I just saw “The Last Lions” – a film by Dereck & Beverly Joubert and National Geographic Entertainment that’s now in select theaters. Here’s the trailer:
My review? The cinematography was superb—Dereck Joubert’s camera work is artistically inspired, and I loved the way he really went in for tight shots. The full-screen images of lion faces and buffalo horns create a sense of immersion I haven’t seen or felt in other nature films. There are a few shots that actually looked painted, they were so beautiful.
The writing, however, left me wishing for a less heavy hand. Maybe it was Jeremy Irons’ narration. He has a great voice (and it’s a clever bit of casting getting The Lion King’s Scar to voice this film) but the storytelling was SO anthropomorphic that at times I felt the writing combined with his delivery was just too much. Am I glad I saw it? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you like lions and love nature docs. But the story and therefore the cause of this film—reversing the devastating drop of lions from 450,000 to 20,000 in just 50 years—fall a bit flat when compared to, say, Louis Psihoyos’ The Cove. Having said that, I still give tremendous credit to the Jouberts for putting their passion on film (again) and to National Geographic Entertainment for helping make it happen.
You ever see buses or cars driving around with bumper stickers on them saying “this vehicle runs on clean natural gas”? Here in New York City, over 900 of the MTA’s 6,200 buses run on natural gas (and have that sticker). Well, natural gas may burn cleaner than diesel, but it’s certainly not a clean fuel to produce. Of all the films I saw at Mountainfilm last month, few left as strong an impression on me as Gasland. Here’s the trailer:
Filmmaker Josh Fox does a commendable job weaving his personal story through a quagmire of political bureaucracies, special interest groups, corporate greed and environmental short-sightedness. The film is playing tonight (June 21) on HBO. I suggest you make time to watch it and get involved in stopping hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from happening near you. For more info on HBO, visit this link. For the official Gasland site, visit here.
A few years ago, a friend and I were discussing the Tarahumara Indians of Central Mexico. The Tarahumara are world-famous for their ability to run long-distances (like, 100 miles) in nothing more than sandals made from used tires. They live in Copper Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Mexico, and BOSS used to offer trips with them. Over many years, we learned about their culture, their relationship with the land, and their sacred beliefs in corn. Corn is a critical part of their culture—they grow the plant for food and to make tesguino, the sacred corn beer they drink during special occasions. Anyway, my friend was saying that Americans today have more corn in their bodies than the Tarahumara, who eat it and drink it. “How’s that possible?” I wondered. Well, the film King Corn explains it:
College buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis ventured from their East Coast college to visit the land of their respective great-grandparents in Iowa. Tracing their roots to the dawn of modern agriculture, they explore how corn went from a staple of small farming families to what is now America’s most-productive and most-subsidized grain. The entire face of agriculture changed because of corn and now its by-products—including high fructose corn syrup—appear in almost every product we consume. Corn is also eaten by the majority of land animals that humans eat.
The implications are both vast and daunting, as we are now eating and drinking corn on a daily basis. It’s practically inescapable, which I found both fascinating and disturbing. I hope you’ll get a chance to watch this film. Here’s the link to their official website.
There are SO many great documentaries out there that I’ve decided to profile one each week now. My first is “End of the Line,” based on the book of the same name by Charles Clover. Here’s the trailer:
The film came out last summer (the book in 2008), although the storyline and events transpired over the past 10 years. Similar to The Cove, End of the Line focuses on the oceans and what we’re doing to them. The Cove, though, focuses on the annual dolphin harvest in Taiji, Japan, whereas End of the Line surveys the decline of all sea life around the world. Far more grim. In watching the film, I get the frustrating sense of witnessing our society blindly (ignorantly) walking toward the cliff’s edge. It appears we will fall, despite my personal hope that governments, mega-corporations and consumers will wake up and stop their short-sighted practices.
Curious how I could possibly make a difference (and desperate to feel like I’m not part of the problem), I’ve decided to take a first, small step and not eat any fish for the next week. No salmon, no shellfish, no sushi. Not even any sardines (which I happen to love as much as I love sushi). Just for one week, to see how it goes. Maybe I’ll do this every month—one week of no fish, then one week of no meat, then one week of no chicken. We’ll see. But it’s no fish for me right now.
That said, I encourage you to see the End of the Line. Here’s a link to their official website.
Categories: Movie of the Week
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