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GASLAND: Movie Review

A literal display of TOXIC AVENGER!

At this very moment I’m 100% sure there are documentary filmmakers working on the current oil spill in the Gulf. Whether they complete the job or not in time is an irrlevent question seeing as it seems like there’s no end in sight. Its pretty much mother of all fuck-ups and it makes me cum at the thought that this oil spill has and will continue to present the rats over at BP in the spotlight. I also cum at the thought of exposing how unpreparied we REALLY are for any kind of dissary that erupts from one day to the next. I guess it’s true – the bigger they are, the harder they fall. It seems to me America only moves when the shit hits the fan, but as history proves it’ll always repeat itself and for those unaware of what I mean – well, Google Gulf oil spill from June of 1979 and you’ll see what I mean. Same people, same fuck up, same hopeless feeling… On top of that, research global oil spills and take a look at how this situatin isn’t really new. Its just making noise because it happens to be occuring in the “mightiest” of places. I can only hope this spill tied in with this film can HELP raise awarness.

While on the topic of natural resources, who could have anticipated that one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years would be the work of a Gotham theater director who’s never before made a doc? Nobody, perhaps least writer-director Josh Fox, whose “GasLand” may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what “Silent Spring” was to DDT. The rare example of cinema art that is also an organizing tool, the pic has a level of research, gutsiness and energy that should generate sensational response everywhere it plays.

While Fox’s theater group, Intl. Wow Company, creates work with social and political content (including his wild, first feature about returning vets, “Memorial Day”), his achievement with “GasLand” is of a greater level of art and activism. Narrating a first-person account, Fox relates how a natural gas company presented a lease offer for $100K from a natural gas company to explore on his land, which includes the house his parents built in Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Basin connecting with upstate New York.Fox begins to do his own research on drilling, and leaves countless unreturned messages with natural gas drillers like Halliburton. Congress’ 2005 Energy Policy Act, crafted by former vice president (and ex-Halliburton exec) Richard – NO! [Dick] Cheney, exempts the hydraulic fracturing drilling process used by natural gas companies (known as “fracking”) from long-held environmental regulations such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Immune to laws, natural gas companies have drilled relentlessly in 34 states where huge fields contain gas deposits. Once Fox learns that his beloved Delaware River watershed is being targeted by drillers as part of the massive Marcellus Shale field, he goes on the road to track down residents living near drilling sites. This investigation displays astonishing and disturbing findings, not least of which is how the residents can customarily light a flame near their tap water outlet and set the polluted water on fire. As Fox ventures west, to Colorado, Wyoming and Texas, states riddled with natural gas drill sites, he documents horror story after horror story. Lots of which pertain to hazardous health conditions.

The primary cause is toxic chemicals, blended with water, which must be used in fracking. Camera footage records venting of polluting gases coming off drill rigs, crushing the myth that natural gas is “clean” and a greenhouse solution. In vivid animation and graphics, Fox illustrates how the continent-wide explosion of fracking projects threatens watersheds and river basins, the source of drinking water. For all of its engaging information, the film itself is a piece of beautiful cinema, rough and poetic, often musical in its rhythms and about as far from the “professional” doc. The unity of sound and image blends between nightmarish moods and vocals of dispare, even while the camera peers into the faces of government and corporate officials. A combo of fest and grassroots exhibition, with viral networking, is part of the pic’s goal to push for new federal controls on fracking (now being considered in Congress). But if a film can ever enact social change, which is rare, the potency of “GasLand” suggests that this may be that film.

GENRE: Documentary
ROARS: 5 out of 5

Rated NR / Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min.

Now playing on HBO On-Demand (Documentaries)