Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: John Peterson, Anna Peterson, John Edwards, Isa Jacoby, Rosemary Palmer, Jesus Briano, Robert Clothier, Lesley Freeman
Written by: John Peterson
Directed by: Taggart Siegel
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 83
Date: 01/21/2005
IMDB

The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2006)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

How Does His Garden Grow?

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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Farmer John drapes himself in green feather boas and writes plays, but he drives a tractor, plays in the dirt and -- in case you're wondering -- dates girls. I suppose that's the kind of showmanship it takes to get people to come see Taggart Siegel's new documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John, which ran at last summer's "Green Screen" film festival and opens today in Bay Area theaters.

The film traces the story of John Peterson, who once inherited his family's massive ranch just outside of Chicago. During the 1960s he racked up massive debts as he turned the land into a kind of hippie/artist commune. Nowadays, he runs a small, organic farm and makes a living shipping subscription "boxes" out to city-dwellers.

Siegel had something like 20 years worth of footage to draw from, and despite the film's goofy title and quirky imagery, it's a hugely depressing tale. I kept wondering what would happen next? Locusts? Blindness?

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