Tuesday, January 12, 2010

THE COVE / ****

Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: July 31, 2009
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 96 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I love documentaries. By their very nature they show us things that ordinary fiction films simply can’t. In many cases the stories presented in documentaries are even more compelling than anything writers could dream up. “The Cove” is one such story.

The title refers to a remote location in Taiji, Japan, where fishermen use brutal methods to trap dolphins and mercilessly slaughter them for food. After my initial reaction of shock and horror, I realized that I’ve never heard of anyone eating dolphin. As it turns out, this dolphin meat is mislabeled as whale meat, since whale hunting has become incredibly restricted by the International Whaling Commission. But are countries involved in the IWC up for sale? They might be.

Throughout the movie we follow a group of activists led by Richard O’Barry, who some might recognize as the dolphin trainer from the classic television program “Flipper.” The time he spent working on that show convinced him what amazing creatures dolphins are, and he has devoted his life now to saving them.

O’Barry pieces together a team comprised of various skills, with the ultimate goal of exposing the atrocities going on in Taiji. The film plays out like a sort of “Ocean’s 11” heist, as the group goes to great lengths and encounters great resistance in their quest. The tension is absolutely palpable as they work together to place hidden cameras in the Cove to gather footage of the grisly dolphin massacres taking place.

Director Louis Psihoyos (his debut film) scored a nomination from the Director’s Guild of America for his outstanding work here, and he is sure to be rewarded with an Oscar nomination as well. The film is shot and paced as a thriller, but the stakes are so much higher than the average Friday night at the movies. “The Cove” is a heartbreaking film, and definitely one of the year’s best.

Theater: Ruth Sokolof Theater, Omaha, NE
Time: 700 pm
Date: December 2, 2009

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