Posts tagged "Climate Change"

“Don’t Look Up”

December 7th, 2021 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Don’t Look Up””

Michigan State University PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and supervising professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) have unexpectedly discovered a comet the size of Mt. Kilamanjaro hurtling toward Earth with an expected global destruction impact date in 6 months. They must alert the US Government and ultimately the general public in an effort to save our planet, but the hurdles they encounter just may make it impossible to do so. Thankfully, we are laughing out loud almost the entire time, a surprising effect, as the masterful writer and director Adam McKay finds a way to make annihilation hilarious while not so subtly burying the issue of climate change just below the surface to open our eyes.

From the opening scene portraying Kate’s revelation, and confirmation by Mindy, of a comet that will destroy Earth is accurate, the reactions of these ordinary — yet brilliantly intelligent — people is what sets the comedic tone to the film. The pair set out to alert NASA who then alerts the president of the United States, President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep), with whom the pair will meet and explain and hopefully prevent the end of mankind. After waiting hours in uncomfortable rooms and purchasing cheez-its (this becomes a running joke), Mindy and Kate finally get a chance to explain their findings. While not falling upon deaf ears, although it is the Midterms and Congress may never pass the budget she and her Chief of Staff (and son) Jason (Jonah Hill) who has a few mommy issues, the most powerful woman in the world attempts to find a way to spin this whole thing into a profitable position with the help a major contributor who is also a leading scientist and business man Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance).

Mindy and Kate have hit a dead end and with the help of Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), head of NASA, they hit the streets to let the public know about the comet. Getting some air-time on a popular morning show hosted by the effervescent Jack (Tyler Perry) and the superficial alcoholic Brie (Cate Blanchett), Kate finds her performance to be as catastrophic as the comet named after her. And this is just the beginning of their 6 month-long adventure into chaos, turmoil, and life in the fast lane which neither Kate nor Mindy navigate well.

McKay’s attention to detail in comedy is extraordinarily precise while always feeling free-flowing and fun. Never missing an opportunity to weave social narratives into the picture, the film, surprisingly written before Covid hit, finds ridiculousness in our truth while exaggerating it slightly to entertain us. McKay’s loose yet focused direction gives each of his actors an opportunity to explore, develop and ultimately run with their characters bringing aspects to life that no one could have written. We experience Hill’s oedipus complex with Streep’s expressive comedy as pure gold. Their performances lend a hand to the frustrated character of Dr. Mindy as DiCaprio hones in on his passion of saving the Earth as the fictional character of Mindy. McKay also takes full advantage of our instantaneous and reactionary population as Lawrence’s demonstrative effects find their way into memes, gifs, and notoriety.

“Don’t Look Up” is a complicated and tangled story weaving together so many characters (even Ariana Grande’s performance and improvised lyrics make you laugh), but never losing focus and strategically circling back to the path we’ve already traveled. This makes for not only great storytelling, but great comedy.

With a cast like this, there’s not a weak link in it, all having performances of a lifetime, and even more evident, having fun! However, Mark Rylance as the Elon Musk-type of character is one of the most surprisingly hilarious performances. His teeth alone will make you laugh, but his mannerisms are what makes our jaws drop as he expresses his thoughts and decisions about how to avert imminent doom and make a few bucks. On that same note, Blanchett finds a way to make Brie a caricature of a television host who lives for the day into a mesmerizing yet deplorable woman. And then there’s Timothee Chalamet in a role that he was meant to play, a skateboarder named Yule, who brings the entire story together.

McKay ushers us into our comfortable seats to see his film, but we quickly find that we are in the launch position of a rocket. We are strapped in for an incredible ride filled with laughter and revelations, the comet as a metaphor for so much of what’s happening in our world today. Hang on tightly! This is a ride you don’t want to miss.

4 Stars

“The Great Green Wall” Solutions to Climate Change Have Already Begun

November 25th, 2019 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Great Green Wall” Solutions to Climate Change Have Already Begun”

“Water is wealth.” These three words not only define our future, but also our world today, according to the new documentary film “The Great Green Wall” by filmmaker Jared P. Scott. His previous film, “The Age of Consequences,” laid out in visual detail the road map of climate change and all it will and is currently impacting; the devastation permeating every aspect of life. Now, “The Great Green Wall,” the counterpart to his previous film, offers a gorgeously uplifting message giving us hope while it soothes our soul with incredible music from Malian artist Inna Modja.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Scott follows Modja, a majestic singer and songwriter, as she travels across Africa’s Sahel Region, between the Sahara Dessert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Over the past decade, this 7000km swath of dessert land is beginning to transform itself back to its original state thanks to committed local inhabitants who are joining a collaborative effort to make a positive difference in the environment. The seemingly simple effort of planting trees then, in turn, gives economic stability as it returns the area’s environmental health. As Modja travels the region, recording songs with other talented artists along the way, she raises awareness and helps inspire the youth in these regions. Speaking with the indigenous people who witness the atrocities that climate change has already created, we see first-hand the impact of damaging our environment. Violence, safety, and en masse exodus are all a result of those who take advantage of poor communities.

What she discovers is at times disturbing; young women are abducted and forced to marry; violence taking over communities and taking advantage of poor situations; and vast migration of young people abandoning their homeland in search of a more prosperous life elsewhere. The “desertification, insecurity, and conflict” of areas such as Modja’s homeland of Mali is unfortunately quite typical, but she finds hope along the way. Witnessing the effects of communities undertaking the planting of trees, it seems that miracles do happen. In a relatively short period of time, these communities prove that taking responsibility of their own futures, being respectful of and understanding Mother Nature, balance can be restored.

The beauty of this film is undeniable with original songs from Modja and Didier Awadi, a pioneer of West African hip hop, and native musician Dakar, the dulcet tones and rhythms reach your soul, emphasizing the beauty of humanity. Modja’s thoughtful conversations directly with you, the viewer, and interviews with other musicians gives this film an intimate feel. We comprehend the strife and begin to ignite hope for our future. Her honesty as she speaks to you and others, sometimes questioning the overwhelming goal of creating a swath of green more than 14,000 miles long, echoes our own thoughts. It’s this sincerity that connects us with her, even though we are tens of thousands of miles away.

As with all of Scott’s documentaries, the amount of information provided is mind-boggling, but not overwhelming. We learn about a previously unknown area, its people, traditions, and cultures. We discover new heroes who reside in everyday environments, sparking a movement that just might save our world.

Scott’s “The Great Green Wall” counter balances his previous film, encouraging us to take responsibility for our future and most importantly plants a seed of hope. The glorious musical overtones throughout the film are the through-lines, uplifting our spirits as we look introspectively to find solutions in our own back yard.

4/4 Stars

“Fantastic Fungi”- The scientific magic of mushrooms

October 16th, 2019 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Fantastic Fungi”- The scientific magic of mushrooms”

Hope. It’s what we’re missing when it comes to the future of the Earth, of humanity, but “Fantastic Fungi” is exactly what the doctor ordered. It’s this dose of hope that will inspire, educate, and renew your faith in Mother Nature and her ability to right the world. If this sounds like it’s too good to be true, think again and then take a moment to watch this visually arresting, entertaining, and thought-provoking film by Louie Schwartzberg, debuting at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Friday, October 18, 2019.

Schwartzberg tells the story of mycelium or the mushroom in this new documentary. He explores the often overlooked, but massive and interconnected magical kingdom responsible for delectable delights, decomposition of organic matter, increasing the soil’s nutrient base, and even curing diseases. Using time-lapse macro cinematography, “Fantastic Fungi” is simply mesmerizing, captivating you, as you find yourself forgetting to breathe. Schwartzberg’s masterful camera work is equally as engaging as the layered and complicated, yet easily understood scientific information. The research expressed via narration and interviews lays the necessary foundation for us to easily build a fortress of understanding. We learn about the true cycle of life, from the beginning of time to our current day and our future as well as the more immediate circle of life as living organisms die and prepare the ground for new life.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

The film’s focus, mycologist Paul Stamets, brother of Chicago film critic Bill Stamets, has devoted his life to the discovery of mushrooms and their potential to solve humanity’s problems. His interest in the topic is a story in and of itself, but his discoveries and knowledge, all gained in atypical ways, has opened the previously locked doors of life’s secrets. We also gain further knowledge with interviews from author Michael Pollan, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Johns Hopkins neurologists and psychologists, giving great credibility to the information at hand.

Learning that the base that supports all life is an interconnected microorganism called a fungi, there are more than 1.5 million types of these organisms. Without them, you (we) wine drinkers, beer imbibers, and whiskey connoisseurs, would find our cocktail time uninviting. On a more serious note, the hundreds of thousands of types of mushrooms, a part of this fungi family, promises to have the potential to solve our climate change issues and help develop cancer treatments. “Fantastic Fungi” reveals the real magic kingdom, showcasing this organism’s potential as well as its roots—pun intended–as it appears that we are all interconnected. It’s a symbiotic relationship among all living organisms with a more complicated communication system than ever before realized, but it’s up to us to unlock the code and discover the answers literally beneath our feet.

When Mother Nature created mycelium which, without getting into the science behind it all in this review, takes any organic material and can process it. Think about targeting a cancer cell with this and eliminating this lethal cellular machine. Or using a type of fungi to decompose an oil spill, turning the environmental disaster into a haven for new life. Schwartzberg’s painstaking research unfolds before your eyes in wonderfully entertaining ways as you witness the wonders and magic of the mushroom.

With so many doom and gloom documentaries about the future of our world, “Fantastic Fungi” gives us hope in a future. Our Earth is a precious space that is in dire straits, but stopping to listen, see, and open our minds to a new way of learning just might prove that we have a chance after all. I was swept away by this film, its imagery, and its potency. It has inspired me to learn more about mushrooms and what might be right outside my back door in my very own yard. I am inspired, but even more importantly, I am hopeful.

Do not miss “Fantastic Fungi,” one of the most beautifully powerful and intellectually stimulating films of the year and perhaps even the decade. Paired with “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” it’s a match made in heaven to give you a greater scientific understanding of the balance in which we need to strive.

For more information about this film, visit Fantastic Fungi
For ticket information at the Siskel Film Center where the film will screen Friday October 18th and 19th with Schwartzberg in attendance and through October 24th, go to Gene Siskel Film Center
4 Stars

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” Beautifully portrays the horrors of man’s new era

January 28th, 2019 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on ““Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” Beautifully portrays the horrors of man’s new era”

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” is the third film by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky to address the environment, preceded by “Manufactured Landscapes” (2006) and “Watermark” (2013). The film, narrated in layman’s terms by Alicia Vikander, gives us a stunning visual education of our current world’s state as we leave behind the Halocene Era, one which nature provides changes, to the Anthropocene Era, where man is responsible for all of them.

The opening scene is visually gripping as you are drawn to the flames like a moth that fill every corner of the screen, mesmerizing you with its beauty. You then find the source of the flames which engulf your visual field. The beauty quickly turns to horror and this visual slight of hand pattern occurs throughout the film. What initially is gorgeously striking suddenly comes into comprehensible view to create a disturbing image. It perfectly imitates our own consciousness as we are at first ignorant about issues, but then, with information, we are awakened and see things for what they truly are.

Baichwal and Burtynsky takes us on an extraordinary journey through time and around the world to explore and explain the effects of mankind on our world. Chapter by chapter, beginning with “Extraction,” we understand how our need for earth’s resources have inadvertently depleted other necessary resources. We start in Russia at a huge metal factory. To fuel the fire, trees are cut, but that is a source of oxygen not to mention the benefits of helping with processing carbon dioxide. There’s a delicate balance that has been tipped too far in one direction as the community depends on this plant for wages, but at the same time it’s hurting them. This juggling act, understanding and caring for our environment while attempting to give people a way to support themselves is always at the forefront as is the gluttony and greed, and the land is losing.

This is the theme throughout the film as we travel to Carrara, Italy and witness the extraction of the finest marble in the world. Seen from high above as a gorgeous symmetrical design we plunge more closely and our breath is taken away by the image that lies before us. This cinematic accentuation upon the narration clearly defines the irrevocable damage upon our planet. From the phosphate mines in Florida to the grinding jaws of machinery in Germany which appear like monsters rising above the clouds, we see a land that replicates a scene from “Mad Max” or “Mortal Engines.” There’s a sense of hopelessness at what has been lost.

The film looks at this new era of man, dissecting how we have impacted climate change and extinction of animals. Interviews with residents, employees, and those who are stepping up in an effort to make a difference, save endangered species, or protect our current state from getting worse, support the underlying feel of an emergency. For example, the president of Kenya eloquently states, “…blessings come with duties” as he refers to the land and the gracious endangered species of elephants and rhinoceroses roam the land. As we extrapolate the information, it is evident that our own demise or extinction is eminent. This is a warning tale, an eye-opening, riveting masterpiece of art and story that shakes your soul as it hopefully alarms you into action.

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” is masterfully detailed, captivating you visually with a subtle yet haunting musical layer to tell a difficult yet necessary story. From streets comprised of compressed trash surrounded by mountains of rubbish looking serene from high above and plats of water that reflect a contemplative neon green to rocky striations of reds, blues, purples and whites, appearing like ancient stone carvings only to be revealed as a signature of our chemical times and the imprint upon the earth’s surface. There’s an artistry in our devastation making it even more disturbing as you initially find beauty in it.

“Anthropocene” The Human Epoch” is a wake up call. A call to action. A call to awareness. And a plea to understand how we have left the Halocene Epoch and are now in an era of man’s giant and crushing footprint upon our world. The film’s beauty is undeniable as are the horrors it reveals. This is one of the most visually arresting and informative films about our world and our future.

For more information about the film at the Sundance Film Festival, go to SUNDANCE.ORG

4 STARS

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