Movie night

I’m back home in Brooklyn, and enjoyed a quiet night in last night watching two good “message” movies.

The first was Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage, the story of Yuri Orlov, a Ukrainian-American who grew up in a restaurant in Little Odessa in Brooklyn to become the World’s biggest independent arms dealer, a character who is apparently based loosely on real-life arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Apart from being an interesting and compelling action movie (Cage’s Orlov is a surprisingly likeable and sympathetic character, given his occupation), the film ends with the poignant message that private arms dealers are only operating in small-scale niche markets that the big arms dealers are unwilling or unable to operate in — often with their tacit permission.

The film ends by making the point that the five largest arms dealers in the World by far are the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France and China. It is not by coincidence that these five countries are also the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

My second message movie last night was Fast Food Nation, a fictional story based around the non-fiction book of the same name by Eric Schlosser, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie. The concept — turning a non-fiction book into a fictional story covering the same themes — worked surprisingly well.

There are various inter-connected themes in the film; it covers Mexican immigrants making the dangerous crossing into the U.S. who end up working as unskilled and abused employees in large corporate meat packing factories; a meat packing industry forced to cut corners to lower costs by profit-greedy fast food companies, and fast food companies trying to make profits by selling as much product as possible.

Everyone in the movie comes across as relatively normal and human, trying to do their best for themselves, but the end result is horrible: The immigrant workers have low pay, appalling and dangerous working conditions and no rights, and the consumers get to eat meat that is contaminated by fecal matter — i.e shit.

I stopped eating in fast food restaurants years ago, even before I read Fast Food Nation (see blogs passim) — I come from the land formerly of the mad cows, after all — but it was a good reminder of how unbridled capitalism can result in stable systems that put profits first and people and the environment last.

One thought on “Movie night

  1. John Kirriemuir

    Hello from Lapland!

    Seen Lord of War too. Thought-provoking. On a good day (which isn’t every day), N.Cage can put in a convincing performance, which helped.

    Anyway, back to my reindeer sandwich…

    Reply

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