Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Film Review: Fed Up (2014)

You are what you eat.  That is the simple message from Stephanie Soechting’s new documentary about the food we produce / consume and the correlation with the ‘global obesity epidemic’ that we have been hearing for the last few decades.  Fed Up explores two parallel ideas: that the amount of sugar we ingest is more important than the levels of fat or calories (or even exercise); and that multinational food companies and corporate lobbyists have spent decades feeding us misinformation about how to live healthy lives and exploiting our ignorance for vast profits.

The film divides itself between the emotional personal journeys of a number of obese youngsters trying to lose weight, and more factual sections of historical and political analysis of the processed food industry and how it has gained such dominance in American culture. At certain points, watching Fed Up is worse than sitting through a horror film.  Horror films work by confronting characters with symbolic external threats (vampire; disaster; psychotic killers etc.), which make audiences empathise and reflect on their own axietites.  Fed Up makes you reflect about the long-term internal threat that audiences are doing to their own bodies by eating such dangerous levels of sugar.  The sugar in my tea suddenly felt obscene and frightening…. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Film Review: Next Goal Wins (2014)

Disclaimer alert: I have only recently become interested in football. Even worse, I'm one of those people who only cares about the World Cup and bugs my friends with recently learned opinions and shallow analysis. I also (like most casual sports fans) prefer an underdog over a dominating talented team - and there is no bigger underdog than the American Samoa football team... 

At the beginning of Next Goal Wins, the tiny pacific island of American Samoa have never won a official football match and are bottom of the FIFA ranking list. They also suffered the worst defeat in football history in 2001 by losing 31-0 to Australia. Yet, they are determined to prove themselves on the world stage, and with the help of despairing Dutch coach Thomas Rongen (the only applicant) they are training for gruelling qualifications to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Yet as a American Samoan official states early on  'When no-one thinks you're good. That's what makes you dangerous...'