2014, Movies

Natural Resistance (2014, Jonathan Nossiter)

I thoroughly enjoyed Mondo Vino and so I guess I was looking for more of the same. Well this is a very different film (as well it should be).

Nossiter says he wasn’t intending to make this movie and unfortunately that is all over the finished product: it feels rushed, rough and frankly almost amateurish for someone who has been making movies as long as he has. I get that some of that – perhaps of all of it – is intentional, but it was more than a little jarring.

What we get is some really engaging conversation – evidently spontaneous from the obvious adjustments and camera moves Nossiter or his cameraman makes – on the nature of farming / wine-making as it was and as it should be, in contrast to how government bureaucracies are attempting to regulate it. And at times this one marvels at how absurd bureaucracy can make policy. But that conversation is only part of the movie.

Unfortunately, Nossister and at least one of his participants are trying to make bigger claims about the direction the world is going – perhaps corporate fascism is the best way to put it. And in order to try and give us this impression Nossiter uses old film clips from both famous and not so famous movies, as well as the conspiracy theories of one of his friends.

The result is almost disastrous. I say almost because the conversations about the nature of farming and the absurdity of modern food production and regulation are so fascinating that the rest of the film is just kind of silly and annoying, not bad. (I should note that it’s often funny, and this is certainly a much more playful film than I remember Mondo Vino being.) I had trouble matching the film clips to the film Nossiter shot himself – sometimes they appeared to add context, other times they appeared as arbitrary asides to no end. The whole thing feels almost like a lark.

Anyway, it’s clear that this wasn’t the most considered project and I guess what you think of it depends on how professional you think documentaries should be.

I will say, though, that the scene in which one of the vintner’s shows his soil in comparison to the pesticide-treated soil is pretty powerful stuff.

6/10 (seems generous in retrospect)

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