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The Moo Man (2013)

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Modern British dairy farms must get bigger and bigger or go under but Farmer Stephen Hook decides to buck the trend. Instead he chooses to have a great relationship with his small herd of ... See full summary »

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Stephen Hook
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Modern British dairy farms must get bigger and bigger or go under but Farmer Stephen Hook decides to buck the trend. Instead he chooses to have a great relationship with his small herd of cows and ignore the big supermarkets and dairies. The result is a laugh-out-loud emotional roller-coaster of a film, a heart warming tearjerker about the incredible bonds between man, animal and countryside in a fast disappearing England. Written by Anonymous

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12 July 2013 (UK)  »

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Pan Krowa  »

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Engaging but probably too gentle for its own good
8 June 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This documentary follows the Hook family farm – a concern with a comparatively small head of cattle and a product of raw (unpasteurized) milk, which sells at a better price than the mass milk we buy for almost no money in the super market. We follow Stephen Hook over several years as he introduces us to his cows, works the farm, deals with injuries, brings new cows into the world and sends others out as beef, worries about the risk of TB and many other challenges.

This film got reasonable reviews when it was released but it never saw the inside of the cinema where I live, but I felt better about buying directly online from the official website since I hope more of the money goes to the makers. Moo Man is a title that suggests a light hearted approach rather than being a searing documentary tearing our hearts out for basically being part of a broken world. The title is fair in that way because this is a film that is generally gentle in its approach although this is not to say that it is all sugarcoated material making it look like the cows live forever as equals. I liked that the film is fair about what it shows – it shows affection from Hook for his animals but we see that he never loses site of their role in his cycle and although he is attentive and treats them like more than commercial objects, he is not weeping when he sells one to slaughter for beef. I liked that it avoided being very obviously to that end of the spectrum.

However it is near that end to a certain degree. The film is presented with a soundtrack and tone of gently quirky and quaint – encouraging the mood of the film to be warm and jaunty in its tone. Likewise we never really get into really hard territory – certainly we never get a feel for the reality that one family farm shuts every day and we never really get into the grit of what can be done and who is to blame (beyond a bit of a dig at the supermarkets). I understand that it is not this film and as a result didn't go that route, but by staying so light and gentle, while it does engage, it does also feel like it was a very deliberate decision to go a certain way – which of course it was, but I still didn't like feeling it throughout.

That said, Moo Man is still a gently engaging documentary even if it is really very gentle in every regard. It ploughs a fairly safe furrow where it touches on everything (the tragic, the comedic, the day-to-day, the pressures) but only touches on all of them, never really pushing too much one director or the other.


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