Tag Archives: media

Oscar Prediction for “Chasing Coral”

Now that we know this year’s winner of the best documentary film, O.J.: Made in America, here’s a prediction about next year’s winner. It will be Chasing Coral.

The new film follows scientists and photographers who are attempting to show the world what’s happening underwater. It’s exceptionally timely and provocative, because coral reefs are experiencing the worst bleaching and death-spiral ever witnessed.

Already a crowd pleaser at its premiere at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, this film follows in the footstep’s of the Oscar-nominated film, Chasing Ice, about climate change’s stunning visuals in frigid Greenland. The director Jeff Orlowski has now turned his attention to the biggest tropical, biological victim of a warming planet: shallow reefs built by coral animals.

The film has been purchased by Netflix, and I can’t wait to see it. It features a special camera, used by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey, to show reefs in 360 degree technicolor. These images allow us to see reefs across the planet like never before.

Critic site RogerEbert.com calls it a “landmark film,” and I’m betting that it’s pure Oscar gold.

 

 

Vision of Fish (karaoke lyrics)

Paracheilinus carpenteri

(sing to the tune of “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey)

(hmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . [crashing waves and seagulls cawing] . . .)

First vertebrate
So slippery
Underwater respiration
In the rivers and lakes and the sea

Body so long
Streamlined and free
Somehow you just keep on swimming
Suspension without gravity

I had a vision of fish
And it was all that ichthyology

Prayed for a bite
Felt a few tugs
Casting my line in the water
Hoping for something I love
There was no bait
There was no hook
And then I dove in the ocean
I’m looking for snapper and schnook

I had a vision of fish
And it was all that ichthyology
I had a vision of fish
And it was all ichthyology

I’ve realized I’m blue, (so blue)
We are one and the same
The water is our food
You’ve got your fins,
I’m dependent on my limbs too
The distance between us is just ballyhoo

You’re vertebrate kind, (yeah)
Deep destiny, (and the water you breathe)
And though separated by fathoms
We are together and free, (swam through the night)
Swam through the night, (so slippery)
So slippery, (slippery)
Knowing the world is my oyster
And all fish are my family (need my family)

I had a vision of fish, [whale & dolphin chirps]
And it was all that ichthyology
I had a vision of fish
And it was all … that ich-thyology

 

How to interpret The Red Turtle

What does The Red Turtle mean? How are we supposed to interpret a movie with no dialogue and no explanations? Not easily.

The Oscar-nominated animation has not yet prompted an onslaught of online opinion. It offers a green and blue canvas for people to paint their own portraits and impose their own perceptions onto this rectangular dream. Meditative and mysterious, the film also feels allegorical. It’s an extended bedtime story for adults.

Others articles discuss the director (Michaël Dudok de Wit of the Netherlands) and the art of the animation (Studio Ghibli of Japan), but I want to explore the symbolism of the film. Let’s start with the title, which is what drew me to see it.

Why Red?

A sea turtle with a red shell is exceptional, improbable, and startling. The color red could be interpreted to indicate danger, blood, passion, and other strong emotions. But turtles are toothless. Sea turtles do not threaten humans, although this red turtle does disrupt the protagonist’s plans to escape the deserted island. A silent siren, she controls his destiny. She is a stop sign.

The Turtle of the Red Shell

Sea turtles are exceptionally ancient, amphibious survivors in the tree of life, yet they are highly threatened by human activity. They represent our connection to the past and our alienation in the present. They know things that we can’t, and they are pacific. In contrast, humans are young and violent. We’re jealous and discontent.

The nameless main character is a non-turtle, an every-man, representing a lost soul and a frustrated loner. His conscious desire is to escape, like the delicate, hatchling sea turtles that scatter into the sea, but he is a failure. He has no home, no shell. The turtle, in its shell, is always home.

Conception and Rebirth

The film’s narrative unfolds as a creation myth, with Eve eventually arising from the red turtle’s shell and giving birth to a son, creating a trinity. This expansion represents the man’s unconscious desire to create. He believed that his true life existed outside of the island, in another place and time, but his spirit conjured up new life from within. The red turtle is his tormentor, and his deliverer.

The son is a hybrid who is free to join the turtles. He achieves what the father could not, and he chooses the feminine path of his mother. Both father and son experience the same rebirthing process after falling into the cave, yet the son struggles much less. He is becoming more harmonious, more integrated with nature than the father. He is returning to the amphibious womb of the ocean.

But a Dream

The Red Turtle could be enjoyed as an extended dream sequence, like the Technicolor portion of the Wizard of Oz. There are dreams within the dream, as when the man flies over a pier or when he hears a string quartet. But he awakens to the confines of his tropical island.

turtle FKNMS

The island nurtures him with food, water, and eventually a mate. At times it turns violent and dangerous, and eventually he falls asleep on the sand, forever. He achieves peace and belonging. Just as the turtle will return to the sea, he will return to the sand.

Feeling Unsettled

This interpretation is one of many possibilities, such a this one from Paste, calling it “more impressionistic than thematic.” You could look at the silence as ambivalence; the island could be the protagonist; the turtle could be a hallucination.

My mother is a turtle.

I may find another meaning in the future, but today I see it this way: the turtle is a higher being, a more advanced consciousness, and we are struggling to connect with it, just as many people are struggling in today’s world to reconnect with Nature. We are lost. Despite our wired world, we are disconnected.

So many people today envision the world in screens. They fear peering away from their phones and their computers, lest they miss something important. They need a reminder that stories have magic and power to heal, whereas a screen is only a tool. Screens can convey stories, but only the interpreter can infuse them with meaning.

The Red Turtle, while only a film, is also a chance to meditate on a moving yet perplexing story. It’s an invitation to dream of something beyond the rectangle.

Review of Dave Barry’s new book “Best.State.Ever.”

29093310The best thing about humorist Dave Barry’s new book is the title. With a mocking and adolescent tone, the title has literal and interpretive meanings that allow us to giggle about Florida truly as the best of states, the worst of states, and a quixotic state of mind. The book neither proves nor disproves a literal achievement of “best state” (a game showing waiting to happen) but it does entertain in typical, good-natured Dave Barry fashion.

As a fellow Floridian, I enjoyed following Dave’s drives around the state to storied tourist attractions and aging oddities, but much of it was old news. The most revealing chapter covered a retirement community in central Florida (shocking, I know) where people dance until they die (Best.Twist.Ever.). Although sarcastic and knowingly hyperbolic, Dave laughs while still managing to empathize with his subject of old people in a fish bowl. They are too easy to catch and throw back, yet there’s some charm and whimsy to this fish tank, where Dave would never want to live—but now he understands why so many do.

img_2954Other chapters have him driving to Key West to get drunk (shocking) and to Weeki Wachee Springs to see real mermaids (bucket list material). These chapters are like shooting fish in a barrel—they’re just too easy, and they’ve become clichés. Old-school, unfiltered Florida is obviously “the best.” Where’s today’s Florida of competitive commercialization? He visits the trendiest of night clubs in South Beach and gives it too much credit. Boring. I wanted him to rip it like he did in his Miami Herald column on Santa’s Enchanted Forest, a pathetic Miami attraction and multi-layered oxymoron, which deserves an annual reading.

The book “Best.State.Ever.” is fun and fluffy. I certainly agree that Florida deserves the crown for info-tainment, and I challenge any other state to even try to snatch the title. Such mind games are a breezy, harmless distraction from the actual state of our states.

It’s also refreshing to have PG-rated humor in an X-rated world. Our states hold great potential for humor, but our nation is really pushing the boundaries. Considering the state of U.S. politics, the book Dave should be writing right now is “Best.Nation.Ever.” We are killing it.  quote-a-printer-consists-of-three-main-parts-the-case-the-jammed-paper-tray-and-the-blinking-dave-barry-121-5-0562

 

Hurricane Sandy wins presidential debates

It has been 24 years since the topic of Climate Change did not surface during presidential debates. So Mr. and Mrs. Climate sent their child Sandy to make a statement: you can avoid the topic all you want, but I’m not going away. Denial can be deadly.

Santiago, Cuba

Hurricane Sandy caused devastation in Santiago, Cuba before moving north.

This pre-Halloween trick inspired NYC Mayor Bloomberg to give the treat of endorsement to President Obama, because, as he writes in his news service, “our climate is changing.” So now we have to ask: why did you need to be hit over the head to admit it?

Climate change is a fact that we will be dealing with our entire lives. Like learning you or a loved one has cancer, you may want to pretend that the doctor is lying, but that will only hurt you in the long run. Same thing here. We need to get past this denial stage before climate change metastasizes.

If you think the media is to blame, check out this presentation by FIU professor Juliet Pinto. While a shift occured in 2006 towards greater acceptance of scientific consensus, the story that got the most traction in the past decade was a scam in 2009 that involved the hacking of emails of climate scientists in the UK’s East Anglia. The media loved the possible scandal, but when it was debunked, very little coverage ensued. Right-wing nuts hold onto the “scandal” episode as it were real, while denying the evidence of climate change hitting them in the face.

In time, most people will come around to reality, but that approach didn’t work too well for the Holocaust.

Individuals need to raise their voices, take to the streets, vote, and get informed from reliable, verifiable sources. We need our politicians to lead the way, but right now they need us to point them in the right direction. Look into the sky, into your heart, and into the eyes of a child. Listen to what they are trying to tell you. The debate is over. Hurricane Sandy won.