Monday, April 19, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; the McBone Week in Movies

How to Train Your Dragon - When you live in West Lafayette, IN, you don't get real excited about what comes to the multiplex each week.  You know you'll get a steady diet of Owen Wilson dog movies and anything Nicholas Sparks that comes around the bend.  Curiosly, Brendan Fraser, who is to me what Julianne Moore is to others, continues to show up every couple of months.  One merciful refuge?  Animation.  Coraline, Up, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox were some of the better movies of last year.  This year, How to Train Your Dragon is an early favorite.

The story is fairly standard.  Wimpy kid overcomes his own haplessness to do great things.  We've seen this before, but an old story done right can be told and retold a thousand times.  In this case we have young Hiccup the Viking, who is excluded from dragon slaying activities by the dragon slaying community at large.  Hiccup, undaunted, sets out to prove them wrong.  Along the way, he befriends the enemy, and discovers that once you make an effort to actually understand your rival, finding peaceful solutions is much more palatable than killing.  Naturally, there is also a woman at stake, which is ok, because women are awesome.

I don't have much else to say other than the animation is great, the characters are endearing, and you will be pining for a dragon of your own by the time the movie is done.  Also, when a two-hour movie feels like five minutes have gone by, you know you have a winner.  See this.

Official McBone Rating: 4.5 McBones

Made in L.A. - Having a documentary filmmaker for a wife affords me ample opportunity to watch films I would never otherwise see.  Made in L.A., directed by Almudena Carracedo, chronicles a small, courageous group of L.A. garment factory workers and their battle to earn fair pay (they make about 3 dollars an hour) and work humane hours (they endure 12 hour shifts, and are forced to take work home with them).  Their opponent?  Forever 21, the retail clothing chain that sells the garments in question.

Now, this situation presents many problems (and here is where I get political once again, McBoners).  Obviously I'm on the side of the workers, who are, at least in this film, female and Latina, but really I don't care if they are female, male, transgender, Latina, black, white, American, Mexican or Martian.  If you work in this country, you need to get paid at least minimum wage.  Period.  If you can't pay it, you need to stop employing people. Forever 21 pleads ignorance, saying it's not the company's problem, but their contractors'.  I say, Forever 21 is made up of a pack of liars.  So do the women, whose lawsuit has them in limbo for 3 years.  Throughout, Carracedo gives a balanced perspective; we see the women at their strongest and when their resolve falters.  A lesser filmmaker would have let bias get in the way of revealing the human side of these women, who just want to work, not picket.

I can't delve into the mind of a president of a company with this kind of business model, which seems to be: sell affordable, fashionable clothing and pay rock bottom wages.  I certainly understand the lure of making large profits, and of wealth, but I always wonder how an executive can fall asleep at night knowing that his or her satin sheets came at the sacrifice of someone else's ability to feed their family.

The easy thing is to wish for the women to win their lawsuit, but then in the back of our minds we all know what happens when American corporations are forced to make concessions to their drones.  Yep, they move to places where they can pay less than three dollars an hour.

I don't know the answer to this problem, and the film doesn't presume to either.  What I do know is that it is possible to run a business the right way.  It has to be.  Otherwise, capitalism is a farce.  The filmmakers gave Forever 21 the chance to tell their side of the story.  They declined, and they come out that much worse for it.  Credit Carracedo for not only exposing illegal labor practices that continue in this country, but for covering all her bases in doing so.  4.5 McBones



Cait said...

You explain to people why they shouldn't buy F21's clothing, which is shitty anyway. H&M is also slightly evil, as in the past they've destroyed their surplus clothing rather than giving it away in order to be able to sell things at a certain price point. This is basically why I shop at least I'm not directly contributing because of lack of information.

Kid Shay said...

It's depressing when American Apparel is the moral high ground in the industry. My solution: full-time nudist.