Food Fight Directed by: Chris Taylor Cast: Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Wolfgang Puck Running Time: 1 hr 25 min Rating: Unrated Where: Hollywood Theatre - Portland, OR
Plot: A documentary about the movement away from processed food and toward organic in the United States.
Who’s It For? Do you like food? Do you like hearing people talk about what makes food good? Ask yourself this before going.
Expectations: Something along the lines of Supersize Me. The possibility that I might not want to eat anything that I hadn't grown myself ever again.
Michael Pollan: He wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, so he's basically a rockstar in the foodie lit world. He's a talking head in this film, adding tidbits about how food processing has changed over the last 80 years. For someone with so much information, he's not around very long. Score: 6
Alice Waters: She also functions as a talking head, despite large sections of the film being about her and her work. She started Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Berkeley, and gets credit for the creation of "California Cuisine." The film lavishly credits her with singlehandedly starting a foodie revolution. They devote a large portion of the film to Wolfgang Puck and Waters and the notion of California Cuisine. She's engaging, but I didn't get why they seemed so enthralled with her. Score: 6
Talking: The interviewees are all well-spoken. At the beginning, the voice-over manages to be informative and move at a good clip. Then it slows down and we get bogged down with lot of talk that doesn't go anywhere. It's not badly written, there's just too much of it. Score: 6
Sights: The farmer's markets are alive with color. Every tomato and strawberry looks gorgeous. The talking head shots get a little dull though. They're composed nicely, just kind of far away. I love a good close up. Score: 7
Sounds: This isn't a silent film but for the life of me I don't know what it was trying here. There was music under the voice over, I know that, but I remember none of that. I'm going to take that as a bad sign. Score: 3
Best Scene: One of the film's last segments shows a community garden in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that's attempting to offer fresh produce to inner city families. They grew so much food on so little space! I would have liked more about that.
Ending: The film ends by telling us how to save the world. Basically, think where your food's coming from. But it seemed to take a really long time to get to a fairly simple point.
Questions: Without California or Alice Waters, would it have occurred to anyone to eat local food? Ever?
Rewatchability: Segments are informative and worth watching, but overall it would be kind of a slog to see the whole thing over again.
Food Fight begins with a totally informative and interesting story about how the great depression and government subsidies changed the way Americans ate in the first half of the 20th century. Then we move into counter-cultural movements, offshoots of the '60s protests that popularized the idea of whole foods and moving back to the land. But the section on California Cuisine goes on far too long with too little information disseminated. The film loses it's focus and takes awhile to come back to it. Worse, when we get to the sections about California Cuisine, I can't help thinking that I just couldn't afford any of it, so I don't care. I'm more interested in the original thesis, how did ordinary people change the way they ate. Ordinary people don't eat at Spago. Though that weird salmon/caviar pizza did look good. Bottom line, the film doesn't work as a cohesive whole.
Final Score: 5/10