Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news


Daily Kos
Political Animal
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
Crooked Timber
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015 01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015 02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015 03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015 04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015 05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015 06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015 07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015 08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015 10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015 11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Night At The Movies

Mercy Mercy Me: Top 10 Eco-flicks

By Dennis Hartley

Goddammit they just changed the recycling bin rules in Seattle again, just when I finally had it down. It used to be that paper and cardboard went in one bin, and glass in another. Aluminum cans were OK in either one (THAT really challenged my cognitive sorting skills for the first 6 months or so). “Yard waste” was defined as…well, yard-ey things like pulled weeds, trimmed branches and dead leaves. It was OK to put fruit and veggie scraps in with the yard waste. Greasy pizza boxes were OK too. But chicken bones and meat scraps were verboten. Those were “garbage”. Now they just changed it all around again. Meat scraps are now “yard waste”. You can even throw your glass bottles into the bin that was previously restricted to paper, cardboard and the occasional bi-curious aluminum can. This begs a question: WTF goes in my “garbage” can now? And who is this Seattle “trash czar” who makes these arbitrary changes, I wanna know? Who is this Recycling Bin Laden who makes taking out the garbage such a dreaded terror in my life?

But hey…enough about my trashy issues. In honor of Earth Day (week), I’ve cobbled together my picks for the Top 10 Eco-flicks. As per usual, my list is presented in no particular ranking order. Note: this week’s post is 100% biodegradable (it’s a com-post!).

Baraka -This 1992 film is frequently mentioned in the same breath as Koyannisqatsi; while it does utilize similarly expansive, bird’s-eye view cinematography, supervised by the same DP (Ron Fricke, who also directed here) Baraka succeeds in standing on its own, with its own unique vision. The title is a Sufi term that roughly translates to “a blessing”, and indeed, this global cultural/anthropological travelogue (sans narration) is ultimately a journey that seems more spiritual in nature than the earlier film. Some of the imagery recalls the eco-political themes explored in Koyaanisqatsi (particularly in a striking sequence depicting the environmentally devastating Kuwaiti oil well fires that occurred during the first Gulf War) but it is still left up to the viewer to connect all the dots. Breathtaking, mesmerizing, and best enjoyed on the largest screen you can find.

The Emerald Forest- Although it may give an initial impression as a heavy-handed (if well-intentioned) “save the rainforest” polemic, John Boorman’s underrated 1985 adventure (a cross between The Searchers and Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan) goes much deeper. Powers Boothe portrays an American construction engineer working on a dam project in Brazil. One day, while his wife and young son are visiting him at his job site on the edge of the rainforest, the boy is abducted and adopted by an indigenous tribe who call themselves “The Invisible People”, touching off an obsessive decade-long search by the father. By the time he is finally (and serendipitously) reunited with his barely recognizable, now-teenaged son (Charley Boorman), the challenge becomes a matter of how he and his heartbroken wife (Meg Foster) are going to coax the reluctant young man back into “civilization”. Tautly directed, lushly photographed and well-acted.

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster -Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: there’s no accounting for some people’s tastes. But who ever said an environmental “message” movie couldn’t also provide us with some mindless, guilty fun? Let’s have a little action. Knock over a few buildings. Wreak havoc. Crash a wild party on the rim of a volcano with some Japanese flower children. Besides, Godzilla is on our side for a change. Watch him valiantly battle Hedora, a sludge-oozing toxic avenger out to make mankind collectively suck on his grody tailpipe. And you haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Save the Earth”-my vote for “best worst” song ever from a film (much less a monster movie!)

An Inconvenient Truth- It’s the end of the world as we know it. Apocalyptic sci-fi has become scientific fact-now that’s scary. Former VP/Nobel winner Al Gore is a Power Point-packing Rod Serling, submitting a gallery of nightmare nature scenarios for our disapproval. I’m tempted to say that this chilling look at the results of unchecked global warming is only showing us the tip of the proverbial iceberg…but it’s melting too fast.

Koyaanisqatsi-Released in 1982, this is a profound, mesmerizing tone poem for all the senses, and one of those films that nearly defies description. I think I have watched it almost as many times as I have seen 2001 - A Space Odyssey (its nearest kin). It’s the first (and best) of a film trilogy. The title is taken from the ancient Hopi language, and describes a state of “life out of balance”. There are likely as many interpretations of what the film is “about” as there are people who have viewed it; if I had to make a broad generalization, I would say it’s about technology vs. nature. But you’ll have to experience it for yourself (if you haven’t already!). Director Godfrey Reggio, cinematographer Ron Fricke and composer Philip Glass were born to work together on this project; the result of their creative trifecta is sheer artistic perfection. Reggio followed up in 1988 with Powaqqatsi (well worth watching, but comes off a bit like a coffee table book variation of its predecessor) and the well-produced yet curiously uninvolving Naqoyqatsi in 2002.

Manufactured Landscapes-A unique eco-documentary from Jennifer Baichwal about photographer Edward Burtynsky, who is an “earth diarist” of sorts. While his photographs are striking, they don’t paint a pretty picture of our fragile planet. Burtynsky’s eye discerns a terrible beauty in the wake of the profound and irreversible human imprint incurred by accelerated modernization. As captured by Burtynsky’s camera, strip-mined vistas recall the stark desolation of NASA photos sent from the Martian surface; mountains of “e-waste” dumped in a vast Chinese landfill take on an almost gothic, cyber-punk dreamscape. The photographs play like a scroll through Google Earth images, as reinterpreted by Jackson Pollock. This one is a real eye-opener!

Never Cry Wolf-A precursor to recent fare like Grizzly Man and Into the Wild, this 1983 gem from director Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion) is an intelligent and atypically uninhibited entry in the Disney “true-life adventure” oeuvre. Based on the book by Canadian naturalist Farley Mowat, it weaves an exhilarating Jack London-style tale of a wildlife biologist (Charles Martin Smith in his best role) roughing it alone on the Alaskan tundra to conduct a long-term study of wolves and their impact on the ecosystem. There has been some controversy over the years challenging Mowat’s grasp of animal science and the validity of some of his claimed escapades in the wild; but whether or not he took creative license in the source book does not diminish the tremendous entertainment value of this wonderful film adaptation. I lived in Alaska for many a moon, and I must say that Hiro Narita’s cinematography captures the almost spiritual beauty of the region perfectly.

Princess Mononoke-I think it’s fair to say that anime master Hayao Miyazaki and his cohorts at Studio Ghibli have consistently raised the bar on the possibilities of the art form with each successive project. Respect for nature has been an abiding theme throughout much of Miyazaki’s work, so it’s tough to pick a favorite from his catalog; but for the sake of our eco theme this week, I’m going to recommend Princess Mononoke (trust me, once you’ve watched one Miyazaki, you’ll want to see ‘em all-unless you’ve got a heart of stone). Most of the patented Miyazaki themes are present here: humanism, white magic, beneficent forest gods, female empowerment, and (especially in this film) pacifist angst in a ubiquitously violent world. I should note for neophytes that while this film does have a fair amount of violence, that particular element is atypical of Miyazaki; if you prefer to start with one of his kinder, gentler offerings, try My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service (my all around favorite of his). For another Miyazaki film with a strong environmental theme, you might want to check out Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Silent Running-In space, no one can hear you trimming the verge! Bruce Dern stars as an agrarian antihero in this 1972 sci-fi adventure, directed by legendary special effects ace Douglas Trumbull. Produced around the time that “ecology” was just becoming a hot new buzzword, its “message” may seem heavy-handed to contemporary audiences, but it remains a cult favorite to genre fans. Dern is the resident gardener on a commercial space freighter that houses several bio-domes, each one dedicated to preserving various species of vegetation (in this bleak future, the Earth has become completely barren of all forms of organic growth). While it’s just a 9 to 5 drudge gig to his blue collar shipmates, Dern’s character views his cultivating duties as an almost sacred mission (much to the eye-rolling bemusement of his cohorts). When the interests of commerce demand that the crew jettison the domes to make room for a more lucrative cargo, Dern goes homicidally off his nut (all in the interest of ecology, of course), eventually ending up alone with two salvaged bio-domes and a trio of droids (Huey, Dewey and Louie!) who collectively play Man Friday to his space-stranded Robinson Crusoe. Again, some of the political allegory feels terribly dated (Dern’s loutish crewmates represent the corporate lackeys who toe the line for The Man, and he is the DFH who wants to save the greenhouses at any cost) but this is still one of my favorite sci-fi films. Joan Baez sings two songs on the soundtrack.

Soylent Green-“It’s people!” The late Phil Hartman got lots of mileage recycling this 1973 film’s most oft-quoted line on SNL, and as a result, even those who have never watched this cautionary science fiction yarn know what kind of critters go into the Soylent Corporation’s little green fritters (wafers, actually). The year is 2022, and traditional culinary fare is but a dim memory, thanks to extreme overpopulation and severe environmental depletion. Only the wealthy can afford the odd priceless tomato or stalk of celery; most of the U.S. population lives on highly processed Soylent “product” (wait a minute-this is sci-fi?) The government encourages the sick and the elderly to politely move out of the way by providing handy suicide assistance centers (considering the current state of our Social Security system, that doesn’t sound like much of a stretch anymore either, does it?). Oh-there is some ham being served up onscreen, courtesy of Charlton Heston’s scenery-chewing turn as a NYC cop, investigating the murder of a Soylent Corporation exec. Edward G. Robinson (in his final role) steals all his scenes as Heston’s partner. His moving death scene carries the added poignancy of preceding his real-life passing (from cancer) less than two weeks after the production was completed.

Search Digby!