Friday, June 16, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

An Independent Truth is the single most important film of the 2006. Global Warming is real and it’s happening right in front of us - despite what the nice man who sold you your Hummer lead you to believe. In fact the signs are becoming so evident that the younger generation is looking to the older with increasing skepticism and questions on how they could let such a thing happen (and are still allowing it to continue). This is the first of two important documentaries that looks at the problems of our culture and solutions that are both being ignored by those with deep pockets who want to squeeze every last red cent out of the Oil Industry and the planet before even contemplating change (the second Who Killed the Electric Car? will be out by the end of the month).

Gore’s documentary is beautiful in its simplicity. He goes over the basics of the science of global warming (with an exceptionally funny cartoon from Futurama creator Matt Groening) and then gives visual evidence of the change in climate from different locations all over the globe. From mountains to valleys, from rain forests to the arctic, one thing is clear - humans are having a tremendous effect on our environment.

Gore spends time on the scientific data including how it is obtained, how it was used back in the 1960’s to correctly predict where we are today, and finally what it predicts for the future. He points out that scientists agree (despite what negative campaigns in the popular press would like you to believe) that Global Warming is real and getting worse. Gore not only makes his case (in devastating and sometimes slightly humorous fashion), but he does it in such a manner that you wonder just what’s wrong with those who still can’t accept the facts about Global Warming.

The film is centered on the presentation (or “slide show” as Gore calls it) that he has been doing for three decades in numerous cities all over the globe. This is a man that has travelled to the far reaches of the planet, forced the government to release “confidential” reports, and has studied and now taught about this issue for years. He is cool, calm and collected but also passionate and imploring about the need for this issue to be discussed and serious change to be brought about.

Throughout the film we are shown a little into Gore’s history and how his personal experiences and tragedies have shaped how he views the problem of Global Warming. At first these small snippets seem to take you away from the film’s main message, but the more you watch the more you understand how these experiences shaped Gore into the person who has spent half his life championing this cause.

In many ways the film is heart-wrenching and disturbing but it is not a doomsday scenario. Gore points out that we have what we need to stop these effects and scale back the damage we are causing to the environnment. It just takes time, effort, and political will (which as Gore states is a renewable resource in this country).

If you only see one film this year go see this one. I’ve seen it three times now. I’ve seen it with friends and relatives and I plan to take others with me to see it again. Gore’s message must be heard; its too important not to be. Whether Republican or Democrat, whether you like him or you don’t, if you care about the world you are living in and you can about what world you will leave to your children, then go see this film. It’s not a political attack ad. It’s not Gore’s attempt to begin a Presidential campaign. It’s deeply personal issue that effects every man, woman and child who lives on this planet. It’s a moral issue, and it needs to be addressed.

Friday, June 9, 2006


Everyone else stop making animated films because Pixar has cornered the market. With Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and now Cars Pixar is dominating the genre in such a way that if it can continue will rival that of Disney’s golden age (no surprise why Mickey dipped into his deep pockets to bring Pixar under the Disney banner).

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is the young hot shot can’t miss next big thing in racing with an ego to match. In a three way tie for first place with the retiring champ The King (Richard Petty) and rival upstart Chick “Thunder” Hicks (Michael Keaton), McQueen is just days away from the biggest race of his life which will bring him the fame and glory he so deeply covets. However he gets lost on the way to California and ends up in the sleepy small town of Radiator Springs where he is spooked into accidently causing damage that he is ordered to repair by Judge Doc Hudson (Paul Newman).

As McQueen complains and sees his chance at greatness slowly slipping away he learns to appreciate and connect with the members of the small town including the local D.A. Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt), the junkyard pick-up Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the Ferrari crazed Luigi (Tony Shaloub) and Guido (Guido Quaroni), the stuck in the 60’s VW bus Filmore (George Carlin) and slowly starts to learn that maybe money and fame aren’t the only things worth caring about.

If the plot of the movie sounds familiar you probably saw the 1991 Michael J. Fox romantic comedy Doc Hollywood which bears a striking resemblance to this story. The story carries a message about small towns and the speed of big city life but is patient and doesn’t hit you over the head with it. Much like the small town charm of Radiator Springs itself Cars just wins you over the longer you stay.

The animation is just jaw-dropping amazing. The level of detail needed to do a film filled with metal characters is high (think Robots but done twice as good with characters and a story worth caring about). The race scenes of the stadium filled with cars, lights, action, movement, reflection, are so spectacular you won’t believe your eyes. And slyly while that’s happening the heart of the film will win you over completely.

Every choice made here is the right one from the choice of announcers - Darrell Cartrip (Darrell Waltrip) and Bob Cutlass (Bob Costas), to the voice of McQueen’s agent Harv (Jeremy Piven), to the perfect casting of the look of late night host Jay Limo (Jay Leno). All of that and I haven’t even touched on the great performances from the likes of Richard Kind, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, and many others.

Some movies are just a joy to watch. From begining to end Cars belongs on that list. If there’s one film that’s worth taking the entire family to see for the pure enjoyment of what summer movies can be it’s this one. Hop in your car and drive on down because this might just be the most fun you’ll have all summer long.