Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Film Review: Patagonia Rising

Michele Wilson-Morris

Pantagonia Rising, from filmmaker Brian Lilla, is a documentary about dams and their effect on the earth. This particular story is set in Chile, near two of the world's purest rivers, the Baker and Pascua. Five hydroelectric dams are set to be built near the rivers, which would involve displacing the people who live around them, as their lands would be flooded and their ways of life would be forever changed. Some residents view the electricity that would be gained as progress, while others see it as a total annihilation of lifestyles that have existed for many generations.

At this very moment, dams are stopping rivers from reaching seas all over the world. The major rivers that are affected include the Nile, Murray-Darling, Colorado, Indus, Yellow, and Rhine rivers, which no longer reach oceans as they once did. Many animals and species are extinct because of the damage caused by the interruption of the natural life and water cycles because of dams. In fact, the last century has seen the building of almost 50,000 dams globally, which have had an adverse effect on the environment. One fifth of all fresh water fish are extinct or nearing extinction. Ecosystems are destroyed by dams even though there is irrefutable scientific evidence that dams are harmful. There are 40% less plankton in the oceans, and organisms of all types are perishing. So why do the people who make these choices continue to destroy the world in this way instead of finding alternatives like solar or wind energy? Good question.

The Baker and the Pascua rivers in Patagonia will soon have dams built around them in a part of the world that needs to be left alone because of their link to biodiversity in rainforests, estuaries, and marine ecosystems. Patagonia Rising, which is a compelling and intelligent film, lays out the details in a very interesting and passionate manner, with interviews from the residents of Chile. Viewers will gain an understanding of who is behind the decisions that are helping to destroy the only planet on which we can reside. While those who wish to build dams would point the finger at global warming for the disasters they cause, this documentary is clear about why we don't need to ignore the signs. Now is the time to modernize and improve our methods for energy production.

Thought provoking and insightful, Patagonia Rising will both educate and entertain. It is imperative that we take action to stop things that, once set into motion, cannot be reversed. Man must learn from the past and present. The question is, will we? And if we do, will it be in time to save the earth and ourselves as well? These are questions that have yet to be answered.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Film Review: Proteus

Charles A. Smith

David Lebrun's documentary "Proteus," is a brilliant piece of cinematography that was made over a 20 year period. The film is a stunning 19th century vision of the world of science, the sea, and new discoveries by the pioneer Ernst Haeckel.

Haeckel made many important discoveries about sea life that influenced the work of not just biologists, but Art Nouveau and Surrealism, Sigmund Freud, and even Thomas Edison. But more than that, he shaped the thoughts of the order of things in the scientific world. Haeckel was the first to find the radiolarian, a one celled organism that lives in the oceans around the world from the shores to the deepest depths. As both an artist and scientist, he did not reject that which was unseen, and his life and research seemed to be on a path that was predestined, though he did give some thought to abandoning science once he discovered his artistic abilities. Fortunately, he did not, and both served him in his work classifying creatures of the sea. He alone discovered and categorized more than 4000 species.

There are 5000 known species of  Proteus (or radiolarian) over 500 million years old, and they come in many different forms. Haeakel made a picture of each one and in "Proteus," Haeckel's work is accessible to the viewer. This research is from a time when there was no equipment to photograph these creatures, so he painted them using a microscope. His work is astounding in detail and reveals the stunning beauty of nature. Haeckel's was a time of cell discovery, and the realization of the fact that the cell is the building block of life.

During Haeckel's time, the knowledge of the sea was like space is to us now, and man had only gone down 100 feet. In an attempt to connect the continents, cable was laid from Britain to New Finland. When it was raised, simple living organisms were discovered. A scientific expedition gathered the unseen samples from the bottom of the seas all over the world, and Haeckel was commissioned to study them. His work is shown on this breathtaking and amazing DVD, which is full of beautiful art from both nature and man. This visual treat will send you to the far reaches of the solar system and mind. The life of this man and the people of his time are very intriguing. The way they thought and looked at the world is quite interesting knowing what we now know. Viewers who like history and science or those who thirst for knowledge in general will love "Proteus." It is a well made, astounding film that documents history in an utterly impressive and visually stunning manner.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Film Review: Beyond Hatred

Charles A. Smith

"Beyond Hatred," an Oliver Meyrou film, is a compelling and engrossing documentary about a family and their pain in the aftermath of the murder of their son Fracois Chenu. The 29 year old Chenu, who was gay, was attacked and killed in 2002 by three neofascist skinheads in a pubic park in Rhine, France. His murderers were there looking for an Arab to attack, but found Chenu instead. When he refused to renounce his homosexuality, he was beaten unconscious and throw in a into a pond, where he drowned. 

"Beyond Hatred" takes a deep look at hate crimes and homophobia, and a family's struggle to forgive the unforgivable. The Chenu family was kind enough to let the world in to the empty space left behind such an outrageous act. Questions are presented that are thought provoking and enlightening. Young people following strange ideals and parents standing back as they do is part of the cause. The inability of some to not accept others for whatever the reason is revealed in this as insanity. The lessons found here are difficult, but important. Long after this heinous crime was committed, as the family tried to go through the healing process, the trial began and the unleashing of raw emotions and wounds began anew. Still, Chenu's family sought to take the path of forgiveness and civility, as much for their own survival and sanity as for anyone else. 

This well produced film is shot with simplicity to allow the subject matter and emotional content to tell the story. "Beyond Hatred" is a very moving and disturbing look at what some members of our society have become, in an effort to stop the progression of such evil. You will feel deeply for the victims, and even have some compassion for the murderers. But most of all you will come to know that society must change its mindset of intolerance for others who are different. This is a powerful story of pain and humanity. The documentary is in French with English subtitles. I highly recommend this film!!

Film Review: Fidel

Charles A. Smith

Fidel Castro is known by many things to many people. To some he is a leader, and to others a dictator. Do Americans really know that truth about the man who reigned over a small island just 90 miles from U.S. shores? What he has really done for the his country, the people of Cuba, and the world? "Fidel," from filmmaker Estela Bravo exposes the Miami lobby against Cuba that keeps Fidel and his country from prospering because of the U.S. embargo that has gone on ever since his revolution. The U.S. has made peace with all of the countries that we once opposed in war. We have forgiven the Japanese, Koreans, Germans, Vietnamese, and we do business with communist China and the Soviet Union. So why does our powerful nation continue to hold the island of Cuba at bay? The truth is on this DVD and it is a must see film about a great world leader.

Loved by his people even now, Castro has kept his revolution alive and his country independent, not allowing it to be exploited by the interests of American big businesses. With live footage of Che Guevera, the young Fidel Castro, and renowned reporter Edward R. Murrow, you will be moved by the truth about this great man. Castro did things far ahead of his time like trying to form a union between the countries throughout Latin American in 1959. He sent troops to Angola when South Africa violated their borders, helping to defeat the South African Army and setting the stage for the end of Apartheid. 

A charismatic personality and strong speaker, Fidel was easy to love and was warmly received in America, especially in Harlem. However, Nixon wrote in his report that he was a communist and needed to be overthrown. Since that time, the CIA has made numerous assassination attempts on his life and failed. But the true story about who Castro really is and how the American government has used wrongful and hateful policies and tactics to mislead its citizens about him and terrorize millions of Cuban people and their leader is now being told. This fascinating documentary reveals Castro's true identity and the propaganda that we have been told and believe. This is a must see documentary for anyone who really wants to know the truth.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thank You For Your Patience

The Entertainment Bank thanks you for your patience. We will be back with more reviews in the next couple of days, and will be adding all genres of movies to the body of work that we review. Thank you for stopping by The Entertainment Bank, and please come back again in a couple of days to see more of what you love!! We'll be bigger and better than ever!!

Michele Wilson-Morris
Founder & CEO
The Entertainment Bank