Sunday, April 27, 2008

MOVIE: KING CORN


ABOUT: King Corn is a feature documentary film released in October 2007 following college friends Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis as they move to Greene, Iowa to grow and farm an acre of corn. In the process, Cheney and Ellis examine the role that the increasing production of corn has for American society.

The film shows how the industrialization of corn has all but eliminated the family farm. In addition, by producing high fructose corn syrup, the processing of corn has an adverse impact on the health of America. The two return to the same small town that was coincidentally home to both of their great-grandfathers.


REVIEW: Corn is in almost everything that we eat and drink, right down to the steak on your plate. Since I'm a vegetarian I don't have to worry about the stake but that doesn't mean that I don't eat junk food and drink soda from time to time, which all probably has corn in it. As you may or may not know, corn is bad for you.

King Corn tries to tell us this but like most independent documentaries, the subject is better than the film. Two out of the three directors of the movie use the Michael Moore style and insert themselves into the film. They decided to plant their own acre of corn, just to see how it grows I guess, but this serves nothing to the film. They spend more than half the film talking about their acre of corn and their family ancestors that grew up in the small town where they are growing the corn. For me, that was half the film too long.

I wanted to know more about the effects that the corn was having on society. Like the cab driver who lost a lot of weight but was still diagnosed with diabetes. Interviews with bigwigs at cattle and corn companies come across like an orientation video for their employees. Instead of asking the obvious or tough questions they just sit there and make sure that they are on camera just as much as the person they are interviewing, if you can call it that.

For instance, they get an interview with Earl Butz who was the Secretary of Agriculture from 1971 to 1976. He is talked about throughout the film as the man who introduced policies that made big farms get bigger and smaller farms get smaller, which is one of the reasons why we rely so much on the corn because it makes our food that we buy the cheapest it's ever been. With the interview they have a great opportunity to ask him questions we are all thinking. But they don't! I don't even think they ask him about corn. They just sit there and listen to him talk about how things were different when he was a little boy.


King Corn is not a good film. But I am recommending it anyway because still not many people know about the corn and this is the only film that I know of so far that tries to tell us about it. Hopefully we will get a more informative one in the near future. With better interviews too!



BOTTOM LINE: WATCH IT!


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