Movie Monthly: Caught Hook, Line, and Sinker
Adam (out on 14th August) is a romcom with a twist. It's a tale of a beautiful girl meets boy with Asperger's Syndrome, a condition that is a mild form of autism.
Adam (British actor Hugh Dancy) has the ability to encyclopaedically recall facts and numbers (particularly anything to do with Space). But he is not wired to comprehend nuance, inuendo, irony, or suggestion. He takes everything literally. The subtleties of body language or tone of voice go over his head. Naturally, this makes social situations awkward and meeting people incredibly stressfull for him.
This might not make promising material for a romance - but the film pulls it off reasonably well. Adam lives alone in a Manhattan apartment following his father's death. Egged on by his older friend and mentor Harlan (Frankie Faison), he begins to woo - in his own inimitable way - his attractive, upstairs neighbour Beth.
Naturally, there is scope for awkward situation comedy as the romance takes its bumpy path and as Adam is drawn into the Beth's social circle. Fortunately, writer-director Max Mayer doesn't overcook these scenes, the best part of the film. The relationship between Adam and the gruff Harlan, is also done with gentle humour and warmth.
As Mayer seeks a credible resolution to his set-up in the second part of the film, the story gets weaker. A secondary plot in which Beth's father (a smooth-talking Peter Gallagher) is put on trial for fraud, leads to some rather forced speechifying about the nature of truth. The story feels contrived, but it's not a total disaster. The performances are strong, holding the film together.
Quite different in tone is the documentary The End of the Line (out on the 31st), which presents an all-too-familiar story of global fisheries mismanagement and greed. The vividly shot documentary is based on the book by Daily Telegraph environment editor Charles Clover, seen here tracking near-extinct, blue fin tuna to posh London restaurants, and lambasting the response of politicans (“you can't negotiate with biology”) when dealing with no-holds-barred, fishing industry titans like Mitsubishi. Yes, I was surprised that the Japanese car giant also holds the future of the blue fin tuna in the palm of its hand. The doc suggests that Mitsubishi is buying up and freezing blue fin tuna in mega warehouses so that it make a financial killing by the species demise.
It's a gut-wrenchingly awful suggestion which I dearly hope is not true. But such is the way with supply and demand. The company that has the stocked up on the rarities - whether it is old growth timber or disappearing species of fish - will reap dividends. Or from the conservationist's perspective: the less there is of something, the fiercer you have to fight to save it.
A series of amiable marine scientists concur that having fished the big stuff out, we're now working our way down the food chain. Eventually, there quite simply wont be fish left in the sea.
On the positive side, Clover, an engaging English gent, suggests that the solutions are not as difficult as many ecological problems on terra firma. He says that if we act now, by creating marine parks and policing the oceans properly, we will see almost immediate improvement in the situation. Canada is well represented, with footage of angry East Coast fisherman following the Atlantic cod fisheries collapse, and interviews with Canadian marine biologists, including from UBC.
Rupert Murray's team bring memorable and often arrestingly framed footage from around the world to connect the dots between consumer tastes and ocean depletion. The film is grimly fascinating, and offers prescriptions for better fisheries management.
Rounding off this month, a couple of music documentaries: Soul Power (out on the 7th) is a funky documentary that revisits the music festival that took place in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Congo), just weeks before the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
The film shows over a dozen performances by musicians at the top of their game, including six songs from James Brown, “the man who will quiver your liver…splatter your bladder… freeze your knees.”
Then on the 14th in It Might Get Loud finds rock 'n' roll axe heroes Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2) and Jack White (White Stripes) find themselves together on an empty sound stage sharing stories and cranking out some tunes.