli).

And the Sondheim music is so rich and evokes as much an opera feel as Bernard Herrman's score for Psycho and blends them with a skill for lyrics the world doesn't often see.

I'm really marveling at just how God-damned entertaining this film was, despite it's absolute bloodiness.

And despite the bloodiness, I'm wondering why it's rated R. I think it should be a PG-13. 13 year old kids are more than capable of handling this movie. My 26 year old sister took our 12 year old sister and her friend to see the film (and they're generally wusses about things like this) and they loved the film and won't cease their endless singing of the soundtrack. (The soundtrack is, however, that infectious.... I caught myself singing Pirelli's shaving song this morning while I was shaving... I couldn't help it, it just started coming out....)

I'm curious about why critics are saying it's Burton's best film since Ed Wood, too. I think they're forgetting about Big Fish (which was as good as this, in my opinion.)

For a slasher picture, it was just terribly charming and I would recommend it to anybody who is a fan of musicals, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp or just plain old good movies. I'll be surprised if this film doesn't make a whole pile of money. (In fact, I'm actually shocked that this film only opened at #5 at the Box Office this weekend and it deserved to break at least 10 million.... Honestly.....)

And I'm glad that musicals are facing a resurgence in film. Granted, I don't like most of those that come out, but it's good to see audiences able to take Musicals seriously in this day and age.

So, go see this movie. And then you'll probably end up buying the soundtrack. I know Amberley insisted on buying it first thing yesterday morning after the first time we saw the film.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Margot at the Wedding


Last night we went out and hit a double header last night and started with Noah Baumbach's follow-up to "The Squid and the Whale".

As I left the film, I felt that it was pretty good, though not as great as "The Squid and the Whale".

"Margot at the Wedding" focuses on a specific familial breakdown in a mildly comedic way in much the same manner as Woody Allen's chamber pieces like "September", "Another Woman" and "Interiors". The more I discuss this film, the more I feel like it really stacks up against these Allen pictures. I've, for a long time, felt that Baumbach is the heir apparent in that genre of Allen picture, and I think this solidifies that theory.

I don't think he's as good as Woody Allen at it yet, but, who knows? he could get there.

The familial breakdown examined in this film revolves around Pauline's (Jennifer Jason Leigh) small wedding at the family house to lovable goof-ball Malcolm (Jack Black). Problems arise when her truly terribly sister, Margot arrives. Not only has she left her husband (played wonderfully by John Turturro as the most sympathetic least flawed character in the film) she works her hardest to disrupt everyones lives as much as possible. Really, that's the setup for the film.

And it works. The only problem with Noah Baumbach's film is that the humor and character interaction is so subtle it works on you on an almost timed delay. After we'd watched the second film of the night (Sweeney Todd, look for a review later today) and discussed it for a full twenty minutes, the conversation came back to Margot for the rest of the night. It provided such a subtle, interesting window into these characters that it gnawed on me for a while and I find myself still thinking about it.

Which is odd since my initial reaction to the film was that it was merely "pretty good." Maybe I'll have to watch it again to really sink my teeth into it one way or the other.

And it had the exact same ending as Darjeeling Limited, which was a little weird (literally dropping her baggage and running onto a moving mass transit vehicle...)

But, overall, this movie was entertaining and pretty good and the more you think about it, the better it gets.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

JUNO

I saw "Juno" tonight and it was a 10 out of 10 film.

It was masterful in both writing and performance.

It's one of the best film's I've seen this year.

The End.

Juno


I got tickets to an advanced screening of Juno and so I went and saw it.

This movie wasn't bad. I don't think it's a masterpiece (or even worth my time to watch a second time) but it was okay. It was mildly funny, had a modest amount of heart and was populated by generally attractive or funny people.

I'm fairly lukewarm about it.

Like I said, I don't really ever need to see it again, now that I've seen it once. It's competently put together, the script is fine (if not a bit cookie-cutter in places) and the acting is all good.

Generally, this was a good movie. I don't have really anything negative to say about it other than it just didn't float my boat as well as others. And I don't think it was laugh out loud funny either. One or two jokes maybe got me, but the rest of it just seemed too clever to laugh at.

I guess, you'd do worse than seeing this movie, but with the batch of films coming out this week, I'm not sure why you'd want to. (You've got Sweeney Todd and Margot at the Wedding on Friday... I'm told Charlie Wilson's War, too.)

So... There you have it... Juno wasn't terrible and probably worth watching once, but not a masterpiece. And as far as Jason Reitman goes, I'd have to say that I thought Thank You For Smoking was a much funnier film (I think Juno is more well rounded, but Smoking was certainly funnier.)

I'm not sure if any of this made sense, but I'm out of here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Must See TV

I'm not one for watching a lot of TV shows, on DVD or otherwise. There's a few I've wanted to watch but haven't had a chance to (Entourage, Sopranos), some I've watched and really want to buy (Extras, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Twilight Zone) and some I can't live without (Futurama, Simpsons, Robotech, Twin Peaks).

But there are two that I've been addicted to in recent weeks.


The first is the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles...

I've been watching a couple of episodes a week with my kids and it has been great fun. And it's not just a fun show to watch, but the documentaries they put together for the DVDs are top notch.

I'm also struck by the painstaking level of detail and research that went into to fashioning these adventures. And it's fun to see Indy run into notable historical figures episode after episode. Highlights so far include Max Von Sydow as Sigmund Freud and James Gammon as Teddy Roosevelt. (I'm more excited for other guest stars who seem now to be a veritable who's who of kick-ass talent: Daniel Craig, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Christopher Lee, Jeffrey Wright, Keith David, Lukas Haas and Ian McDiarmid.)

Add to that the stable of writers and directors that include Frank Darabont, Monty Python's Terry Jones, Mike "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" Newell, Jonathan Hales and others and you've got a dynamite team working on your series.

And above all, it's fun.

So, I would recommend the hell out of these for people. Particularly if you like Indiana Jones, but especially if you fancy yourself as any sort of person interested in history.


The other show I've been watching (after the kids go to bed) has been Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

I've just finished watching the first season and it's like a breath of fresh air. Each compact 25 minute episode is an interesting and often times nerve-wracking experience. And the guest stars on this show complement it to no end. Episodes I particularly enjoyed featured Vera Miles, Joseph Cotten, Claude Rains, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Charles Bronson, Cloris Leachman and Darin McGavin. This is the precursor to shows like "The Twilight Zone" and "Tales From the Crypt" and it might even be superior. And the fact that Hitchcock supervised all the episodes and personally directed 17 of them makes it all the more special.

TV shows nowadays are all about all the different things we do to catch murderers, but why can't shows be like this? Like every day, average ordinary people planning murders? It's so much more entertaining. Like, for instance, the first episode is about a guy who wants to kill a traveling salesman who raped his wife. And the episode where John Williams kills his wife just before they go on an extended trip to America. Another great episode had Cedric Hardwicke trying to cover up a murder on behalf of his daughter because she beat a man with a croquet mallet and the family name couldn't bear to handle any shame. But things always unravel on them in the end....

TV should take a turn back to that route. Orwell wrote of the decline of the English murder and tt seems like we've had our own decline in the states and it's just too bad....

I suppose my point is that these shows are at the very least 100% better than 99.9% of the crap on television right now and you need to check them out.

Like, right now....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Am Legend and *gulp* Alvin and the Chipmunks

I had an interesting couple of days of film watching this weekend and I can't think of two more different films to be talking about in the same post. But, let's take things chronologically and start with I Am Legend.


I had little interest in seeing I Am Legend opening weekend. It was something that looked like it could have been kind of cool, but something to see opening weekend? I didn't think so. What drove me to the theatre was the six minutes of Dark Knight prelude footage in IMAX. I've never seen a film in IMAX before and I decided what better time to try it out.

The problem with IMAX theatres is that they're invariably located in the most obnoxious multiplexes on Earth. They should set a cap of four screens to any single movie theatre location and one screen if it's an IMAX. Perhaps movie theatres would once again have personality. And perhaps they wouldn't make one feel as though he's in a goddamned circus.

I thought the footage from The Dark Knight was breathtaking. If this was nothing more than a pitch to go see the film in IMAX, it worked. There was a shot of two Jokers rappelling onto the roof of a fifteen story bank and my heart literally jumped as I thought I was falling. It really did blow my mind. The Dark Knight is in capable hands and I think Heath Ledger is going to pull of the Joker well.

Now, to I Am Legend. A lot of people are going to talk about the special effects in this film. The task of depopulating Manhattan for three years and actually filming it is nothing short of breathtaking. These are the sorts of special effects that you take for granted and almost don't notice and only later do you think about it and say, "How the shit did they pull that off?"

But pull it off, they did.

But the real special effect in this picture is Will Smith. I can't believe how well he knocked this out of the park. He carried this movie single-handedly on his shoulders and actually injected it with so much emotion that I was getting choked up during parts of it. There's a scene of him in the video store talking to a female mannequin that almost makes you want to cry. Seriously, he's that good in this picture.

The film has some problems, but it's too short to dwell on them. It comes to a logical conclusion very quickly and then ends within three minutes of that. I respect and admire that. The film comes in, tells you it's story in a tight 95 some odd minutes and then gets the hell out.

**SPOILER WARNING**
I also love the fact that they had the balls to actually kill Will Smith at the end. Hollywood movies don't dare enough to kill their heroes anymore and this was refreshing.
**SPOILERS OVER**

But, since the time investment for this movie isn't that much and it has genuine, scary and thrilling moments in a tight, competently put together style of filmmaking, it's worth your money to go see. I would also recommend the IMAX experience for it. I've never seen a clearer, bigger picture on a big screen. 70mm film is better than digital at this point, I would have to say.

And now to the second film of the weekend:

Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I was dragged to see this because my kids were begging me to take them and I figured why the hell not? I used to like the Chipmunks as a kid (in fact, The Chipmunk Adventure was on my heavy rotation list as a kid for a very long time) and I figured it couldn't be worse than Garfield.

Indeed it was not. It's not a good movie, but if you have to see something with your kids, this won't get on your nerves too bad and you'll actually chuckle quite a bit. And my kids and nephew were literally on the floor laughing through most of the film.

And the human actors in it (Jason Lee and David Cross) are two of the most entertaining actors in the business, so they were certainly at least mildly entertaining to watch in this fairly standard kids movie.

It had all the beats you'd expect with no real surprises. David Seville (Lee) is a struggling musician who finds the Chipmunks and the songs he writes for them (classic Chipmunks tunes) propel them quickly into stardom. David Cross is the evil manager who overworks them and cuts David out of the picture and they all have to learn what being a family is all about. It did seem to borrow from old Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons though, I don't know if that's good or not. But I don't know how many Chip and Dale cartoons started with someone uprooting their tree and making them fish out of water. And who could forget the WB frog being unable to perform in front of anyone but the guy who wanted to get rich of him, which are both pretty big plot points in the film. But it was fine, I guess...

The only thing I couldn't figure out is why they paid people like Justin Long to voice the Chipmunks. With the processing of the voices, it seems like they could have saved money to have just about anyone do it.

With the box office for the opening weekend, we should all expect to see a sequel to this movie and it could be entertaining to see it more along the lines of the Chipmunk Adventure.

Bottom Line: If your kids are going to drag you to a kids movie, you could do lots worse.

Friday, December 14, 2007

East Bay Express mention

The East Bay Express ran a piece about the links between obesity and global warming and how it all relates to our film Killer at Large.

The Headline?

Are Your Love Handles Contributing to Global Warming?

Read it here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

McDonalds Fries


We had to do some B-roll product shots of some super-sized McDonalds meals for "Killer At Large" today. I haven't had any French Fries to speak of in just under a year and so I decided I'd give 'em a shot before we threw them away.

Honest to God, I still feel queasy. And my tongue feels like it's been coated in a plastic/grease lacquer.

Then I found out what little I had was over 500 calories.

Jesus.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Summer '08


I just wanted to let everyone know how much better this crop of summer movies is going to be than last year.

You've got Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Wall-E to start with. Those are the major tentpoles.

But there's a whole slew of other stuff that's probably going to be rad: Prince Caspian (check out the trailer here, it looks great), The Incredible Hulk, Valkyrie, Hellboy 2 and X-Files 2 (for Steve).

Then there's a whole batch of stuff that might be okay, like Pineapple Express, Horton Hears a Who, Kung Fu Panda and Drillbit Taylor.

It just looks like the summer movie season will the best we've had since 2005. And I don't need to remind everyone what came out in May of '05, which by itself made the entire summer awesome...

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up of what we're in store for.

Monday, December 10, 2007


'nuff said.

Solo Con Tu Pareja and Across the Universe

I watched two drastically different movies today, it being my one day off and all. And when I mean drastically different films, I mean I watched two films as different as about anything you can imagine.

Both were based on recommendations by people at the office.


The first was Alfonso Cuaron's first feature length effort, Solo con tu pareja. Patrick loaned it to me with his highest recommendation. You don't need much higher a recommendation for than the fact that Cuaron directed it, but I'd never even heard of this film.

This was an incredibly charming comedy with the most outlandish dramatic premise that I can think of. The film revolves around Tomas Tomas, a veritable Don Juan who simultaneously falls deeply in love with his one true soul mate and learns that he is HIV positive. Sounds like a comedy, doesn't it?

The climax revolves around them both vowing to commit suicide, her because her fiancee is cheating on her, him because his swaggering days are numbered.

The problem is that he doesn't really have HIV. The nurse in charge of his paperwork played a cruel prank on him for sleeping with her and another woman on the same night and morning.

It reminded me of the screwball sorts of Howard Hawks kind of comedies that I'm quite fond of but in the hands of a director like Cuaron.

So, I would offer this film quite a high recommendation for anyone who enjoys Alfonso Cuaron (which should be all of you.)


This film was recommended to me by Matt the intern and I'd had a passing interest in seeing it anyway.

Julie Taymor. Okay. Beatles songs. Cool. Love Story. Sure. It seemed like all the pieces would be there. You'd like to think all the pieces would be there, wouldn't you?

Let me describe the movie to you: Take Moulin Rouge minus the heart add it to Rent (with all of it's shittiness) and throw in Buzby Berkeley numbers without any heart, imagination or soul. Now you might start getting an idea as of to what this picture looks like. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be "catastrophe."

My brother described it thusly, "It's like you're trying to play tether ball, but the ball is attached to Alf and you're trying to hit the ball with a cat. It just doesn't work."

I wanted to like it. I like sappy love stories as much as the next guy, but this one was totally devoid of heart or emotion. It felt like Taymor relied on any personal feelings you'd bring to the table with the music already set in place and made a conscious effort to leave anything else out.

The story was all over the place, what little emotion was there was scattered like a roller coaster, but not the good kind of roller coaster that rises to a point and lets you go, this was one of those little kid roller coaster that's just three or four little peaks and valleys on a continuous loop. The script was just truly bad. It's almost as though a studio executive sat down with a script and said, "Well, we've got a terrible script, what do we do to fix it?"

Then his yes-man responds, "You who what isn't terrible? The Beatles."

And the studio executive replies, "Perfect. We'll put 'em together and see what happens. Get me Julie Taymor."

And then, for some reason, they decided to do away with subtlety for the purpose of the motion picture. There's a lesbian girl who literally won't come out of the closet. A group of drafted soldiers storm a model of Vietnam with the Statue of Liberty as a battering ram and all end up as wounded veterans. Just before breaking out into "Strawberry Fields Forever," we cut to a shot of....you guessed it...strawberries... And Bono.... Jesus... Bono....

It was just not good. And at 133 minutes, I can't imagine it being worth anyone's time. And I'm a fan of the Beatles and I don't feel like it was worth my time even for that. Sorry Matt the intern, I just really didn't like it.

At all.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wayne Foundation Charity Auction

Anybody know what the hell these are about? I took these downtown today.

Air America San Francisco

Steve was on "Progressive News" with John Scott yesterday.

They spoke about the film and No Child Left Behinds impact on the childhood obesity epidemic.

Click here to listen to it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

KSL News Coverage


KSL News Radio did a piece about the film.

You can listen to it here.


That's seriously the picture of us they used on their site.

We've been doing more and more press as of late and another sizable batch of press releases have gone out in the last couple of days, so I would check back here more frequently for updates about the film.

Front Paged

The Deseret Morning News ran a front page piece about the film and our conclusions about how the "No Child Left Behind Policy" is contributing to obesity.

You can read the full piece here.


I love how people accuse us of being propagandists without having seen the film. The reporter saw quite a bit of it and seem convinced enough to write the article. And her editors were convinced enough to put it on the front page.

And let's be honest, it's not like the Deseret Morning News is some liberal cheer rag....

Also we put up our new press kit for the film.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007



Just an FYI... Image's Popgun Anthology (of which contains a story Elias and I worked on and Derek drew) was released last week.

You can get it from any reliable comic book store. Barnes and Noble and Borders haven't stocked them yet and Amazon isn't filling orders yet so there's still time to get the pre-order price.

So...

Yeah.

I've been reading the stories inside the book and I have to say that I'm glad I bought it. It's got a lot of really great material in there and the art for a lot of it is simply stunning. It's like the editors have brought back the short story (which has been seemingly dead for some time) and resurrected it in the graphic form.

Even if I had nothing to do with this book, I'd still highly recommend it to all of you.

(Also, if you look real hard, you'll find Gamma Rae on the cover there, rendered by Mike Allred himself.)

Website Updates

Our website is in dire need of an overhaul, but in the meantime we still need to put some vital info up there.

We've added a production interview.

Check it out.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Larry Craig's Sweet Tooth


Everyone knows that Larry Craig is having problems right now with more gay men stepping forward with accounts of having had sex with the embattled Republican, family-values Senator. And although it's disgusting that a man with homosexual tendencies like Craig would vote in ways inconsistent with his sexual deviancy, there's an issue even more troublesome from his past that we've uncovered documents for and will appear in "Killer at Large".

This story was reported in the Washington Post back in April 2003 but it seems as though the story has been all but forgotten. It does, however, highlight the need for meaningful campaign finance reform laws and the need to oust corporate shills and hypocrites like Craig from office.

In 2003, the World Health Organization had drafted a report entitled "WHO Technical Report Series 916 Diet, Nutrition and The Prevention of Chronic Diseases." In this innocuous report, WHO scientists agreed that a suggested limit of 10% of your daily caloric intake from sugar in order to help keep your weight down and your body healthy. The Sugar Association (one of the largest agricultural lobbying entities in Washington) went into overdrive, doing everything they could think of to suppress what should have been a fairly routine recommendation.

First, they began drafting letters to the head of the WHO that demanded they cease working on the report and that if the report went any further forward, they would lobby their friends in the Congress to shut down any funding from the United States.

Things quickly escalated and they called the co-chair of the US Senate Sweetener Caucus, our very own airport-bathroom-prowling Larry Craig. (Can you believe they actually have a Sweetener Caucus?!) Very quickly he (and fellow co-chair John Breaux (D-LA)) drafted a letter on behalf of the Sugar Association to HHS head Tommy Thompson and USDA head Ann Veneman that called in to question the scientific preponderance of the recommendation that you should eat less sugar.

Although anyone with half a brain can tell you that you shouldn't eat too much sugar, Craig and his cohorts at the Sugar Association insisted that there was no scientific evidence to support claims that eating less sugar would be healthy.

More threats to cut off funding to the WHO were made.

Soon, the pressure mounted and the WHO ended up jettisoning the report in fear that their efforts to contain the SARS epidemic might be hampered by a loss of funding.

So, we have Larry Craig partially to blame for that.

I, for one, don't think that the 10% recommendation would have been all that effective at anything except as a symbolic first step toward conquering the obesity epidemic and the role sugar plays in the problem. But seeing this whole report discarded because of lobbyist and congressional pressure in the face of an epidemic as serious as SARS is quite disappointing to me.

We could add this to the list of reasons we need Larry Craig out of the Senate.

In the meantime, want to see the letter he signed to Tommy Thompson and Ann Veneman?

Farm Bill 2007: Get Your Hands Dirty

Due to the stalling tactics of Senate Republicans, the 2007 Senate Farm Bill is languishing on the Senate floor. The Democrats have offered a bi-partisan version of the bill that has large agri-business firms and Republicans worried. It makes some limits (by no means enough limits, but some) on the amount of subsidies available for crops like corn, soybeans and wheat.

The fact of the matter is that it doesn't make sense for the government to be subsidizing crops we already make too much of. We have far too much corn, for example, and since we have so much it is processed into foods that make us both sick and fat. "Why is that twinkie cheaper than a root you pull out of the ground like a carrot?" Michael Pollan asked us when we interviewed him for our film.

The simple answer is subsidies from the farm bill. Why aren't we subsidizing the production of fruits and vegetables that don't require massive amounts of processing? An easy way to find the answer to that is to find out who profits and who uses those profits to buy elected officials. Companies like Kraft, General Mills, Pepsi and McDonalds can be found regularly in the halls of the House and Senate. (In fact, we even did a hidden camera interview with a Corporate Vice President of McDonalds…)

The Farm Bill doesn't just inform how much of which crops (or wrong crops) are grown for the purpose of junk food processing. It also informs what food our children eat at school.

Why is it, do you think, that the school lunch menus are filled with pizza, corn dogs and nachos? It's obviously not because these foods are nutritionally sound for our children. It's because there are such places as the National Frozen Pizza Institute or the Grocery Manufacturers Association who ensure that the nutritional standards for our children are so low that frosted pink cookies and ice cream ala carte qualify as part of a balanced lunch in our school cafeterias. And not only do taxpayers subsidize the production of the crops that make up the components of the pizza, taxpayers subsidize the manufacturing of it and then buy it and give it to our nations children.

The Farm Bill also sets the standard in nutrition for social welfare programs like WIC and Food Stamps. The way that the program is set up, it offers little to no incentive for healthy eating. It merely offers a meager dollar amount and tells those in need to figure out what to eat. Unfortunately, because of the subsidies of the Farm Bill the unhealthiest calories are the cheapest.

In their stalling, though, Senate Republicans have given us an opportunity to call and write our elected officials on both sides of the aisle and let them know that we want the Farm Bill to address these problems and that the needs of the people are, in fact, more important than the needs of industries and large farming conglomerates.

Subsidies should be going to local, organic farmers who need a hand through harsh winters, not giant farming conglomerates.

Nutrition standards in schools need to be established in a vacuum away from agricultural interests.

Food Stamps should be reorganized to offer more money for fresh fruits and vegetables and less on frozen or processed foods.

I don't have all the answers, but we should view this stalling as an opportunity to offer our input to fix a seriously flawed and broken system for the next five years when the Farm Bill is once more up for renewal.