Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fast Food Nation

Fast Food Nation, (Linklater, 2006)

Harry Rydell: It is a sad fact of life, Don, but the truth is we all have to eat a little shit from time to time

Scene 1: We are in a brightly-lit fast food restaurant. Two men are sitting in a garishly-upholstered booth. One is an overweight man with wild, uncombed hair and a three-day growth on his face. He is wearing a faded t-shirt underneath a corduroy jacket with missing elbow patches. The legend on his t-shirt says, ' Roll cameras, action, cut' and he may or may not be a film director. The other is a thin-faced nervous man with stringy long hair and thick glasses. He is wearing a buttoned-down striped shirt and in his top pocket are a collection of pens and pencils. Some of the pens have leaked onto his shirt leaving a multi-colored stain on the front. He is tapping his hands nervously on the table; he may or may not be a writer.

Overweight man: The way I see it, it's all about conscience and free will. You know, whether you really care about this stuff and whether you care enough to actually, you know, like, do something about it.

Nervous man: Right.

Overweight man: So, we need to show it all, the whole enchilada, you know what I mean, the guys that sell this stuff, the schmucks that work in the restaurant, all the crap, how we are all part of this big machine and we don't even know it.

Nervous man: O.K. ...

Overweight man: Could I get another cup of coffee over here?

He directs his question at a young woman dressed in the uniform of the fast food chain. Her name tag says Amber and she looks like she is a high school senior.

Young woman: Sorry sir, we don't do refills.

Overweight man: See what I mean. They just want to screw you over, get your money and get you out the door. Goddammit.

Nervous man: So, how far you want to go back with this?

Overweight man: What do you mean 'how far back?"

Nervous man: Well, it's not just the fast food companies, is it? I mean, where does all this shit come from? You got your meat packers and your ranchers. They're all part of it too, man.

Overweight man: Right, yeah. Then there's the illegals too. We could get a whole angle on the illegals. Show the mules bringing them over and handing them over to these places that don't have no unions, no safety regs. Yeah we could do a whole slant on that.

Nervous man: O.K so now you got your problem but what about your solution? What about this stuff about conscience? How are you going to work that in?

Overweight man: How about this? Let's take your average guy, stuck working for one of these corporations, you know, a family man just like that guy over there.

He points to a man sitting in a booth with a woman and two kids. The kids are eating their meals while the woman is staring out the window. The man is watching a certain area of Amber's anatomy as she bends over to wipe down a table for an older man who looks like he's auditioning for a Marlboro commercial. Or maybe he's a rancher.

Nervous man: Yeah, let's say he used to work for some cable company and now he's got a job thinking up marketing schemes for this burger chain. Only the more he finds out about the product, the more he thinks he's being asked to peddle crap.

Overweight man: So how about if he has to go and look at one of those meat packing places they have around here. And then we could show how those kinds of places are just bending all the rules to make the big bucks, trucking in illegals from Mexico, screwing them over, you know, no contracts, no safety regs, just giving it to them in the ass. But he doesn't see it at first because he just believes what he sees.

Nervous man: Yeah, literally screwing them in the ass. So what happens?

Overweight man: He's gotta find out about what really goes on but who's going tell him? Who's not benefiting from all this?

Nervous man: What about Marlboro man over there. Maybe he's one of those ranchers that doesn't buy into all this. He's got developers leaning on him on the one side and the meat packers on the other.

Overweight man: OK I like it. So we got to find a way to put them together.

His gaze wanders outside to the motel parking lot opposite. He watches as a red pick up truck pulls up and a tall, well-built man gets out and goes up to one of the doors. It opens and a few moments later, he comes back out followed by two Hispanic looking men who get back into the truck bed. He is just able to see the faces of a woman as the motel door closes. It's the face of a thousand women he has seen before, cleaning his hotel room or standing behind the counter of a restaurant like this.

Overweight man: Then, there's people like her.

He points over to Amber who has come off shift and is now sitting at a booth opposite a woman and a man. The two adults look as if they could be sister and brother. The woman is wearing a uniform with a badge shaped like a dog. The man looks like he hasn't changed his style of clothes since he was a stoner at Berkeley in the 60's.

Nervous man: What do you mean?

Overweight man: Well, you think she gets more than minimum wage? You think she likes selling this crap? Maybe she just wants to go out and party or maybe she's one of those animal activists.

Nervous man: What would someone like that be doing working in a place like this?

Overweight man: That's my point. All these people - they are all caught up in the same freaking mess - it gets us all and no one can do anything about it. I mean, even if you went right up to one of those packing plants, cut the freaking fence and let the cows out they probably wouldn't even be smart enough to escape. And we're just the same, man. We're like those cattle stuck in the pens. Sticking together until it's time for someone to blow a freaking hole in our head.

Nervous man: I don't know, man. Seems like an awful lot to get in one movie.

Cast of characters

Overweight man: Richard Linklater
Nervous man: Eric Schlosser
Amber: Ashley Johnson
Man in the booth: Greg Kinnear
Marlboro man: Kris Kristofferson
Pick-up driver: Bobby Cannavale
Hispanic man 1: Wilmer Valderrama
Hispanic man 2: Armando Hernàndez
Woman in the doorway: Catalina Sandino Moreno
Woman with the dog badge: Patricia Arquette
Stoner guy: Ethan Hawke

Fast Food Nation also features:

Bruce Willis
Paul Dano
Ana Claudia Talanc├│n

It is available on DVD from 20th Century Fox.

1 comment:

1minutefilmreview said...

We loved this film. We're fans of Linklater too.