Monday, 28 October 2013

Seven films that highlight the importance of consumer protection (that won't send you to sleep)

From a world where nobody is fit enough to stand, to tenacious true stories about lone individuals who take on corporate interests, here is CI's pick of the best movies inspired by consumer rights issues.

Supersize Me (2004)
Director: Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock's documentary sees him attempt to eat McDonald's for an entire month and perhaps represented a crucial change in the way we perceive fast food generally. Many fast food chains have massively changed their marketing since the movie (also credit due to Eric Schlosser book and subsequent film Fast Food Nation and the growing anti obesity movement), introducing a range of healthier options and in some cases removing 'mega' portion options.

The Insider (1999)
Director: Michael Mann

The long battle to prove that tobacco kills seems almost surreal now. But there was a time when it was highly controversial to claim that ingesting nicotine and smoke might be bad for you.  But this inspiring and powerful tale  illustrates why business has to be held to account by the consumer movement. Michael Mann delivers a dramatic and moving film.
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Director: Fernando Meirelles

Another movie featuring a tenacious hero fighting a lone battle to expose a corporate cover up. Ralph Fiennes plays a widower trying to unlock dark secrets behind his wife's murder. Issues of corporate ethics and irresponsible Big Pharma loom large.

Inside Job (2010)
Director: Charles Ferguson

This documentary may well be the best about the 2008 financial meltdown, an event that will no doubt feature in many a consumer protection case study. Consumers were sold mortgages they could not afford on the basis of dodgy financial advice.  Using layman's terms, this stylish movie explains why this crash occurred and why it was entirely predictable. It also features great interviews as top US officials and academics get rather annoyed by some tough questioning.

Erin Brockovich (2000)
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Another extraordinary film here about the effectiveness of grassroots campaigning and research. Based on a true story, Julia Roberts stars as an unemployed single mother who unearths an environmental scandal that brought about a huge class action lawsuit in the US.

Wall-E (2008)
Director: Andrew Stanton

This movie won an acclaimed critical response for finding a way of bringing urgent planetary issues such as sustainability and waste to children's eyes. Set in the future, robot Wall-E is left to tend to an Earth,  abandoned because it had become overrun with waste. The remaining humans are mainly too fat to move. And in addition to all that it is a romantic tearjerker too!

Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013)
Director: Cullen Hoback

It's been said that online,  if the product is free then you're the product. This documentary, which we have yet to see, promises to show exactly how our data is used by companies like Google and Facebook, assessing threats to our privacy and the possibilities for resisting them.

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