because sometimes my synapses actually connect, and a coherent thought results...

12 March 2008

a feel-not-so-good movie

Last night, I went to a screening of a Swedish documentary film called The Planet, presented at the Cleveland International Film Festival courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing. All I can say is, see this movie if you are able. It is a sobering look at the sorry state of our planet, in a "just the facts" style that strips away any controversy, partisanship, or hidden agendas, relying instead on numbers to make its arguments.

The audience last night was disappointingly small, and some of the commentary I heard afterward indicated that some folks clearly missed the point, but these are the same people for whom a life-changing decision involves who to vote for on American Idol. Oh well, as was mentioned in the film itself, denial of extremely bad news is a common defense mechanism.

This not to say that the film is perfect by any means. While it opens with a montage of African landscapes that then turn the camera 180 degrees and expose how overrun by human society some of these supposed "pristine" landscapes have become, some of the montages could have been snipped a few seconds sooner. The pacing was a bit slow. Also, the soundtrack, composed mostly of techno/ambient backbeat loops intermingled with context-specific sounds and looped audio bites from some of the interview subjects, was very effective, but sometimes heavy-handed.

Count the "Symphony for Jackhammer, Mason's Chisel, and Concrete Slurry" :-) that underlined a segment on urban development among the more effective pieces, while the sampling of the phrase "killer instinct" from an Indian TV hostess talking about the growth of consumptive society in her country was repeated a few too many times. The repetition of this stupid git's words, combined with her vapid expression, left me wanting to put a bullet in her head by its end. On second thought, maybe that segment did exactly what it was supposed to.

The movie, while long on exposition of the problem(s) (but brief on runtime at under 90 minutes), was unfortunately short on answers. I hazard to think that may be indicative of the world at large, though. We've gotten here, we know we're here -- now what?

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