Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Cove

"The Cove" isn't the best made documentary, but it definitely has its purpose. People for years have tried to get behind the cliffside at Taiji's notorious cove to document to the world the assassinations of dolphins. The techniques are cruel, the set-up is well planned (a with high security), and the butchery is unheard of in Japan and in many other places. Japan is shown here as tricky, trying to bribe third-world countries into helping them legalize the practice of whaling again, and what could they do? But the message here is made clear: we can do something about all this mess.

The leader of this insurgence is Richard O'Barry, former Flipper trainer who grew to love the dolphins and eventually was getting routinely caught trying to let them go. Also is the film's director Louie Psihoyos, who I believe started an organization called OPS or the Oceanic Preservation Society. His inexperience directing is shown here, since the film technically fails to be very stimulating, often sticking to the same techniques again and again and again to convey the story and resorting to the same shots of the same interview subjects. But the subject is enough to propel the film through whatever stretches Psihoyos couldn't, and thus we have an effective film that gets its message across, while conventionally, in a way that would inspire you to help. This is a case like "Food, Inc." where the sheer force of the facts offered bring the film to well-being. Even without the same threats posed as the former film, "The Cove" still manages to paint an frustrating picture of a corrupt Japan that will not stop unless the public makes it. That's exactly what the people behind this film are trying to provoke, and the only way of truly doing this is getting into the cove and showing what goes on there. No one will like what they see.

The fact of this footage (although we know what is coming thus making it slightly underwhelming if you could call it that, I guess due to the build-up to it) makes this film worth seeing. There will be converts from "inactivism" to "activism," to use the words of one of interviewees (perhaps it was O'Barry, but maybe Psihoyos?). Perhaps it's good that the film is being considered for Best Documentary (only since it should be seen, not because I think that it necessarily is a great film or even a great documentary, and this is one of the places to provoke audience viewing); thank God for every opportunity for this information to be passed onwards. It's because a cause needs to be seen not heard of, which is exactly the same reason "Food, Inc." ended up being decent. "The Cove" is good for its content, not for its style (except in a couple of instances), but I guess that's made clear. B

No comments: