Monday at the Movies – A Gasland In My Own Backyard

Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. The film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a stimulation method known as hydraulic fracturing (or in Australia we call it Fracking).

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This is a documentary that has been on my ‘to see’ list for months. Firstly because it was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, secondly because friends of mine had seen it and told me it was a ‘must see’ movie, and thirdly because 15 coal seam gas mines have recently been approved for development near my house. So last week when I wandered into my local library and it was sitting on the shelf I took it as a message from the fates that it was time I got off my backside and watched it.

Let me set the record straight from the very beginning – this documentary is terrifying. If even a quarter of what is shown is true then the oil companies in America have some serious explaining to do.

The premise for the film is that Josh Fox (film maker) has just received a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease his families land for natural gas extraction. Unsure of what to do he sets off across America to explore towns where the controversial technique of fracking has already been used. What he discovers will amaze you  – people with brain legions from exposure to unknown chemicals; contaminated water left in open pools to evaporate into the atmosphere; and even families that are able to set alight water flowing from the taps in their very own kitchens! This movie is about the contamination of water supplies by greedy companies only interested in increasing their bottom line.

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Josh Fox has created an entirely unique documentary. Filled with bitterly sad interviews with people affected by contamination from fracking processess, it overlays beautiful landscapes with more than a little banjo playing thrown in for good measure. The result is that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It is difficult to believe in a bureaucracy that allows companies to make ‘invisible’ pay-outs to avoid facing the music in a court of law. The only good news is that on June 23, 2011The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will examine claims of water pollution related to hydraulic fracturing in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Louisiana

This is is a ‘must see’ movie for anyone interested in… oh you know what… it is a must see movie for EVERYONE full-stop! I give it  my highest honour of 5/5 stars.

Have you seen the documentary? What was your opinion? Do you live in an area where hydraulic fracturing occurs? Have you seen first hand the contamination of natural water supplies? As always I would love to hear your opinion.

Jody Moller

For those of you in Australia there is a great GasLand Australia website here that collates all the most recent news articles and policy decisions regarding Coal Seam Gas Mining.

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Monday at the Movies – Harry Potter 7 Part 2 Review

Okay people – you had to know it was coming. Yes that’s right, last week I finally went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Now while I have been known to give JK Rowling a bit of a rough time, I am a fan of the Harry Potter series, while I don’t agree with all aspects of the books, or the movies for that matter (occulo repairo… really? and if the Dementors are not a straight up copy of the Ringwraiths I will give it away – but I digress) I think that what she has done to get young people reading in phenomenal.

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As usual I will try not to give to much away, but if you are planning on seeing the movie and don’t want to know anything about it there will be some spoilers included here so you probably should click away now, but come on, hasn’t everyone read the books? I am guessing that you already know how it ends.

For the same reasons I am not going to give you a detailed synopsis. But here is the brief version: Harry, Ron and Hermione search for and destroy Horcruxes. Final battle takes place at the school – Voldemort + Death Eaters vs Harry + teachers + students. The End.

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the film. If you are fan of the movies there are lots of long panning shots filled with familiar faces, which you will love. And all in all I think this movie was a fitting finish to the series. The action scenes were impressive and the survival of a particular character played better in the movie than it did in the book.

Okay, so now onto my gripes with the film. 

Gripe #1 – it dragged! I don’t know if it is simply because they split this book into two movies and therefore they had more time for long those long panning shots, or if it was just because I desperately needed to use the little girls room (I really shouldn’t drink diet coke at the movies) but this movie felt like it went for about 4 hrs. I must have checked my watch a hundred times.

Gripe # 2 – It was really not a kids movie. There were a couple of scenes in this film that had me cringing. I certainly would not have been comfortable taking any kid under the age of 10 to see it (and even over that age if they are a bit squeamish).

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Gripe # 3 – And this is the big one. They included the epilogue. I won’t repeat all of my problems with the final words of the Harry Potter books, you can read them here. I had hoped that they would leave it out (after all we have all read the book) but no it was there, larger than life. So why did I hate it so much? Well the epilogue is set 19 yrs after the end of the story which makes the main characters approx. 37. Did they look 37? No they looked like 22 yr olds playing dress-up (surely with the wonders of CGI they could have added some wrinkles or something). Also, I think that the scene before the epilogue provided a perfect end to the series, it was poignant and emotional (i even shed a tear) and then the epilogue ruined it!

(oh and a mini gripe – their was so little sexual tension in the kiss between Harry and Ginny that they would have been better off leaving it on the cutting room floor!)

In conclusion I give this movie 3 1/2 stars. It was good, but mostly because it was

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 the end of a classic series, with characters we know and love.

 

Did you know? That both Griphook and Prof Flitwick were played by the fantastic Warwick Davis (think Willow). Imagine the honour of being in two of the most incredible series ever to grace the big screen – Harry Potter and Star Wars!

Have you seen it? Did you like it? Did you agree that it was overly violent? Did you like the epilogue? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Jody Moller

Monday at the Movies – Up and Coming Films

Welcome to another edition of Monday at the Movies. Today I thought I might talk about some up and coming movie projects that I am particularly excited about.

1. Roger Rabbit 2

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As I have mentioned on here before I am a child of the 80’s (before you get your calculators out – no I wasn’t born in the 80’s but it was in the 80’s that I developed my love of film). One of my favourite movies of the 80’s was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film is a cult classic; a brilliant combination of live action and animation; great characters, including the devilish Judge Doom (portrayed by Christopher Lloyd) and the now infamous Jessica Rabbit;  a clever storyline; and some of the best acme products ever brought to life.

Now the rumours of a sequel to Roger Rabbit have been circling since the original was released in 1988. However, in recent months the buzz is back – big time! Apparently the film is FINALLY being made. Robert Zemeckis (original director) will be directing and at least one of the original writers is currently working on the script. The question on everyone’s lips though is WHAT FORMAT WILL THE FILM BE IN? For a long time there was talk of not only the cartoon portion of the film being animated but also the people via the wonders of CGI animation. Now I am sorry but – WHAT!?!?! The beauty of the first film was the ground breaking interaction between the live action characters and the animated ones. The humans NEED to be live action and Roger NEEDS to be handdrawn.

In my opinion (movie producers are you listening?) unless the plot for the story involves the rise and rise of the CGI animation, with up and coming CGI characters pitted against a collection well loved hand-drawn characters (which would make for an interesting story) keep the CGI stuff out of there.

Will Roger Rabbit 2 stand proudly beside its predecessor? Only time will tell.

2. One Shot

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Yes that’s right the one and only Jack Reacher is going to brought to the big screen. Not familiar with Reacher? Well you need to change that. Reacher is the protagonist from all of Lee Child’s novels (Lee Child is the pen name of Jim Grant) – and he is a great protag. An ex-military police officer now drifter that carries nothing but a toothbrush and the clothes on his back, he is vigilant, stoic and deadly. Great character and great news that he is going to finally be in a film – or so you would think…

So why am I less than enthused about this film? Casting! Reacher is described in the books as 6’5″, 250 pounds, ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He is strong, with a muscular physique and very little body fat. But most of all he is tall, really, really tall. So who is the number 1 actor that should NOT be playing Reacher? Well that’s easy, I hear you cry, that would have to be the exceptionally short Tom Cruise. Yes, that’s right he is only 5’7″ almost a full foot shorter than the character and yet somehow they have taken it upon themselves to cast him in this role.

I understand it is important to cast a big name in today’s hollywood to guarantee your movie will be a hit, but really when your dealing with well loved characters (I mean come on the 16th Reacher novel is about to come out) then you need to show a bit of intelligence, I am fairly certain that even standing on the box he uses to look taller next to his wife Tom Cruise can’t pull of 6’5″!

Also my ‘did you  know’ comment for this week is dedicated to my Mum, who after reading last weeks post informed me that I was a nerd of epic proportions; in her exact words ‘where on earth do you store all that useless information?’ Well Mum, this one is for you… Did you know that Reacher’s name came about when Jim Grant’s wife suggested that if the the writing-thing didn’t work out he could always become a ‘reacher’ (apparently what the British call people that stack shelves in the supermarket) – you learn something new everyday!

Looking forward to either of these movies? What do you think of the decision to cast Tom as Reacher? Any other up and coming movies you are looking forward to? Love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

Monday at the Movies – All Time Favourite

Welcome to the first post for Monday at the Movies. Choosing the topic for my first post was suprisingly easy – I am going to talk about my favourite movie of all time.

I, like most movie fanatics, have an endless supply of favourite films (as a child of the 80’s most of them revolve around Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Goonies, Back to the Future… you get the picture) and I am sure that I will expose you to many of them over coming posts but today I am talking about my absolute favourite movie.

Last week I was reading Bob Mayer’s Toolkit, where he speaks of being able to describe the idea for your novel in one short sharp sentence. I believe it is the same for movies. As Bob mentions in his book, the one sentence idea will probably have been done before but it is what you do with that idea that makes it great. I think this is more true for my favourite movie than for anything else I have ever read or watched.

So my version of the one line idea for my favourite film is – Two enemies must overcome irrevocable differences to find their way home. Cliche much? Sounds like a thousand other movies doesn’t it? But the way this movie deals with this cliched topic is the stuff of legend.

If you have worked out the movie already give yourself a gold star. If you haven’t I will give you a few more hints.

The first line of this movie is “This is a stick-up. Don’t anybody move.”

Got it yet? I could keep going (I am able to quote this movie from start to finish – I don’t know if that is an impressive achievement or just really pathetic!) but I won’t.

More hints required? The main characters are named Woody and Buzz Lightyear (and just a bit of trivia for you, he was in fact named after the astronaut!).

My favourite movie of all time is (I’m sure you have it by now) Toy Story.

Now try not to judge me too much, I know it is a kids movie (and no I wasn’t a kid when it first came out so I can’t even use that excuse), but I think the fact that it is a kids movie and still manages to top my list speaks volumes about just how great this movie is.

“You are a sad strange little man. You have my pity. Farewell” (input star trek hand signal here).

The reason this movie works, and moves beyond the cliche (in my mind at least) is the characters. And not just the two main characters, but all the supporting ones as well. Think of Rex and his self-esteem issues, and Hamm’s classic know–it-all one liners. Every character in this movie is crafted to perfection – we literally watch the toys come to life. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried at the end of Toy Story 3 (for about the first 10 viewings anyway) as saying goodbye to these amazing characters felt real – because THEY felt real.

 

This movie tops my list because it changed the way we watch film. It was the first full length computer-animated feature film (think about how many of these there are now!) and back in 1995 it was mind-blowing! There is a reason that Pixar are one of the few production companies that have not yet produced a dud movie – they spend months producing and outline and story boarding every idea to make sure that it works.

“A stranger, from the outside. Ohhhhh…”

Yes sure, this is a story about toys that come to life when noone is watching but it is so much more than that.

Obviously, given that it is my fav film of all time it gets the big 5 stars (*****).

Do you have a favourite movie? Do you have a favourite genre? Let me know your thoughts.

 

Jody Moller
(The Exasperated Novelist)