United States of Maize

Positioned as the heir to outrage-engendering flicks like Super Size Me and Sicko, documentary King Corn opens today in New York, and boy are high-fructose corn-syrup-haters gonna be happy with what they see.

The Ethicurean’s Bonnie P. attended an early showing, and in her post “Good Cob, Bad Cob: ‘King Corn’ Isn’t Against the Grain” has this to say:

The growing of the corn is mainly a storytelling device through which they explore the labyrinthine support system for cheap food in this country. Employing some adorable, yet low-budget techniques like stop-motion photography of Fisher Price farmers and kernels of corn marching across a map, they provide a succinct history of modern U.S. agriculture. They interview other corn farmers, a veterinary scientist (who shows what eating corn does to a cow’s stomach in a particularly vivid segment), Michael Pollan, a creepy Tammy-Faye-Bakker-lookalike spokesperson for the Corn Refiners Association, and cattle ranchers who fatten cows on corn in crowded, grim feedlots.

King Corn producers and stars Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis even take a meeting with Earl Butz, the ’70s agriculture secretary whom most blame for the corporate takeover of U.S. farms, the rise of pesticide use, and of course agricultural policies favoring corn. According to Bonnie P., Cheney and Ellis went easy on the guy, who is, after all, in his 90s and in a nursing home. But they weren’t as gentle on the feedlots they filmed. After an April preview, King Corn director Aaron Woolf told the crowd how deeply he was affected: “I didn’t even know I believed in God,” Bonnie P. quotes him as saying, “but what I saw made me feel like it was an act against God, almost Promethean defiance, to turn these animals into machines for us like that.”

Yep. That’s it.

Want to know more? The New York Times reviewed the movie today (registration required), and Ellis is blogging on Culinate about the movie and his experiences as it opens across the country. Oh, and here’s the trailer.

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