I'm sure many of you have had your fill of environmental disasters caused by oil/gas companies, but I implore you to watch or DVR the Sundance-winning documentary GasLand tonight (June 21, 2010) if you have HBO. And not just because it's about an important cause -- the ecological and public safety concerns regarding natural gas drilling -- but also because it's one of the best investigative films to come along in a while.

One of the reasons I loved it from the start is that its director, Josh Fox, was not a journalist or even a documentarian when he began the project, and at first the film plays out like much of All the President's Men (and to some degree Erin Brockovich) due to the curious and spontaneous nature of his pursuit for both questions and answers. You'll never feel the film goes over your head with knowledge about chemicals and politics, as you get to learn and find out about most of this stuff at the same time the filmmaker does.
Fox, who quickly starts referring to himself as a detective, reminds me of a banjo-playing Michael Moore, only much thinner, much more serious and with a voice that could be easily mistaken for Johnny Depp's (listen to the voice-over with your eyes shut at times and you'll think you're listening to part of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson). This is more like Roger & Me Moore, though, especially given that its inception is with a personal inquiry into an issue that effect's the filmmaker's home state.

then takes you on a cross-country journey to nightmare situations involving exploding wells, flammable drinking water and human and animal casualties. It's frightening and angering yet also a bit surreal and playful -- in the way we laugh at something that scares the sh*t out of us. Be prepared to hate Dick Cheney all over again as you realize how his amending of the Safe Drinking Water Act, among other environmental protection laws, will make your tap unsafe for washing let alone consuming.

I don't typically recommend a documentary for how it advertises a cause, but it's been a long time since a film actually made me want to write a letter to congress. I must admit I'm thinking about doing that after seeing GasLand. Find out why by watching this exceptional film.
categories Features, Cinematical