Another week, another green, red and paisley dollar to buy a ticket to the cinema. Must be something in the air because this week seems to be front-loaded with documentaries — and that’s a good thing!
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power rolls out (former Vice President) Al Gore to examine where we stand eleven years after the award winning An Inconvenient Truth. And it comes as no surprise that global warming is even more alarming now than it was then.
Gore teaches volunteers how to educate people to the scientific realities of weather change. One of those seminars was recorded at MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston), which, as the sparrow flies, is a mere mile from Free Press Houston World Headquarters. Gore also visits the mayor of Miami who takes him on a tour of a major Dade County road that nowadays floods during high tide. In the film, you can see ocean fish swimming along the asphalt floor!
In the film, Gore wears a lapel pin that’s a green circle.
“The green ring is part of the Climate Reality Project’s logo, where it encircles the globe to connect us all. It also acts as a representative of the atmosphere we are fighting so hard to protect. It was designed in 2013 as a symbol of the project’s trained Climate Reality Leader activists around the world could wear,” says the Paramount publicist who responded to my question about the lapel pin.
An Inconvenient Sequel premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year, yet the film has been since tweaked to include the events of a few months ago (June 1) when President Trump rejected the Paris Climate Accord.
Perhaps my favorite part of the film has Gore traveling to Georgetown, Texas to interview Mayor Dale Ross. Georgetown is the only town in Texas that uses 100 percent renewable electricity. Georgetown gets wind power from Amarillo and solar power from West Texas. I emailed a friend who lives in Georgetown as to what his monthly electricity bill for a three-bedroom normal-sized suburban house was. It turns out my friend, who for anonymity we shall refer to as Hap, not only grew up three houses down from Mayor Ross when he was a kid in Stafford, Texas, but pays approximately $270 a month for electricity in said town.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power will play best with the choir and unfortunately fall on deaf ears elsewhere.
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” opens in area theaters this weekend.
Step documents a Baltimore high school girls’ dance team over the period of a couple of years. In the unfolding, we recognize universal truths about the relationship between parents and children while also taking in significance of news making benchmarks.
The neighborhood where some of the high school dancers live was where Freddie Gray lived. Gray turned up dead while in police custody, and his death sparked riots in Baltimore in 2015.
Director Amanda Lipitz often reduces the film to bullet points of the year in training and the subsequent competition, yet after a heart-whelming finale you realize that she avoided the very trap so many documentarians fall into. Lipitz keeps the facts to a minimum while avoiding the too-much-information blunder.
The main dancers – Blessin, Cori, Tayla, Gari and Paula – have issues with grades and parental support; all of which becomes apparent as the camera invades their homes and examines how they live. Step has inspirational moments that are never exceeded by the film’s unintentional exploitative beats.
“Step” opens exclusively this weekend at the River Oaks Theater.
Wind River shows that writer/actor Taylor Sheridan has found his true niche as a writer/director.
Sheridan broke into the biz over two decades ago playing minor roles in television shows as diverse as Walker, Texas Ranger, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, to more current shows like Veronica Mars (Danny Boyd) and Sons of Anarchy (Deputy Chief Hale). Thing is, Sheridan has also written two of the great crime thriller scripts of the last few years – Sicario and Hell or High Water (Oscar® nominated).
Wind River takes place at a Wyoming Indian reservation (the film was mostly lensed in Utah). The social mores on the reservation dictate a different set of rules than the nearby town. In fact, the reservation has its own police force (six employees presiding over an area the size of Rhode Island) and separate rules of interaction apply. Sheridan mines this thematic spine in an eloquent manner.
When a US Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds a dead body on the reservation, he becomes involved in the subsequent investigation. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner, with supporting roles played by Kelsey Chow, Jon Bernthal, Graham Greene and Tantoo Cardinal among others. Snowy weather also plays a large part in the plot, so much so that the falling snowflakes are like characters.
At first, Banner seems inexperienced, but she soon shows her true abilities under fire. Lambert usually hunts rouge wolves and mountain lions that are attacking farm animals, but his tracking skills play a large part in cracking the case.
While there’s minimal violence at times, Sheridan waits for exactly the right time to introduce the best armed-standoff since Inglourious Basterds.
The actual murder (and rape) occurs in a late second-act flashback that totally takes the audience by surprise.
At another point, Lambert comes across the mountain lion den. In another surprising turn, we realize that the lions are not the most dangerous animals in the snow-capped peaks.
“Wind River” opens this weekend in area theaters.