June 04, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

This weekend we saw two movies in the theater, which is completely unheard of for us. We always plan to do that kind of thing, when there are multiple movies out that are worth seeing, and we can't decide between them. But then our laziness wins out and we don't make it out of our pajamas.

The first movie we saw was Thank You for Smoking, the satire about the tobacco industry. We saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse where they ran old smoking ads on the screen before the movie started. It was like seeing scenes from an alternate universe. It's been so long that we'd actually forgotten how ridiculous smoking ads were. And when you see Fred Flintstone touting the benefits of Winstons, you wonder how the cigarette companies were ever able to claim they weren't targeting children. Everyone in the movie (with the exception of Katie Holmes) was really good. Aaron Eckhart was mesmerizingly effective as a "sultan of spin" for a lobby group representing the interests of big tobacco. Katie Holmes wasn't awful, but post-"Dawson's Creek", I always get the feeling she's just playing at being a grown-up. She 's continually cast in femme fatale type rolls, but how can I buy that of a woman who can best be described as "coltish"?

The second movie we saw was An Inconvenient Truth, the new Al Gore documentary about the environment. In its second week of release it has earned $1.33 million, even though it's only playing in 77 theaters. The film does suffer from the same problem that plagued Al Gore's presidential campaign- too many damned numbers. It gets dry in places where the statistics and graphs chronicling the amount of CO2 in the air over centuries nearly induces catatonia. But the movie becomes exceptionally effective when he's able to show photos of places like Mt. Kilimanjaro and Glacier National Park and you can see side by side, the amount of ice that covered those places 20 years ago and how much less ice covers them today. Gore makes an excellent teacher and he's passionate enough about his subject to really induce the liberal guilt (okay, we get it, we'll buy the energy efficient light bulbs and a Toyota). The film also does a great job of painting Al Gore as a lone maverick, traveling the globe on a mission to educate the world about the catastrophic threat of global warning- city by city. I found myself buying the image (but seriously, like the man carries his own luggage?) and I think he might just be a hero.

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