Monday, February 6, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 49
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
MISSING
A MAN CALLED OTTO
A QUIET PLACE PART II
AMSTERDAM
ANOTHER ROUND
BARBARIAN
BINGEABLE: 100 FOOT WAVE (2021)
BINGEABLE: 1923 (2022-present)
BINGEABLE: A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY (2022)
BINGEABLE: A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (2022)
BINGEABLE: ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL (2022)
BINGEABLE: ANDOR (2022-present)
BINGEABLE: BARRY (2018-present)
BINGEABLE: BLACK BIRD (2022)
BINGEABLE: BLACK SUMMER (2019-2021)
BINGEABLE: CASTLEVANIA (2017-2021)
BINGEABLE: CHEER (2020-present)
BINGEABLE: ECHO 3 (2022)
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG (2016-2019)
BINGEABLE: FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE (2022)
BINGEABLE: GOSSIP GIRL (2021-present)
BINGEABLE: HACKS (2021-present)
BINGEABLE: INSIDE MAN (2022)
BINGEABLE: JOE PICKETT (2021)
BINGEABLE: KUNG FU (2021)
BINGEABLE: LAST LIGHT (2022)
BINGEABLE: LIFE & BETH (2022)
BINGEABLE: MAID (2021)
BINGEABLE: MIDNIGHT MASS (2021)
BINGEABLE: ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (SEASON 2) (2022)
BINGEABLE: SLOW HORSES (2022)
BINGEABLE: SQUID GAME (2021)
BINGEABLE: STATION ELEVEN (2021)
BINGEABLE: SWEET TOOTH
BINGEABLE: TELL ME YOUR SECRETS (2021)
BINGEABLE: THE BEAR (2022)
BINGEABLE: THE ENGLISH (2022)
BINGEABLE: THE GREAT (2020-present)
BINGEABLE: THE WHITE LOTUS (SEASON 2) (2022)
BINGEABLE: THREE PINES (2022-present)
BINGEABLE: TULSA KING (2022-2023)
BINGEABLE: WEDNESDAY (2022)
BINGEABLE: WELCOME TO WREXHAM (2022-present)
BINGEABLE: WILLOW (2022)
BINGEABLE: YELLOWJACKETS (2021-present)
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
BLAST FROM THE PAST: A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COWBOY BEBOP (1998)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX (1999)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE SHOOTING (1966)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
ENOLA HOLMES 2
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO
GUILTY PLEASURES: GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE
GUILTY PLEASURES: JOLT
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM (1996)
I CARE A LOT
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
NEW FLICKS: ANTLERS
NEW FLICKS: BABYLON
NEW FLICKS: BEST SELLERS
NEW FLICKS: BULLET TRAIN
NEW FLICKS: CAUSEWAY
NEW FLICKS: CRUELLA
NEW FLICKS: DAY SHIFT
NEW FLICKS: DISENCHANTED
NEW FLICKS: FINCH
NEW FLICKS: FRESH
NEW FLICKS: GEORGE CARLIN’S AMERICAN DREAM (2022)
NEW FLICKS: HUSTLE
NEW FLICKS: I WANT YOU BACK
NEW FLICKS: KATE
NEW FLICKS: MONTANA STORY
NEW FLICKS: MY POLICEMAN
NEW FLICKS: PREY
NEW FLICKS: RED NOTICE
NEW FLICKS: SIGNIFICANT OTHER
NEW FLICKS: THE GOOD NURSE
NEW FLICKS: THE GRAY MAN
NEW FLICKS: THE NORTHMAN
NEW FLICKS: THE OUTFIT
NEW FLICKS: THIRTEEN LIVES
NEW FLICKS: WATERMAN (2021)
NINE PERFECT STRANGERS (2021)
PIG
THE BATMAN
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (2019)
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
THE MENU
THE PAPER TIGERS
THE SUNLIT NIGHT
THE WHALE
THE WOMAN KING
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: ONE MISSISSIPPI
TV REVIEW: PAINTING WITH JOHN (2021)
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TED LASSO (2020-present)
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WARRIOR
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: ZOLA (2020)
WHITE NOISE

The Biggest Little Farm inspires and instills hope for a sustainable future

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (2019)

PHOTO BY COURTESY OF FARMLORE FILMS

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (2019)


Where is it playing?: Hulu

What's it rated?: PG

What's it worth?: $Full Price (Anna Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full Price (Glen Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

John Chester (Lost in Woonsocket, Rock Prophecies) directs this documentary about his and his wife’s developing a sustainable farm on a 200-acre patch of depleted ground in Ventura County. They work to rehabilitate the soil, plant orchards and row crops, and raise a variety of animals. Hoping to live in harmony with nature, they discover that nature isn’t always interested in living in harmony with them. (91 min.)

Glen: John and Molly Chester are idealists through and through. They want to live a life of purpose, and Molly—a personal chef who records online cooking tutorials—dreams of living on a farm and raising all their food. When their rescue dog, Todd, gets them evicted from their apartment for excessive barking, they see it as an opportunity to make Molly’s dream come true. Through investors who share their vision of a sustainable agriculture model, they raise enough money to buy Apricot Lane Farms, a dusty patch of earth that had been foreclosed on twice. They had no experience. What made them think they’d be able to make this farm work in the midst of California’s brutal drought? Alan York—a soil, plant, and biodynamic consultant—told them it was possible to rejuvenate the land, and a lot of the film has to do with their ongoing struggle through diversification to create the fertile ground that York envisions. It’s an inspiring dream, and York promises them that when balance is restored to the land, profitability will come. The Chesters can’t seem to explain that to the flocks of birds that feast on their stone fruit trees; the gophers that eat the roots out from under the trees, killing them; and the coyotes that slaughter their chickens—initially the only profitable part of the farm—en masse. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll watch in wonder through the magic of birth, death, and everything in between. Mostly, I was reminded of how unbelievably difficult farming can be and the deep work ethic and perseverance it takes to continue in the face of adversity. For anyone with a passing interest in food or farming, this is a must-see.

Anna: As a former chef and farm-to-table enthusiast, Molly’s ideals and mine run parallel. I spent the early 2000s reading up on permaculture, attending Food Not Bombs meetings, exploring communal living, and dreaming of a span of land that had everything needed to feed as many as possible. Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface farms and featured expert in Michael Pollan’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma, was my first intro into the concept of old-school farming, ruling out monocultures and letting nature bring balance—sometimes in very dramatic ways. One thing all of that research taught me is that it’s hard, thankless work a lot of the time, heartbreaking and exhausting, often unprofitable and downright frustrating. One thing the Chesters don’t lack is perseverance. Watching them make their seemingly impossible dream a reality and slowly build on itself as they make the soil fertile and profitable is beautiful. Sometimes that means building a house for worms; sometimes it means birthing piglets or shooting coyotes. When the farm and wildlife are in balance, there are solutions to any problem: You just have to be clever enough to realize the assets you have on hand. Snails ruining your crops? Release the ducks! Too many flies from cow manure? Get those chickens in there! John and Molly are beacons of hope in an ever increasing factory-farmed world. It isn’t an easy life, but it’s a glorious one.

Glen: The story’s constant underlying theme is finding balance, and its overarching message is that we can, through hard work and ingenuity, return our entire world to harmonious balance. What the Chesters did to these 200 acres is nothing short of amazing and exactly what humanity needs to do to the entire planet, but current corporate agriculture puts profitability before sustainability. As inspiring as the film is, it’s hard to imagine manifesting this form of agriculture worldwide. We have too many mouths to feed and an economic system—capitalism—that demands constant expansion to function. Hence, our very way of life is unsustainable, and to meet demand, our Big Ag food system generates inexpensive food that sustainable farming can’t compete with. I guess what it comes down to are small choices—choices to pay more for produce from local growers, choices to source meat locally from humane farmers, and choices to reject Tyson, Foster Farms, Monsanto, and other corporate ag entities that are part of the problem. Anything’s better than nothing. Obviously, we can’t all be like the Chesters, but we can strive to be part of the solution, however small that part might be. Billions of people making small choices can have a big impact, and watching this documentary might be just the inspiration you need to start making those small but essential choices. 

Anna: The Chesters are not alone—there are people and farms doing this hard work all over the place. You’re 100 percent right: Putting your money where your mouth is keeps them in business and able to continue the cause. PSA—Get to farmers’ market and support local farmers and ranchers! York is certainly a force behind their drive and dedication, but John and Molly are left feeling abandoned when health issues no longer allow their mentor to consult. They must forge on, hoping the skill set and mindset he has instilled in them leads them to profitability. Along the way they collect a family of like-minded folks looking to learn and make their way along the same path. John is a filmmaker with a knack for capturing the small moments—whether it be time-lapse video of coyotes or snails, or slow-mo of ladybugs feasting or aphids laying eggs, it’s a visually stunning piece of work. While the hope and idealism is saturated, the film doesn’t gloss over the rough parts. I’m not going to lie—I cried a whole bunch, mostly over animal stuff. Whether it was with worry over Emma, their pig, not wanting to eat after birthing 17 piglets or the countless chicken carcasses after a coyote raid, the farm life isn’t easy. The Biggest Little Farm is triumphant, hopeful, and tender. The Chesters may have you thinking about carving out a little piece of paradise for yourself one day. I know they certainly reminded me of the reasons I’ve longed for farm life since I was a kid feeding goats, rabbits, and chickens in my parents’ yard. See this one in theaters. It’s a joy. 

Sun Screen is written by New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










Weekly Poll
What do you think about new legislation that would require Narcan at all public school sites?

Narcan's a life-saving measure, necessary in all public spaces.
It's a good idea and will provide extra safety at schools.
Not sure. It's an important step, but we should focus on keeping opioids out of schools.
It's not necessary.

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