According to Netflix, I enjoy “cerebral documentaries,” so I figured I would run with it and watch yet another of its recommended movies, a documentary by Franny Armstrong called McLibel. It documents the longest trial in English history, the defamation trial of anti-McDonald’s activists Helen Steel and David Morris.
England has long been known as a sort of libel haven because its laws are so slanted in favor of the person who is making the accusation. McDonald’s took advantage of this when it chose to sue the two over their pamphlet called What’s wrong with McDonald’s: Everything they don’t want you to know. The outline of the film roughly follows that of the ensuing trial — one by one, each of the accusations against McDonald’s is examined to determine if they are supported by factual evidence.
While the facts of the case are shown in a value-neutral manner, for the most part, the sympathies are clearly with the activists. This especially shows in the portrayal of a meeting in which McDonald’s offered to settle the case in exchange for the defendants refusing to discuss the case publicly. They declined, and continued fighting. In the end, the judge found that many of the pamphlet’s accusations were, in fact, not sufficiently proven — they could not document for certain that McDonald’s food was killing people or destroying the rain forest — at the end of a marathon 10 years of litigation, the defendants were slapped with a penalty of only £60,000 (about $99,000).
The film takes a pretty straightforward documentary approach without too much emotional manipulation. The version now available, released in 2005, includes an addendum that describes the victory of the defendants in their case at the European Court of Human Rights, in which they asserted that the UK Government had violated their basic rights of freedom of expression in not offering the defendants legal aid in the libel trial.
Sure, it isn’t Fahrenheit 911 or even Super Size Me, but it is a great film about the truth behind one of the most influential consumer-focused businesses on earth, and how people who believe in something can make a difference. It is always pleasant to see a giant fall, and this story is no exception.
32nd Street may be stretching the definition of Downtown, but this place is my new obsession, so I just had to write about it. Revõ Burrito (yes, it is pronounced REE-vo) is another restaurant by Lenny Rosenberg, the inventor of Blue Burrito Grille, and current owner of Father’s Office knockoff Delux Burger and mediocre sushi joint Zen 32. Situated on the same corner as its cousins, Revõ Burrito stands apart as a delicious, fresh, pile of amazingness. The best way to describe the food is like a Chipotle that is run by gourmet chefs. The beans are delicious, if a bit simple, and have perfect texture. The rice is amazing; it is creamy with corn mixed in. I have had the grilled veggie burrito (squash, peppers, etc.) and the organic black bean burrito, both of which are great. I would recommend the veggie, though, and order it as a platter with rice and beans on the side so you can still get your fill of both. The combo platters also come with so-so chips and fresh salsa — get the tomatillo. The pricing usually works out to be a bit on the high side for a quick-service joint: A burrito combo and a lemonade will set you back about $12 by the time all is said and done, so it isn’t cheap, but it is worth it.
The burritos are made fresh and the service is very helpful. It is a modified Pei Wei sort of set up where you order at the counter and they bring the food to you. The decor is very trendy and eclectic, although I find it very annoying when a restaurateur spends so much time and effort on the design and architectural detail of the space, then starts printing up signs like “order here” and “we now serve brown rice” on what appears to be a HP inkjet, then tapes them to the registers, counters, etc. There is a reason why sign professionals exist — use them.
And, the best comes last: The lemonade, oh the lemonade. I could do without the gaudy FastSigns that assault you at the entrance, but I can forgive them because the lemonade is so amazing. They serve a traditional, fresh-squeezed, old-fashioned lemonade in addition to mango, strawberry and raspberry flavors. I recommend going for a mix of the two berries… it is heaven. I would drink it all day long if I could.
Stop by Revõ Burrito one of these nights, and odds are you will see me there enjoying a veggie combo. Seriously, I will be there.