Kevin’s Digital Week 5 - Busting Foodies

Blu-Ray of the Week:
The General
One of Buster Keaton’s greatest comedies — and one of the very best silent films ever made — is a hilarious Civil War-era farce about a Confederate Army reject who becomes a hero after the Union Army hijacks his beloved locomotive. This is a movie that you can’t look away from, or even blink while watching, because there is so much going on in every shot that you don’t want to miss anything. The stunts are astounding, even by Keaton’s daring and exacting standards, and the Blu-ray version gives an added clarity and much detail that wasn’t noticed on VHS tapes or beat-up 16mm prints.

If you didn’t think that an 80-year-old film could look spectacular in high-definition, then The General is here to prove you wrong. Extras are plentiful, starting with three separate soundtracks — Carl Davis’ orchestral score performed by the Thames Silents Orchestra, Emmy nominee Robert Israel’s score and an organ score by Lee Erwin recorded at Carnegie Hall — and continuing with introductions by Orson Welles and Gloria Swanson, on-the-set footage and a montage of train sequences in Keaton’s films.

DVD of the Week
Food Beware
(First Run)
Jean-Paul Jaud
’s enlightening documentary about the perils of non-organic food is set mainly in a small French village, where the school menus, comprising locally-grown produce and meats, are completely organic. Jaud then widens his net by speaking with an array of people about growing, harvesting and eating organic food, from farmers and politicians to everyday folk, like the parents of children who have gotten ill due to pesticides. 

Jaud can’t help but step up onto his soapbox at times, as when he hears from a mother whose daughter was stricken, and never presents any incontrovertible evidence that environmental factors were definitely to blame for her illness: they surely are the cause, but a little more fact-checking would have helped seal the case. Food Beware (the French title is more euphonic: Nos enfants nous accuseront, or Our Children Will Accuse Us) is primarily an emotional call to arms that’s also a thought-provoking treatise on what the 21st century might be like.