Darren Aronofsky Ought to Make an Oil Sands Documentary

Cenovus’ Christina Lake oil sands operation

Darren Aronofsky’s been making the rounds on the internet recently more for a piece of environmental writing published on The Daily Beast than for one of his films, so it seems to me the only logical next step would be to combine the two. Did anyone else notice that an incredible story readily discloses itself in Aronofsky’s diary? It reads almost like an environmentalist version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, with environmental violations taking the place of slavery, the oil-profiteering Suncor dutifully filling in for the tyrannical slave-dealing Company, and things looking bleaker and grimmer for the human race as Aronofsky and his team travel upriver.

Continue reading

Advertisements

When a documentary functions as an artistic credo: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Jiro Dreams of Sushi is available on Netflix.)

When one first learns that the price for a plate at Jiro’s world-renowned sushi restaurant begins at 30,000 yen, or $300, the mind reacts in two ways. Either it balks or it bargains. If it balks, then perhaps it is reminded of similar outrageously expensive food, like that $1,000 pizza in New York. In that case, the rebarbative concoction, loaded as it is with caviar and lobster, wastes its ingredients while it overcharges for them. Nevermind the idiocy of baking truffles in creme fraiche (where the fat from the latter and the heat from the oven overpowers any nuance in the flavour of the former) and serving it on a pan of bread, the whole thing arrives to the customer a greasy, congealed mess fit only for the blind and nouveau riche. Don’t even get me started on the $25,000 sundae. If I wanted to ingest five grams of gold I would just drink a few bottles of Goldschläger in a single sitting (at least that way the alcohol would stand a good chance of blocking out the thought of wasting so much money). Compared to this then, $300 for an actual meal seems like a steal.
Continue reading

Documentary to check out: “Death By China”

Though the subjects in Peter Navarro‘s patriotic lament for American industry occasionally lapse into fear-mongering doomsday proclamations, this lean, mean documentary nevertheless loosely sketches the growing and troubling issues developing in the US as it exports its manufacturing base on a one-way street. Unabashedly one-sided and hopelessly short of solutions, it nonetheless makes a compelling case for the argument that trade reform with China is vital for a prosperous American future (which obviously has a large impact on Canada as well). If nothing else, would-be filmmakers would do well to watch it as an exercise in creating a compelling evocation of dread. Agitprop cinema rarely has me so fired up. The narrow picture it presents suggests more widely available information on this issue is needed (if anyone knows of any such material I would be grateful to learn of it). I admit I may be taken in by the pathos of this documentary, yet it nonetheless seems an issue worth investigating.
Continue reading