February 3rd, 2012

breaking bad

The Grey

A couple of days ago I went to see 'The Grey', which is a new film with Liam Neeson. It is a simple story: an oil company plane goes down in the mountains of Alaska, and the few survivors have to walk out of the wilderness in bad weather, and they are attacked by wolves. This film does not accurately portray the behaviour of real wolves IMHO. I think wolves would hide from the living humans as they walked away from the crash, and then scavenge the abundant corpses left behind. A marginal animal in midwinter will maximise calories gained to effort expended. I think you just need to get past that, perhaps by assuming that there is a new species of wolf living in remote Alaska, or something.

The real purpose of this set-up is to create a primal existential context. Like Alien, this is a palaeolithic drama, with humans pitted against creatures who match us or out-match us in cunning and ferocity. I see in fact that the executive producers are Ridley Scott and his son. This film is successful in capturing that core feeling, and maintaining it throughout without becoming overly mawkish or macho (you might disagree, it teeters).

It's written and directed and produced by the same person - Joe Carnahan. I have a sort of alarm bell about that, one man film projects can be simplistic and self-indulgent, particularly when they venture into philosophy. Seraphim Falls for example dealt with this same nexus of snow, survival and existentialism, and that was disappointing. The Grey has no quirky surreal stuff; it's played straight and fairly restrained, and is the better for that. Neeson does a good job, being enormous and brooding. The parallels between his own behaviour and the alpha wolf are laid on with a trowel: it's not subtle. But you know, I liked it fine. It's a simple film with a small cast, beautiful location filming, straight forward action story, male bonding, bish bosh job done.
breaking bad

On Food Security

commodorified has posted about food security and encouraged other people to respond on the topic in whatever way they like. Thanks to kalypso_v for her post on the subject and links.
Food Security is defined by The World Health Organisation as existing when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

Food security is built on three pillars:

Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.
People are going without food in this country, this winter, to a much greater degree than they were last winter. This is not because there is less food. I think that's very important. There is just as much good and delicious food: we are just choosing to redistribute it in a different way, so some people have a lot, and some don't have enough. In some parts of society that literally means not enough calories. To other people it means lack of vitamins, and for example unless policies are changed we will see rickets in this country again. Most people reading this will be too young to have seen it, but when I was a child many old women in Birmingham had rickets.

And as Polly Toynbee says in today's Guardian - we are barely seeing the start of it yet.

And the ridiculous thing is, we won't save that much money by restricting food supplies to the poorest. It doesn't cost that much, and most of it goes back into the economy anyway. It's wasted and unnecessary suffering.