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“Ninety-five percent of what Americans eat, you can’t pronounce and you can’t make it in your kitchen,” observes Joel Salatin. The owner of Polyface Farms, Salatin repeats in Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms what he’s said elsewhere—in his books and in the movies Fresh and Food, Inc.—namely, that the US government’s efforts to regulate small farmers’ food production are not just misbegotten, but also dangerous. With Farmageddon, first time filmmaker Kristin Canty brings more evidence to bear, in the stories of farmers who have been harassed by federal and local agencies (the FBI, the USDA, and the FDA, as well as assorted sheriffs’ departments). Linked through their handling by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s D. Gary Cox, these cases include unannounced raids, inspections that turn into seizures, sheep killing, and, in the case of Jackie Stowers (owner of a private food co-op), the armed invasion of the farmhouse she shares with 10 kids and her husband.
As Gil Guillory sees it, his career is an extension of human history. A former fighter, he now runs USA-MMA, promoting mixed martial arts bouts in Lafayette, Louisiana. “There’s something about beating another man into submission that the world is attracted to,” he says, while you watch a few fighters bouncing on the balls of their feet, shadowboxing and kicking. A percussive beat on the soundtrack punctuates their movements. Framed by doorways and silhouetted, they’re poetic here, at the start of Fightville. They’re also products—of their own lives, of a culture committed to particular masculine and also commercial ideals. “By nature, [man’s] a warrior,” Guillory goes on, “So when you say ‘fight,’ everyone is gonna turn and look.” In his world (the one “attracted to” cage fighting), selling that entertainment is as important as providing it, the show and the look work together. Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s new documentary—which opens 20 April in New York and LA, as well as on iTunes and VOD—considers the effects of this apparent shift—from fighting as primal contest to spectacle for paying consumers—a shift that depends equally on that fighting’s brutality and its poetry.
See PopMatters’ review.
While the easiest way to describe Chicago’s Cains & Abels is to call ‘em a ‘70s folk-rock revival act, there’s something more contemporary to their music than that tag captures. Certainly, mainman David Sampson’s handiwork has an affinity for singer-songwriters of yesteryear, but the Cains & Abels sound has a current feel to it. PopMatters is premiering the video for the band’s single “Stay Home Tonight” from their recently released album My Life Is Easy, and it’s hard not to notice how its poignant twang, touches of reverb, and off-kilter vocals recall a more contemplative version of an early Band of Horses song.
Cains & Abels will be releasing a limited edition 7” single of “Stay Home Tonight” this Saturday, April 21, exclusively for Record Store Day, which they are marking with an in-store performance at Chicago’s Saki Store (Carrot Top Distribution). The 7” features the title track A-side and a rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Turn on Your Radio” on the flip side.
“I’m sick and tired of worrying about gas prices every six months, I’m sick and tired of these failed wars in the Middle East,” says Gavin Newsom. “I’m sick and tired of breathing the air that we’re breathing.” One of the several celebrity talking heads in Revenge of the Electric Car, Chris Paine’s follow-up to Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006), the California Lieutenant Governor lays out the most obvious reasons electric cars are a good idea. Taking such rationale as pretty much self-evident (Danny DeVito on his now-extinct EV1: “I wasn’t gunking up the air, it was a fantastic ride”), the new documentary follows independent entrepreneurs like Gadget Abbott (who refits a gas-fueled Triumph Spitfire and a GT6 to take electricity) and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (whom Jon Favreau describes as “The closest you’re going to get in real life to Tony Stark”), as well as mainstream bosses like GM’s Bob Lutz (who presses for the Chevy Volt) and Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn (the Leaf). They all want to make the world better and also make money. Narrator Tim Robbins introduces turns in the story with colorful, if simplifying, phrases (“Elon’s coup was just what Bob needed to drag GM back into the race”), and the film briefly recalls the 2008 auto hearings (with a shot of a corporate jet to emphasize the Big Three automakers’ tone-deafness) as well as the subsequent bailout. These efforts to bring back electric cars help to structure a seemingly linear adventure, as the documentary accepts and even celebrates the ways that money drives the process of revolution. Where the first film railed against conspiring corporations and government, this one insists they need to be part of the solution.
Revenge of the Electric Car premieres this week on Independent Lens.