Who's in It:
Cows, pigs, chickens, fish and some apples. Also some guys who work in greenhouses and salt mines.
The Basics: If you eat food, you need to get yourself to this movie. It's a documentary about how all the things you eat plants and animals are handled by about two dozen freaky-looking machines before they ever even hit the supermarket, and it's the best film I've seen in months. Some of it's incredibly gross, of course (howdy, slaughterhouse!), but some of it is just really beautiful and fascinating. If you never thought you could be mesmerized by the sight of apples being washed in automated, metal water canals, then this is for you. It's like 90 minutes of watching that old "Let's Go to the Crayon Factory" clip they used to show on Sesame Street.
What's the Deal? There's no narration, no commentary, no explanations, no interviews, no food-processing employees offering dumb observations about how soul-crushing their jobs are. It's just scene after scene of mind-blowing images, all composed like cool, detached art-photography, as though suddenly Matthew Barney decided to make a movie about corporate farming. And that's the main reason it's so incredible it makes you do the work of figuring out what you're looking at. And trust me, some of the things being done to the food is as mysterious as what goes down at a Masonic lodge.
A Taste: You get to see gigantic farming equipment that grows and extends its limbs like a Transformer; some guys whose job it is to "extract" bull semen during a mating moment; the claustrophobia of working in a salt mine; a tractor-like vehicle that does nothing but violently shake trees for who-knows-what reason; fish being blown through a giant tube and then sliced and deboned by a really awesome machine with frightening robotic arms; and the most horrifying thing of all, the processing of baby chicks as they get scooped up by bored workers and placed onto fast-moving conveyor belts and shot out of chutes and boxed up for delivery to whatever stinky, depressing McNugget farm they're going to die young at. Then when they're grown, you see them get vacuumed up into a big tube and shipped down a conveyor belt to their final skinless, boneless, honey-mustard-dipped destination.
Possible Unintended Result: Could lead you down the path of giving up the eating of animals. I actually spoke to my two vegan friends right after watching it, and as I explained all the weird stuff I'd seen, they just nodded their heads in that "see, we told you we were right all along" way.
Movie It Kicks the Butt Of: Fast Food Nation