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More stomping from the Jurassic dinosaurs, a hopeful essay on climate change and real work observed

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Vancouver’s Velcrow Ripper and Nova Ami found their material across the world. In Venice where the water keeps rising. In California where cracks in the soil are the result of drought. In Vanuatu where sea water and cyclones make people feel “small and helpless”. Or anywhere, as people come to fear what one philosopher calls: “futurelessness.” The film doesn’t. It uses a recurring view of the monarch butterfly to affirm that living things are resilient and can morph into something new. It shows swimming pools turned into gardens, a desert habitat that uses water four times and never lets a drop get away, an ambitious solar energy program, constructions with materials held back from landfills and most intriguing, among the many ideas, vertical forests in Milan, Italy. Apartment buildings that have trees growing on every balcony. They absorb CO2 and release oxygen. Ripper and Ami will be at the Tuesday night screening to tell you more. Prof. Steven Sheppard, UBC, Faculty of Forestry will be there Wednesday. (VanCity Theatre) 4 ½ out of 5

You could make a double bill of it Tuesday, Thursday or the afternoon of July 1 with another climate change documentary bearing a positive message. EARTH: SEEN FROM THE HEART is from Quebec, also wide-ranging and visually attractive and also worth 4 ½ stars as I wrote back in April.

GOOD LUCK: For an experimental film, this one is unusually involving, immersive, hallucinatory even.  But you have to get into its rhythm to appreciate it. It’s slow, or seems so, with long atmospheric shots,  like a long elevator ride down into a copper mine, or the many instances of a miner staring silently straight into the camera—for minutes at a time; one for almost three minutes I noticed. It’s as if they were looking back at us urging us to form our thoughts about what we’ve been watching.

 

What that is comes in two parts: both about work in general, and miners in particular, in widely different situations but slowly revealing similarities. First we’re taken down into a deep underground mine in Serbia. It’s always night down there, one man says, but “You get used to it over time.” The camera glides through tunnels, watches a drill boring holes at length and the men walking through the pitch black with only their helmet lights piercing it. On a break they banter, answer questions about what they fear (“Nothing”, says one) and proclaim that what they seek is “a better life.” We hear much the same in part two, above ground, in an illegal mine in Suriname, a country north of Brazil. The men dredge the mud and pan for gold in what looks like an abandoned site. These men are casual. They sing (“gold money is here. Come and take it”); their talk is about jungle mythology (“If you spill blood, the jungle will ask for more”) and that they wouldn’t want their kids to work here. Ben Russell who makes avant garde films with an ethnographer’s eye, gets you thinking about a role range of topics in both sections. The National Society of Film Critics named it the best experimental film of 2017. This is its first run in Vancouver. (Cinematheque, Fri, Sun and Wed only)    3 ½  out of 5  

PAPER YEAR: The theme here is immaturity. I see it in two ways. First there's the story: young couple get married on an impulse (at the courthouse, without telling their parents) and now have to live with what they've done. They have little money and no resources. And soon get to arguing. Second, there’s the storytelling itself. It sputters.

 She, played by Eve Hewson (Bono's daughter and soon to be seen as Maid Marian in a new Robin Hood film), wants to be a writer. The only job she can land is at a low-grade TV game show where the producer is annoyed he can’t make moves on her and the chief writer (Hamish Linklater) does get with her, in a bar and then a car, and we’re wondering why. Girlfriends give her raunchy sex advice but that’s not reason enough. Her husband, played by Vancouver actor Avan Jogia (with TV credits and the up-coming Shaft movie), is an actor but only gets work house sitting and dog walking for a young B-movie star. His main achievement is to ejaculate on and then read the star’s diary. It’s contents are interesting, “poetic” somebody says,  but they don’t lead anywhere. Motivations aren’t clear in this story. Andie McDowell appears briefly as a mother with bland advice.  The two leads are appealing presences on screen but their spats are either shallow or uninteresting. Certainly no justification for what happens to their relationship. The film is written and directed by Torontonian Rebecca Addelman who scripts a Judd Apatow show for Netflix. She drew on a rocky relationship she had been in and may see more truth here than I do. The CBC helped fund it and is to show it sometime in the future. (Park Theatre) 2 ½ out of 5  

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