Louie Psihoyos' documentary "The Cove" is certainly a bleeding heart agitprop project... but it works and works magnificently. Expounding on the long-standing practice of Japanese dolphin slaughter on a little island known as Taijie, it often takes alot to move me and "The Cove" does it several times. Like a precise thriller or slow-screw-turning horror movie, Psihoyos and his team of animal activists give us tidbits of information- first charming nuggets about the level of intelligence within dolphins and the resurgence of the mammals' popularity after "Flipper" debuted in the 1960's- and then peels back the curtain to reveal a gripping espionage tale as the group attempts to document and record what is really happening in a two acre body of water just out of sight off the island. And when the images do come (something the film builds towards with thunderous propensity), it's a completely unnerving experience that I wasn't prepared for. And while those images and sounds will stay with you for days, the real heart breaker of the story lies in the main examination of Rick O'Barry- the perfect hero if there ever was one. As the dolphin trainer and head "capturer" of the dolphins for the Flipper show, he now dedicates his life to freeing the mammals around the world. The guilt of seeing his dolphins die in captivity strain his face and resonate in his voice. If nothing else, "The Cove" is a tremendous and moving confessional.
In the Loop
It may seem tough to create a roaring comedy about the various digressions and complicated bureaucracies of the policy-making bodies of the English and American government, but director Armando Ianucci's "In the Loop" does just that. I love this type of comedy- fast and furious scripted dialogue that flies at the viewer from all angles and causes one to acutely listen for the joke. As it is, we get brilliant little jokes such as:
"Go and talk to the senator's aid... the boy from The Shining... and see what you can get out of him".
"C'mon... it'll be easy peasy lemon squeezie."
No, it will be difficult, difficult lemon difficult."
There's not a false note in the ensemble cast.
Seamless, exceptionally creative CGI creatures aside, if there's no heart within the living characters in a certain film, then it fails. And that's exactly the case with Neill Blomkamp's "District 9", a film that cribs so much from previous sci-fi ventures that it feels like a television pilot retread. And when its not counting the odes to yonder days, it features a main character that's beyond sympathy or empathy. "District 9" does reach a few highs, but its message is glib.