Sunday, November 16, 2014

''INTERSTELLAR'' searches deep space, and finds deep divisions on Earth

Look, ''INTERSTELLAR'' is fine work of genius movie-making and Christopher Nolan is at the top of his game as a director. I enjoyed watching the movie myself, and was deeply touched by it as a movie fan who loves sitting in a darkened theater watching dreams unfold at 24 frames a second, even if some the movies are shot and projected digitally now. My film heroes are Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard and Steven Spielberg and Ingmar Bergman. So that dates me. I was born long ago, sure. I will die soon, sure. Facts of life. ======================================But this needs to be said too: While ''INTERSTELLAR'' searches deep space, it has also revealed deep divisions on Earth. ABout climate change and global warming. And that is all we should be talkiing about now. Enough with all tese distractions in a very distracted world! ==================================The time to focus on AGW and climate change issues is now, and not just in the USA, but worldwide. =========================So when film critic Noah Gittell, an NYU grad, published a freelance story in the Atlantic the other day headlined "Interstellar: Good Space Film, Bad Climate-Change Parable," it elicited over 200 comments in the ''after-article'' space, and all the divisions that Intersteller brought forth came out, or at least 200 of them. But Gittel wrote a very perceptive piece and it needs to be read again and again. His words were telling: "There is already plenty of evidence of America's alarming inability to reckon with climate change, but perhaps none is more surprising than this: Even Hollywood doesn't get it." And: "The entertainment industry is rightly thought of as a haven for [liberal] progressive thought, but in the last few years, while it has made big-budget blockbusters about income inequality (The Hunger Games), the dangers of a corporate government (The Lego Movie), and the surveillance state (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Hollywood has yet to adequately address the issue of climate change. Of course, neither has any government in the world, and maybe for the same reason: When faced with unpleasant realities, we all prefer a fantasy." And finally: "Which brings us to 'Interstellar'. The film has divided public and critical opinion; to some, it is a majestic and optimistic work of science fiction, but its detractors find the narrative structure too clunky, the dialogue too corny, and its insights about the transcendent power of love hollow and unearned. But no matter how you feel about Interstellar as a piece of entertainment, one thing should be agreed upon: As a climate-change parable, it fails." Yes, it fails miserably. Nolan could have made a cli fi movie, but no, he didn't want to go down that road. So what we got was an "event" movie, preceded by reams and reams of pre-opening PR and hype, with over 100 articles published before the movie even opened, and the studio PR people know very well how to market such "event" movies. Especially when the boat is being skippered by Nolan. And, of course, Director Nolan has every right to make the kind of movie he wants to, with the script he and his brother wanted and wrote, and with the themes he laid down on the many red carpets of Hollywood and elsewhere. So bravo, Hollywood, and bravo, Mr. Nolan. As Gittel said: "Climate change is never mentioned by name in the film, but ....Nolan uses its imagery to define the terms of his story. Interstellar is set in a near-future Earth on the verge of total ecological collapse, with drastic changes in weather patterns and devastating food shortages driving human beings to the brink of extinction. We never learn exactly what caused this devastation....." I say it was global warming impact events in the near future. very powerful AGW impact events that are coming down the road, a road that even Cormac McCarthy couldn't imagine in his powerfull cli fi novel ''THE ROAD''. Gittel again: " placing his [movie] in the context of our climate change crisis, Nolan has set up a false choice: In the world of 'Interstellar', humankind can either leave the planet behind, or it can stay here and die. The choices that humans -- here in the real world -- actually have to make regarding climate change and the future of the Earth are much more complicated, and are nowhere to be found onscreen." And Gittel nails it here: "Nolan fails to look inward and uncover the flaws and solutions in humanity; instead, he prefers to gaze up at the stars and fantasize." He added: "Of course, filmmakers have a right -- or even a duty -- to fantasize, but a small tweak could have made 'Interstellar''s message much more relevant to the present day." Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Didn't. C'est la vie. C'est Hollywood. "For those [of us] who care about climate change, the film feels like a missed opportunity," Gittel says, asking the $165 million dollar question: ''Why does Hollywood keep getting the environment wrong? Maybe it's for the same reasons that politicians have been unable to fix it: Because the ways that climate change and other environmental crises can be addressed are not dramatic or awe-inspiring." Ask around: many climate activists, from Bill McKibben to Joe Romm, and hundreds of others across the globe, from George Monbiot to Michael Svoboda and to countless bloggers across the English-speaking world's cyberworld, felt that "Interstellar" was a missed opportunity. As the Atlantic headline made clear: ''Good Space Film, Bad Climate-Change Parable.'' ''INTERSTELLAR'' searched deep space and found deep divisions on Earth among climate activists and climate denialists. As a movie, "Interstellar" can be debated forever and ever, tweaked this way and that, and POV are interesting and entertaining. For sci fi geeks, the film is a milestone: a sci fi wet dream. The fallout from the film was last for decades. This was an "event" movie that will endure for a 100 years. But Hollywood is slowly getting the message, that cli fi movies also can make an impact and bring in audiences -- and even make some money at the same time. From this year's INTO THE STORM and SNOWPIERCER, cli fi movies have rocketed to sky-high levels. Jake Paltrow's YOUNG ONES and David Michod's THE ROVER, too. And don't forget Darren Aronofsky's NOAH, set not in the future but in the great longago. So climate awareness is coming to Hollywood, and more and more cli fi movies will get GREEN-lighted (green used here in both senses of the word: money and climate change) as time goes by. And the annual Cli Fi Movie Awards, set up this year, and already announced online, are here to stay. See the winner's list and very good runnerup nominations, too, at So to Noah Gittle's qustion -- why isn't Hollywood making good movies about climate issues and global warming -- well, it is getting its act together and the next 80 years will see a goldne era of cli fi movie projects greenlighted and released by major Hollywood studios and independents, too. Cli fi has arrived. It took some doing, It took some time. It took some arm-twisting. It took some PR gimmicks and media spotlights. But yes, cli fi is here and it will make a huge difference in Hollywood over the next century of movie making. Watch when Hollywood makes and releases powerful movies based on novels like FLIGHT BEHAVIOR and ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW and SOLAR and ON SUCH A FULL SEA and CALIFORNIA and STATION ELEVEN and POLAR CITY RED. Oh, and MADDADDAM, that amazing work by Margaret Atwood is being turned into an HBO film directed by none other than Darren "Noah" Aronofsky. So all is well in Hollywood, Noah Gittell, and than things are primed to improve.

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