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By Daniel Wible | February 19, 2004

Call me a fanboy geek, but I’d watch the Zellner Brothers star in a food processor infomercial. The creative forces behind such surreal comedic gems as Plastic Utopia and Frontier, David and Nathan Zellner pretty much put the “auteur” in “Auteur Theory” in whatever they do. Such is the case with “The Meat Market,” a disturbing, darkly comical short film in which they “merely” serve as actors.
Sonny Rollins (Nathan) and his, shall we say, “slow” brother George (David) are about to lose their family’s cattle farm. Times are tough in the beef industry, (not even counting the recent Mad Cow scare), or at least they’re tough for the sort of small scale, family owned farm the brothers have inherited from their father. The main problem seems to be distribution, i.e. getting their beef to the market in a profitable manner. (Seems to be a corollary there to the film industry…but that’s a subject for a different day.)
Sonny thinks he’s found a solution in the form of George Sledge (Paul Norton), the unstable founder and president of a faceless agri-business conglomerate, who might be interested in the Rollins Brothers brand of beef. Dressed in their best Sunday duds, the boys meet with their corporate savior…and the beef literally hits the fan.
It’s actually a little difficult to expound on the plot of this twisted film, as “The Meat Market” is not exactly plot driven. Filled with subtle and not so subtle jabs at the evils of corporate farming, director Chris Ohlson has crafted a well-written, somewhat queasy character study wrapped in a political agenda. Nicely photographed and powered by the usual strong performances by the Zellners and Norton, “The Meat Market” is a vegetarian’s worst nightmare come to life. Either that or it’ll convert anyone who sees the film INTO a vegetarian. I’m not quite sure which.

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