Third in a series of capsule reviews from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. For parts I and II click here and here.
has been said about America's obesity epidemic: from the rising rates
of obesity and diabetes among children to the growing health-care costs
related to swelling waistlines. Even First Lady Michelle Obama, with her
Let's Move campaign that encourages children to stay active, has
contributed to a national conversation on the need for diet exercise and
the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which had the
audacity to try to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables during school
lunch (the horror!).
But the argument that Fed Up makes is that
our national focus on fitness and activity fails to address the elephant
in the room: the food industry that increasingly pitches high-sugar
processed foods and a national diet that sets individuals up for
Produced and narrated by Katie Couric, Fed Up makes a
well-articulated and at times alarming argument. It describes the
biological science, the historical events and the private industry
motivations that have combined into a sinister cocktail. It lambasts the
"diet food" market, which shaves off marginal amounts of calories while
maintaining the same – if not higher – sugar levels of their
traditional counterparts. And it points a big, accusatory finger at soft
drinks, labeling them as the cigarettes of the 21st century and
suggesting that a warning label from the surgeon general on a bottle of
Coke may be a necessary first step in demonizing the junk food industry.
and empowering, Fed Up is the kind of documentary that sends you home
considering what you've seen and checking the nutritional labels on your
a very "Once"-ian story of love and music, Anne Hathaway plays Fran, a
Ph.D candidate who is summoned home to New York after her busker brother
is hospitalized in a coma. In an attempt to wake him, Fran goes about
rounding up mementos and sounds from his favorite spots in the city –
pancakes from a diner, the sound of gulls by the river, etc – and in the
process encounters her brother's musical idol, an indie musician named
James in town for a limited run of performances.
James soon joins
Fran on her quest, resulting in a sort of scavenger hunt of Brooklyn
music venues – and a killer soundtrack with performances by Sharon Van
Etten and Johnny Flynn, who plays James – with the two growing closer at
each step. The cast is rounded out by the wonderful Mary Steenburgen,
who plays Fran's post-bohemian academic mother in an charming
performance as a mother trying to maintaining high spirits in the face
"Song One," which Hathaway also produced, is a charming
film that is equal parts music showcase and emotional drama. The
chemistry between Hathaway and Flynn isn't exactly electric and its
Hathaway that does most of the heavy lifting, but the winsome
indie-vibe, backed by beautiful sights and sounds, makes the film a
his directorial debut, Arrested Development's David Cross (Dr. Tobias
Fünke) has crafted a two-hour sketch comedy that assaults you with
heavy-handed observations on hipsterism, millenials, conservatives and
the internet culture. It is undeniably funny, but also scattershot,
forced and inconsistent.
In the quiet hamlet of Liberty, New York,
blue-collar municipal worker Dave has a beef with his local city
government. There's potholes everywhere, the roads don't get plowed and a
local restaurant took his favorite dish of the menu. These grievances
are routinely filed at the City Council meeting, where Dave loyally
arrives to take part in public comment, ranting and shouting and
frequently having to be escorted from the premises.
eventually gain him some internet notoriety as a collective of
Brooklynite activists take up his cause. This causes Dave's daughter
some grief, as she is a fame-obsessed teenage girl desperate to go viral
online like the Teen Moms she hate/loves.
"Hits" is peppered with
a drop-in cast of likeable actors (Jason Rutter, Michael Cera, David
Koechner, Matt Walsh and Amy Sedaris) who each deliver some genuine
laughs. But the film is so busy trying to maintaining nonsensicality
while still saying something about society that it makes for a hodgepodge that doesn't quite stick the landing.