Recently I’ve had the opportunity to watch a number of interesting and topical films, and it seems they all provide or inspire commentary on serious issues we face in the world today. Without further ado, I offer the following capsule reviews:
Stunning photography captures the essence of wilderness, and balanced coverage of the competing issues gives a holistic portrait of the decades-long struggle over this unique wilderness setting in southeastern BC’s Purcell Range (where the action of my novella, Rendezvous at Jumbo Pass, takes place). The downside of “balanced” reporting is that disproportionate air time goes to the proponent of the resort, Italian investor Oberto Oberti. Yet the weight of the arguments clearly favors the array of overwhelmingly popular forces against the mega-development… and those without voices to protest, the region’s wildlife.
Jumbo Wild is currently (fall 2015) on a North American tour. At the sold-out Victoria showing I gave away 6 free copies of Rendezvous during the Q & A session. Here are some photos from the event:
This Changes Everything
Author Naomi Klein helps present this brilliant take on the climate change issue: that it’s bigger than even that biggest issue of planetary sustainability. It’s not just about the science, or debates over solutions; it’s about democratic resistance to destructive corporate greed. “Think globally, act locally” is effectively reversed here, where local action is taken out of necessity for economic and environmental survival; and with it comes conscious connection to issues linking local actions around the globe.
Some instructive parallels surface in this action film / morality tale, between the hubris of a dinosaur theme park and the short-sighted pursuit of militarized technology. In the film the character who seeks to exploit the engineered dinosaurs as weapons is deliciously consumed by one such creature. Cut to the Middle East, where the evil allies of the American Empire (Al-Qaeda, ISIS) bite the hand that feeds them. Might we expect a similar result when legions of quasi-mercenary, bioengineered reptiles come into play?
The FBI forges an alliance with the Irish mob in Boston, against the Mafia, in the process making them accessories to various murders and other crimes. In the end we are to assume that justice prevails, the corrupt pact punished. In this sense, the gritty film, featuring a stellar character role by Johnny Depp, might be labeled a fantasy; as any number of such backdoor intimacies of the real world surely proceed without such penalties—for example, the documented role of the FBI in instigating numerous (perhaps all) so-called terrorist plots in the US, just as the CIA has done overseas.
Testament of Youth
A quality film revisiting that familiar theme, the disillusionment of the British entering World War I. In this case the battlefield carnage is largely off-camera, except in scenes of field hospitals staffed by the leading lady. While she returns, her brother and friends all killed, to deliver a speech against further revenge on the Germans, I find the resolution less than convincing. Knowing the subsequent history, we are implicitly invited to chalk up her noble idealism as a mere “testament of youth.”
This film I found flat, without artistic merit. Its chief raison d’etre seems to be to tout the triumph of technology and human ingenuity against any any predicament, even those created by the failures of that same technology. And if the American technology is not up to snuff, there’s always the Chinese.
How to Change the World
The story of the early years of Greenpeace, charting the evolution of the organization, personalities, and vision which fused the peace and environmental movements. Close-up footage of the early nonviolent action campaigns – Amchitka nuclear test, Russian whaling, Newfoundland seal hunt – brings home the passion and pitfalls of direct activism. Through it all, and to this day the closing words of the film ring relevant: “If we wait for the meek to inherit the earth, there won’t be anything left to inherit.”