Green (and not-so-green) Summer movies

Green themes in this summer’s movies range from M. Night Shyamalan's eco-thriller, The Happening, starring Mark Wahlberg and John Leguizamo, and The Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton, who embedded eco concepts into the script. See National Geographic Adventure’s interview with this solar advocate on how much further showbiz has to go with greening. At the box office this weekend, Pixar’s Wall-E stars robots left to clean up human trash in a world wracked with over-consumerism. If the marketing campaign’s Wall-E Kleenex boxes of post-consumer waste isn’t ironic enough, how about the merchandising of plastic action figures, clothing, and bed sheets?

The L.A. Film Festival, currently underway, shifted gears from 2007’s “Green Day,” (which featured eco films and info booths) to behind-the-scenes greening: catering with organically grown produce from local farms and using biodiesel-fueled generators. It also boasts recycling paper, glass, and plastic (is that even worth mentioning?); eco-friendly inks (nice); and carbon offsets by TerraPass. Partnering with NBC Universal, the fest closes June 19 with Hellboy II: The Golden Army, a supposed eco-friendly-ish production (its viral website, Humans for the Ethical Treatment of Fairies, Elves and Trolls calls for a stop to old-growth tree logging). Note: Paper or Plastic?, screening this week, is about grocery baggers, not the BYOB (bring our own bag) issue.

With off-shore oil drilling up again, the recent Maine International Film Festival screened A Road Not Taken about oil dependency and lack of political will to pursue alternative energy. The documentary follows solar panels installed by President Jimmy Carter at the White House in 1979. (So that’s how a President addresses a gas crisis.) Removed by Reagan and exhumed by actress Glenn Close for Unity College, the panels landed at the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum.

A new film club, Earth Cinema Circle, ships four eco films every other month for $18. Current fare includes Power Shift, narrated by Cameron Diaz. Members get to keep the films or pass them on to friends, family, or perhaps members of Americans for Prosperity. These ostriches launched the Hot Air Tour, flying six-story balloons, including one over Al Gore’s home, bringing attention to “global warming alarmism,” claiming the environmental movement causes “lost jobs, higher taxes, and less freedom.” (Talk about fear mongering!).

Dave Letterman and Billy Crystal offer their own “Unlikely Alliance” with a send-up of the We Can Solve It campaign. The ad features some amusing lines and tough truths, but has little to do with global warming.

And in non movie-related news:

Comic George Carlin, 71, died this past Sunday of a heart attack. His counter-cultural commentary led the way for freedom of speech in the media and arts with his "Seven Dirty Words" skit, which in a ground-breaking ruling, the Supreme Court determined was "indecent but not obscene." He was selected this year to be honored by the Kennedy Center's prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
On the environment, he sang: "Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain, for strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain. America, America, man sheds his waste on thee, And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea."  In his "The Planet is Fine" bit, he predicted: "The planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!...Pack your shit, folks. We're goin' away." Bye, George, thanks for the meaningful laughs.



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