- Category: Movie Reviews
- Written by Gilbert Seah
Not al the reviews are publsihed on the publsihing date of the article. A few reviews are added on from that date. Embrgo dates for the reviews as reqested by the film distributors are thus respected.
A few solid films opening this weekend including Universal's LET HIM GO, the scariest film of the year KOKO-DI KOKO-DA and the doc WATSON.
18 TO PARTY (USA 2018) **
Directed by Jeff Roda
18 TO PARTY is set in 1986 in small town America. The era is defined when the kids talk about President Ronald Regan and how they dislike him. The subject are the small town kids waiting to enter a local club to hear their favourite local bands. Trouble is that they are still kids and are only let in, if they are lucky once everyone else had got in, and at the discretion of the bouncer of the day. Such is the life of these kids who have nothing better to do but to complain about an assortment of things, argue among themselves and talk shit like the existence of UFO’s. No adults appear in the film.
18 TO PARTY seems very contrived. A whole lot of kids, mainly 8th graders talking about whole lot of shit. They go on and on about their own stuff. Nothing really interesting for adults and if you are an 8th grader, it is seriously doubtful that you would be interested in their talk either. Their talk comes and goes. At one point, one of them keeps asking his friend, who he is going to be sleepover with, if he can get back him to do his chores own he will be grounded. Another kid says doing the chores is like being grounded. He remarks that he is not likely rich kid not having to do chores. He is compared to being a little kid in little house on the prairie. The chores are described - cleaning out the garage; sweeping the floors etc. The topics of conversations change. New kids arrive and those that stay. take their turns with the conversations. The film feels too much like a play where each character has his or her say and then it goes on and on, talking about what they think.
At one point, one girl talks about being in a school play OUR TOWN. They then talk about it, making the audience aware of the film’s affinity to plays, particularly this one. Thornton Wilder ’s OUR TOWN is set in a small American town like the film. The play’s setting is in the actual theatre where it is being performed. The backlot of the club looks like the typical stage in a theatre to put up a play where the characters can move in and out.
Kids do not really talk like the ones in the film. They also do not take turns to talk like the typical characters in any play. In real life, kids’ talk are often silly and they normally play or good around and not just sit around and talk and talk and talk.
The different topics range from death and the coincidences of it being a jinx, UFO’s and a kid called Lanky who for some reason not mentioned is in a special school after being expelled. Lanky’s brother and girlfriend have both died from suicide.
At one point in the film, Lanky refers to the kids as faggots waiting to get inside the club. One would the think that writer/director Roda would be respectful enough not to have that term used in his film, not only that it is a degrading term but he makes it seem that is all right at any era to use the term.
There are better things to do, even during these Covid-19 times than watching these kids talking trash throughout in a film that ends up with a tacked-on silly happy ending,
CODED BIAS (USA 2020) ***1/2
Directed by Shalini Kantayya
Intelligence is defined by the military as ‘the gathering of information’. Artificial Intelligence is defined by scientists and engineers as learning that can learn from itself. The subject in director Shanlini Kantayya’s doc is face recognition, a form of artificial intelligence in which conglomerates by means of computers can examine the images of suspecting people and categorize them according to the information the computers already have on them. This is not right for it infringes on the rights of human beings. It is shown that in the U.K., people have been photographed and stopped from the pictures taken of them at random and identified, often wrongly that they identify with some criminal. The other factor is that the information is biased, favourable to the white male.
The doc goes on to prove the point taking the audience around the globe from the States to the U.K. to China, Africa and other parts of the world. The most insightful information about face recognition is that it is already widely used and the comparison is made of the U.S. and China. In China, every citizen has a social credit score. If someone says something bad about the government, his score as well as his or her family’s goes down. A girl in China says to the camera that she favours this, as she can find out the score of her potential date without having to find it out by first going on several dates with the person. The Americans say that they wish they would never reach this state in China. The doc states that there is a significant difference between China an the U.S. In China, all this is totally transparent while in the States, it is not. The recognition is hidden and used by companies for commercial purposes whereas in China it is mainly used for positive use.
One wishes that director Kantayya would have allowed the big businesses like IBM, Amazon and Microsoft have their say to defend themselves. The companies claim to be cooperative and it would have been eye-opening to hear what they have to say, whether true or false.
The doc follows two main characters. One is Joy Buolamwini, founder of The AJL ( the Algorithmic Justice League) who at one point the film, wears a super hero cape like a crusader for justice. The other is Cathy O’Neil, author of ‘Weapons of Math Destruction’. The two who know each other, having met at a bookshop where Cathy was doing a book signing, have worked together or the identical purpose of exposing the threats to civil liberties posed by an increasingly data-driven automation.
CODE BIAS ends like most documentaries touting injustice do, with a positive note, The U.S. has seen, as the film informs, many States banning the use of face recognition software with with Amazon putting a hold on its Face Recognition for a year. Still, there needs to be some federal approval on new algorithms as the film also informs. The fight is never over.
CODED BIAS’s virtual launch will kick off community screenings, and a series of online conversations with scientists and citizens across the globe about the ethical use of artificial intelligence. Coded Bias’s theatrical release is part of a national Science on Screen initiative, promoting scientific literacy through entertainment, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Coded Bias had its world premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The film is a necessary watch as everyone’s lives are impacted by this technology and even more so in the future.
THE DARK DIVIDE (USA 2020) ****`
Directed byTom Putnam
THE DARK DIVIDE is based on the story of renowned butterfly expert Robert Pyle (David Cross) who embarked on a life-changing trek through one of America's most important unprotected wildlands in the summer of 1995. Who would think that a film about a butterfly collector could be so endearing and captivating? A lepidopterist is a specialist in butterflies. Bob’s character is exactly what one would expect of someone with a hobby no one understands and likely pokes fun at. Bob is terribly needy, nerdy, naive and acts like a grown-up kid. After the death of his wife, Bob pushes himself (after given the drive from his wife) to the limit by hiking through Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest. His friend asks Bob when told of the quest: “Have you even gone camping before?”
The Gifford Pinchot - it is a National Forest located in southern Washington, USA, managed by the United States Forest Service. With an area of 1.32 million acres (5300 km2), it extends 116 km along the western slopes of Cascade Range from Mount Rainier National Park to the Columbia River. The film is shot on location there where the true quest of Bob takes place.
THE DARK DIVIDE immediately draws attention to the recent NOMADLAND with human beings being in tune with nature. With are separately different entities and both have their individual pleasures.
For a film about a butterfly collector, the film is full of surprises. Just as Bob lies in his tent all zipped up in the dead of night, he hears sounds of what could be wild dogs or wolves followed by horses. It is never made clear what the sounds are.
As Bob embarks on his journey, the audience is to be taken of a journey of discovery as the poster says, finding oneself by getting lost. While trying to net a butterfly, Bob almost falls off a cliff in one hilarious and stunning scene. He at another point, had his apples eaten by animals and the boy scouts and girl guides camping nearby give him advice as to hang up the food. “No one ever told me that.” Bob replies. Another hilarious scene has the camera focused on a flowing stream, as the water gushes over rocks. The next is seen Bob’s mesh tins and tin cups in the water as Bob has obviously fallen into the water. Bob also slips on bear shit while escaping a bear while taking a shit on his own.
Bob is soon known around the area as the butterfly man. He encounters a disgruntled ranger who he asks about whether she had seen Bigfoot.
The film’s best segment has Bob talking to other human beings. This happens in a few instances, where words are exchanged, often of intelligence and insight.
The scenery is also, as expected nothing short of stunning, courtesy of cinematographer Sean Bagley. The catchy music soundtrack really suits the wild setting.
THE DARK DIVIDE is in theatres now.
DINNER WITH FRIENDS (FRIENDSGIVING) (USA 2020) **
Written and Directed by Nicol Paone
This is the time of the year where Thanksgiving and Christmas films start appearing. There have been countless such films, most of them turkeys that are stuffed full of nonsensical silliness.
DINNER WITH FRIENDS arrives just in time for the American Thanksgiving. Most Thanksgiving films centre on the gathering of a dysfunctional family with excessive drama, skeletons coming out of the closet and unfunny high-jinx. Expect much of the same except that the people attending the dinner is not typical family excepting one mother and daughter but mainly ‘dysfunctional’ friends. But everyone still goes through the same shit. The film also deals with the relationship of two best friends, Abby (Kat Dennings) and Molly (Malin Akerman). They have both recently just been through breakups and have been there supporting each other. So, they had decide to have a Thanksgiving dinner - just the two of them. But the result ends up a dinner with more than a dozen friends and acquaintances. Molly’s mother, Helen (Jane Seymour) shows up uninvited, while inviting other friends including one of Molly’s ex-flames. Molly is currently seeing Jeff (Jack O’Donnell) who seems both a delightful human being and a great sex partner as evident in the film’s opening dominatrix scene.
The funniest of the guests is Molly’s old flame, a wanna shaman, Chelsea (Chelsea Peretti) who prefers being called a sha-woman. The script pokes fun of her musings. She shows up with some pie she made which looks totally inedible with a half purple topping probably made of health nuts and beans. The pie ‘described as organic garbage which should be punched up the ass’ is the agreed reaction that Abby volunteers. Claire talks about having to be alone with nothingness in order to find that something. They get into a big argument. Mother Helen is also quite funny, trying to flirt with all the men at the dinner. There are two cameos from Wanda Sykes and Margaret Cho who play two of the trio of Fairy God Mothers, though a bit too brief. A few lines of dialogue when Molly is on shrooms are also quite funny.
On the serious side there is a big verbal fight between Molly and Abby that is supposed to be the highlight of the film, similar to Herbert Ross’s THE TUNING POINT where Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine duke it out near the end. Unfortunately, the scene hardly generates much interest.
Director Phone attempts a few fresh approaches in the delivery of her film. One is the introduction of the two lesbians, invited to be possible dates for Molly. When each show up, their images are paused with their profile read out to the audience. Paone’s script tires to be as funny as rowdy as possible. She also has the guests to include different people from all walks of life from gays to blacks to singles to married, young and old, conservative and outlandish.
But director Paone’s desperation in making her film work is only too obvious when the film ends with the line: “Someone’s going to get laid tonight.” at least one of the film’s characters is going to have a good time unlike those watching the characters in the film.
THE KID DETECTIVE (Canada 2020) ***1/2
Directed by Evan Morgan
THE KID DETECTIVE is so called not because it is a family film, because it is NOT. It is so-called because the film’s protagonist began his sleuthing as a kid, when he used his brains to solve crimes in school - for example who stile the candy from his classmate. The film premiered at this year’s Toronto International FilmFestival. Not many have seen it for the reason that it was in the Industry Selects section, unavailable to the public. As press, I managed to catch this little gem of a mystery comedy.
The Patrick Chang murder is the latest case of the now grownup kid detective, Abe Applebaum played aptly by Adam Brody. Though the film is Canadian, Brody is American known for supporting roles as in MR. and MRS. SMITH and SMILEY FACE. As a kid by the age of 12, Abe was a celebrated small-time sleuth making headlines in his small Canadian town. Abe is grown up, made nothing of his life since then and hungover half the time. “You can’t play detective and assume everyone will go along with you. You got to grow up.” is the advice he often gets. If he stops a car following him, it turns out to be his concerned parents making sure if their son ran into trouble, they would be there to help.
What could be a classic film noir story is turned into a solid small town detective mystery. Do not let the title fool you. Though the femme fatale is a 16-year old teen, Caroline (Sophie Nelisse), the adult story involves drugs, pedophilia, sex with lots of swearing though with noticeably little violence. THE KID DETECTIVE may not be the best film of the year but the well written and executed adult comedy mystery is a lot of fun.
KINDRED (UK 2020) ***
Directed by Joe Marcantonio
Co-written by director Marcantonio and Jason McColgan, KINDRED is a psychological horror thriller set in a country mansion in the United Kingdom. It stars veteran Fiona Shaw playing the mother-in-law from hell (though the couple is question is never wed) and rising stars Jack Lowden and Tamara Lawrance.
KINDRED follows the dilemma of Charlotte (Lawrance). Charlotte is kept captive in the mansion and if she escapes, she has nowhere to go. She is forced to deliver a baby to her deceased boyfriend’s family, and she is thus KINDRED, as the film title takes.
When the film opens, Charlotte falls ill and throws up at work. At the Medical Centre, she is told she is expecting. Surprised at the news, she says out loud her doubts whether to abort or keep the baby. “Discuss it with Ben, Don’t rush to any rash decision.” is the doctor’s advice. The news throws her and Ben’s plans awry as they had planned to leave the U.K. and immigrate to Australia much to the dismay of Ben’s mother, Margaret (Shaw). Things take a worse turn when Ben is killed. Charlotte wakes up in Margaret’s mansion. The horror begins. Charlotte finds herself a prisoner with the crazy Margaret and her step-son Thomas (Lowden). They claim that Charlotte is unable to take care of herself and wishes to ensure the baby is fine.
The script paints a vague view as to Charlotte’s sanity. Charlotte has nightmares, often of ravens. Her mother had a mental condition. Charlotte is prone to outbursts and seems unable to care for herself. When she first throws up, she insists that all is well. This lowers the audience’s sympathy for her character and many will wonder if she be better taken care of in the mansion.
The story falls into predictable territory. In two of Charlotte’s escape attempts, she ends up at square one, back at the mansion due to the person she trusted having ties to Margaret. Charlotte and Thomas begin having a connection with each other, proving once again that the Stockholm Syndrome is well and alive in scripts on kidnapping.
The over use of Debussy’s “Claire Le Lune” does not help either. When Thomas plays the piece on the piano, it is continued with Charlotte playing on. The ‘yes, they play beautiful music together’ metaphor is a bit too obvious. The piece played again at the closing credits, make the film feel plagiarized even thought popular classical piece is given credit to Debussy. Too many films have used this piece on their soundtrack.
At times, KINDRED feels like Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY with the common theme of the baby being looked after at all costs, mother aside. This is especially felt, when Charlotte discovers that something had been added to her tea. Director Marcantonio is also fond of using Charlotte’s nightmares to add more chilling effects to his story.
With KINDRED’s script limiting all possibilities of Charlotte escape from the claws of Margaret’s family, one can tell the story can go nowhere with little surprises left. The result is a open ending where nothing else is left open for poor Charlotte.
KOKO-DI KOKO-DA (Sweden/Denmark 2019) ****
Directed by Johannes Nyholm
The title KOKO-DI KOKO-DA and the image of a cat in the poster gives the false notion that this is some Japanese animated feature. Far from it! The words stand for the noise a rooster makes, and the song sung by travelling entertainer trouper (Peter Belli) wearing a white suit with cane while doing nasty things - like murder again and again. The film can best be described as a nightmarish psychological GROUNDHOG DAY where the audience is force to watch the same horrific sequence again and again with a few differences but with the same result. The sequence is indeed horrific and in this time of the Convid-19 pandemic, the film might not be for everyone.
The film begins with this travelling topper with a giant of a man and a girl with long har. The man is carrying a dead dog while another dog is leased. They walk trough the woods - innocently enough, only to appear 30 minutes later in the film to create havoc on a couple.
The next sequence in the film cuts to a young couple, Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Edlund) and their young daughter who is given a music box for her upcoming birthday. The daughter dies in hospital after Elin gets sick, an allergic reaction that one assumes to be mussels she had eaten. They family are made up with rabbit faces to celebrate the birthday. The film then shifts to a 2 dimensional paper shadow puppet show in which the family is represented by three rabbits. A black rooster from the sky picks out the daughter who dies in the show.
The odd film moves three years into the future where Elin and Tobias go on a camping trip for their vacation. They encounter a horrific experience with the three intruders and enough need be said of the plot without spoiling more of the horror.
Director Nyholm who also wrote the script is an expert at creating horror with surprisingly little gore. Despite the repeating nightmare (or is it not a nightmare?), the scares get more intense. Unlike other films of this genre, Elin and Tobias learn only a bit from their past experience and end up in the same demise.
The script offers no explanation for the events taking place, and does not seem intent to do so. It really does not matter.
KOKO-DI KOKO-DA was supposed to open theatrically in NYC March the 27th, but I doubt it did. A very original film, despite its GROUNDHOG DAY theme, but be forewarned that this is one nightmarish film that is no easy watch. Will make one think twice before camping in the woods again.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to play at the Rotterdam Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival 2019 (WINNER! AQCC-Camera Lucida Prize), and Fantastic Fest 2019. One wonders the reason this scariest film so far this year was not picked up for the Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness.
LET HIM GO (USA 2020) ****
Written for the Screen and Directed by Thomas Bezucha
A retired sheriff, George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) is living a stable life on his farm ranch with his wife, Margaret (Diane Lane), son James (Ryan Bruce), his wife, Lorna (Kayli Cater) and grandson, Jimmy when tragedy strikes. James is killed while riding. Lorna remarries Donnie Weboy (Will Britain). Lorna and Donnie move out of the farm to live in the nearby town. One day in town, Margaret witnesses something very disturbing from the seat of her car. She sees Donnie hitting her grandson and daughter-in-law in bright daylight. Later, Donnie, Lorna and Jimmy disappear from their home. Still grieving over the death of their son, George and Margaret set out to find and reclaim their only grandson.
Good epics take their time to tell a good story. The film based on the novel of the same name by Larry Watson and the story that director Bezucha adapted from the novel contains one. There is also a long journey and a good build up of both suspense and mystery before the action starts. And when it starts, it hits hard.
LET HIM GO has well written female roles. The story pits the wits of two strong women against each other. The heroine is Margaret Blackledge who silently but surely controls the Blackledge household. By her sheer determinant and occasional silence she is able to get her husband, bound by her strength and his respect to grant her, her wishes, often at the risk of his own life. The villainess is the matriarch of the Weboy clan, Blanche Weboy (Lesley Manville, who delivered a strong Academy Award nominated performance in P. T. Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD), a personality outright loud and controlling and the main force governing the activities and decisions of the clan. In the journey to find their grandson, Margaret and George encounter an indigenous Indian, Peter Dragswolf (Booboo Stewart) who later has a positive impact on the couple in getting their grandson back. Peter is self-banished to live a solitary life but shown to be a man’s man with positive traits. The couple initially thinks him a thief, but their prejudice is shown false leading to an everlasting friendship. Films like LET HIM GO should be credited for being politically correct, written with strong female roles and with indigenous minorities portrayed in a positive light.
Performances are top notch, with Kevin Costner delivering a solid performance and Diane Lane portraying her character as a tower of strength. Kostner and Lane had portrayed husband and wife once before in the SUPERMAN film, MAN OF STEEL.
LET HIM GO is Thomas Bezucha’s modern western epic about a couple searching and reclaiming the grandson, a theme reminiscent of John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS in which John Wayne searches for his abducted niece. Though never reaching the heights of the Ford classic, LET HIM GO is a solid piece of filmmaking putting audiences in anticipation of Bezucha’s next film. (Bezucha last entry is his script for Mike Newell’s comedy THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PIE SOCIETY which I saw in France that was never released Canada.)
Universal Pictures Canada plans to release LET HIM GO in theatres on November 6, 2020 subject to theatre re-openings.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP (USA 2020) ***
Directed by Martin Wood
The festive season is almost upon us. Once November arrives, the first lot of Christmas films will be released - mostly comedies. Netflix, that needs to provide substantial content to warrant its subscription rate increases is first to jump on the band wagon with OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP. The film, is based on a real-life, ongoing U.S. Military mission - the oldest humanitarian mission our military engages in. “This is a from-the-heart, wonderful love story, wrapped around a true humanitarian endeavour that happens every year at Christmas. How wonderful (and sappy)! It all began when screenwriters Gregg Rossen & Brian Sawyer stumbled upon a video of the U.S. Air Force executing a Drop. The mission is weaved into a romantic comedy - which sort of puts a great deal pressure for the film to break out of the cliched romcom mode.
Chasing a promotion, congressional aide Erica Miller forgoes family Christmas to travel across the Pacific at her boss’s behest. The first part of the film shows how Miller has to ditch family plans for her job, and she is eyeing a promotion. Nothing new in the scenario. It is the typical where she will realize that career is not everything - something everyone already knows but do not follow. The scene in which Erica looks at the photograph of her late mother and says: “I’m trying”, says it all. Upon landing at a beachside Air Force base, she clashes with her guide, a hunky Captain Andrew Jantz, who knows her assignment is finding reasons to defund the facility. The pilot’s pet project — Operation: Christmas Drop, a genuine, decades-old tradition where gifts and supplies are parachuted to residents of remote neighbouring islands — has lawmakers wondering if his unit has too much spare energy. Despite their initial opposing goals, Erica softens once she experiences the customs and communal spirit of Andrew's adopted home.
The film boasts to be one for the first films shot on location in Guam, the film serving to be a tourist advertisement for the island. The inviting beaches, open markets and vegetation are all on display. It also features thrilling and exotic set-pieces - from C-130 flights to jungle scenes and helicopter rides including Christmas snorkelling - with nearly the entirety of the movie shot on location. Even the bar, Bamboo Willie's, was a practical location on the base and even some of the beach scenes were filmed on the base.” As there is no way to build an Air Force base for a movie unless one has a Cecil B. DeMille budget, - the film moves into one. The Navy is reported to have helped in providing two helicopters, a picture ship and a camera ship in order to portray an air-to-air sequence of travel to a distant island.
Well intentioned films do not always translate into good films. Apart from scenes of Guam, this exercise in Christmas goodness is exactly the reason one hates the commerciality of Christmas. But given the film’s limitations, OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP still manages to entertain, mainly because of the Guam Setting, the unfamiliar military setting and the often funny dialogue. Very Christmas sappy but I fell for it!
QUIET EXPLOSIONS: HEALING THE BRAIN (USA 2020) ***1/2
Directed by Jerri Sher
The words QUIET EXPLOSIONS do not sound welcoming. They refer to the damage done to the brain as a result trauma which could be physical or mental. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the subject of this documentary that kept me glued watching from the start to end.
Director Sher’s doc first introduces the brain with a 100 billion nerve cells, then the injury, explaining how it may be caused as well as the horrendous effects (insomnia, mood swings, nightmares, migraines, anger, memory loss), it has on the injured. A number of high profile patients are interviewed and they tell their personal stories, which are often both gut wrenching and sad. The talks are interspersed by the medical advice and counselling given by the expert physicians.
The stars of the do are the interviewees. The interviewees are nothing short of inspirational. The physicians particularly Dr. Mark L. Gordon have only the best interests of their patients in mind. Dr. Gordon would often visit the homes of his patients. His dedication is evident throughout in is dealings. Another champion for the cause is the podcast host Joe Rogan, a huge supporter of veterans and wounded warriors who brings in humour to the doc.
Additional hope and insightful methods are offered from experts Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Scott Sherr, Dr. Robert Sammons, Dr. Alan Sherr and Dr. Kristen Willeumier in this growing field.
The real heroes are the injury patients, who are brave enough to let their stories be told, so that others may benefit, for the good of mankind.
Among them are:
- MARK RYPIEN, the Super Bowl XXVI MVP winner and quarterback for the Washington Redskins. After a stellar career playing football, Rypien suffered severe traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
- ANDREW MARR, Sergeant First Class & Special Forces Green Beret, is the Co-Founder of the Warrior Angels Foundation, and co-author of Tales From the Blast Factory. His two tours in Afghanistan left him with PTSD and TBI's from the blast trauma, as he was a breacher blowing up buildings with explosives. He has the most screen time and the reason is apparent. He is able to elicit the greatest sympathy from the audience.
- SHAWN DOLLAR suffered thousands of concussions while surfing. At 32 he was the champion surfer holding the world record in Guinness World Records for the largest 61 foot wave ever surfed.
- JULIANNA HARPINE, one of the only two female patients interviewed was a gymnast since she was a child. Several concussions caused severe headaches and pain, such that she was ready to take her own life.
QUIET EXPLOSIONS is both inspirational and informative in its delivery of the miracle of the resilience of the human brain, giving us hope that human beings are capable of finding healing in the most desperate of illnesses.
QUIET EXPLOSIONS will be available on both DVD & SVOD in November the 10th, Tuesday.
WATSON (USA/Australia 2019) ***1/2
Directed by Lesley Chilcott
The name Paul Watson is by and large a household name. Watson or Captain Paul Watson is the captain of the Sea Shepherd aka Greenpeace, nicknamed the eco-terrorist as the environmental activist would stop at nothing to prevent damage to the animals of the sea. A hero by and large, there have been already many films made featuring Watson.
As of present WATSON is the latest documentary made on the man. Watson has been featured in any other media outlets. A biographical documentary on Paul Watson's early life and background entitled Pirate for the Sea was produced by Ron Colby in 2008. In the same year, the documentary At the Edge of the World chronicled the efforts of Watson and 45 volunteers to hinder the Japanese whaling fleet in the waters around Antarctica. In 2010, long time friend and filmmaker Peter Brown released the documentary Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist, a satirical look back at the last 30 years of actions. That doc features interviews and footage with early Greenpeace members Rex Weyler and Patrick Moore. In addition, Watosn was featured in a South Park episode ‘Whale Whores’ and a ’60 Minute’ episode.
One has to create shit to stop shit. This statement would likely run true regarding Watson’s activities. Greenpeace has called Watson a violent extremist and will no longer comment on his activities. Watson is thus a too interesting subject for a doc.
Paul Franklin Watson is a Canadian-American conservation and environmental activist, who founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an anti-poaching and direct action group focused on marine conservation activism. The tactics used by Sea Shepherd have attracted opposition, with the group accused of eco-terrorism by both the Japanese government and Greenpeace. Watson is a citizen of Canada and the United States.
Director Chilcott’s doc charts Watson’s early beginnings. The Toronto native joined a Sierra Club protest against nuclear testing in Amchitka Island in 1969. He was a co-founder of Greenpeace, crewed and skippered for it and a founding board member in 1972. He has been credited by The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other publications with being a founder of Greenpeace.
Chilcott includes the turning point in Watson’s life, the reason he has dedicated his entire life for the purpose. When stopping the Russian whaling fleet, he witnessed he killing of a whale right in front of his eyes. Watson speaks of the reason. They want the whales’ oil to make missiles which in turn would destroy human lives. “Everything I would do in my life would be for the whales.”
Chilcott does not forget that any film needs light and fun moments especially if it is a doc with a serious theme. In the film, the antics of the Sea Shepherd’s crew are recorded. The crew often consists of no less than 25 nations and they have a whale of a time (pardon the pun) on the ship when no cursing the fishing pirates.
The doc includes just a mention of Watson’s personal life. Watson regrets he is unable to spend enough time with his daughter. Watson has married four times.
Though there is nothing new in the doc WATSON that I do not already know about the man, director Chilcott’s doc is still a reminder of how much the world needs to change and do to in our lifetime.