In his youth, Judge Matt Dicker was a Pop Tart Hunter.
A cinematic odyssey through nature and commerce.
A talented documentarian can take even the most banal or esoteric subject and make it compelling (see The King of Kong or Spellbound), and thus even though the topic of hunting for and preserving rare fruit is not one to which I had given any previous thought, I hoped to be drawn into this world.
Facts of the Case
The Fruit Hunters follows several individuals dedicated to preserving the diverse world of fruit outside of the industrial monoculture complex. The film tracks the varying efforts of these individuals, ranging from trained scientists to amateur fruit lovers (including actor Bill Pullman (Independence Day), as each pursues their passion.
These days you can't walk into a restaurant without seeing diners pulling out cell phones to snap photographic evidence of every course, and Facebook and Instagram are overrun with the results of these efforts. Coupled with the meteoric rise of the Food Network, Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and others, these photographic and filmic representations of food are often referred to semi-derisively as food porn. The Fruit Hunters is the Deep Throat of food porn.
As the film's closing credits roll, each of the fruits depicted in the film is shown along with its name parallel to the film's credits. This decision is a telling one, as it affirms the fact that the fruits are very much the stars of this film, not the hunters. Though the hunters' stories are told and we learn a bit about what kindled their interest in the field, none of these stories are terribly compelling, and as each story was told I found myself anxiously waiting for more depictions of the wonderful fruits chosen for the film.
But the fruit, oh, the fruit. The Fruit Hunters is one of the most viscerally visual films I have seen, with long, loving shots of the most beautiful examples of some of the rarest fruits on the planet. Though I thought these shots of fruit would grow tiresome, I found myself staring at them with the same sense of lost wonder that I had when viewing the screensavers that came with Windows 95. I would have liked to have seen these fruits on Blu-ray, but they are beautifully captured on the DVD and no imperfections are evident. It's a visual film, so the sonic needs aren't great, and the DVDs Dolby 2.0 sound is more than adequate.
Perhaps in an attempt to add some lightheartedness to avoid taking itself too seriously, the film has some pretty silly voiceovers and even more ridiculous reenactments, but the effect of these are minimal. Even though the director often expresses his fondness for fruit and its hunters in a laughable way, his enthusiasm for the subject is contagious.
The narrative is a bit thin, the descriptions of the fruit are quite a bit over the top at times, and the re-enactions are just plain absurd, but the stunning visuals and appreciation it engenders toward our natural world makes The Fruit Hunters a documentary worth consuming.
Guilty of making me care way too much about fruit.
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