I mostly know Fessenden from his roles in Kelly Reichardt movies… only previously seen his Habit, the other mid-90’s heroin/vampire movie – know I didn’t like it much but I don’t recall anything about it and don’t trust my 1996 self’s opinions, since 1996 Self loved From Dusk Till Dawn and Happy Gilmore.

I guess this is The Thing meets The Happening meets The Screwfly Solution, an “eco-thriller” in which the environment fights back against an arctic oil team who already had their own inter-personal drama and now have to contend with people turning suicidal/homicical after seeing snowy ghosts. Throw in an evil corporation covering up climate-change evidence, Ron Perlman and Connie Britton, and remarkably good plane-crash effects, and it’s a solid little apocalyptic movie.

Connie and Ronnie:

Maxwell (Connie’s Friday Night Lights costar) is first to die naked in the snow, Jamie Harrold (Kingdom Hospital) just nosebleeds to death in his sleep, and a couple people get taken out when the “rescue” plane crashes into their base. Perlman and his rival, Phantasm II star James Le Gros, end up stranded in the snow with approaching ghost-deers, while back home, Connie kills Joanne Shenandoah for smothering Kevin Corrigan (the not-bright, cleaner-spraying guy in Infinity Baby).

A Tribeca doc we found on netflix. Activists to various degrees – a marine biologist, an environmentalist TV host, and the filmmaker himself – get involved in ethical quandaries while trying to protect the Amazon pink dolphin by bringing media attention to its plight. On-camera confessions and the build-ups to “shocking” revelations feel somewhat like reality TV, and I’m more interested in the larger-scale societal problems barely addressed here (overfishing due to overpopulation, uncontrollable river pollution, government policies destroying livelihoods of entire villages). But it’s an undeniably interesting, twisty story that I’ve been pondering for weeks since watching.

The marine biologist enlists superstar TV host Richard Rasmussen to let the people know that this precious, docile dolphin is being trapped and killed, cut into parts, and used as bait to catch a local catfish that gets exported because it isn’t even healthy enough to be sold within the country. Richard is a fascinating character, honestly passionate about environmental concerns but also a born showman, and sometimes two-faced and underhanded in his methods. He personally enlists a river family to butcher a dolphin so he can get it on camera, then sells them out to publicize the footage, which catches fire in the media and leads to policy changes in the country. It’s easy to pick on Richard’s personality, his potentially illegal/immoral actions, but it’s also guerrilla activism for a purportedly noble cause. “As murky as the waters of the Amazon River itself,” says the official description, ay.

Stupid Matt Damon has money problems (you can tell because he stays up late at a cluttered desk frowning at an adding machine) so he decides to get small. His wife Kristen Wiig decides against the idea at the last minute, then he loses his palacial house in the divorce, moves into an apartment below hard-partying Christoph Waltz whose housecleaner is Vietnamese dissident Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau of Treme, Inherent Vice). These three hitch a ride with Udo Kier to the original small colony led by Dr. Rolf LassgÃ¥rd (A Man Called Ove), which is retreating into a mountain to wait out the impending human-caused global catastrophes. Stupid Matt Damon decides to go with them, then decides not to, then convinces Ngoc Lan he’s in love with her.

Katy says it’s like they asked each actor what they’d like to play (“a sea captain!” “a hard-partying smuggler” “a one-legged humanitarian”) then wrote a script around it. It tries to be a bunch of things at once, not so successfully, and there are awkward and obvious bits, but I appreciate the ambition, and Christoph Waltz looks like he’s having the best time. Second movie we watched theatrically in a row to feature Laura Dern.

Reichardt’s darkest movie, thematically and visually. Extremist environmentalist Jesse Eisenberg blows up a dam along with Dakota Fanning (providing the funds) and Peter Sarsgaard (handy with explosives), killing a camper with the ensuing flood. Days later, Dakota is freaking out from guilt, so Jesse murders her, then flees into the anonymous suburbs.

A. Stoehr:

They’re young, sensitive, brooding, idealistic — not tortured, exactly, but stung by the feeling that they have to do something and totally destroyed by the something they end up doing.

V. Rizov:

The middle-aged suburban guy selling his fishing vessel couldn’t be more innocuous in his personal manner, but we see his neighborhood through Josh’s angry eyes: the backyard waterfall is a clear misallocation of resources, the golf on TV the final insult … The way Contagion forced viewers to see every surface as a potential viral breeding ground rather than an neutral object, Night Moves makes it easier to view the everyday world’s physical components through perpetually, justifiably aggrieved environmentalist eyes.

Night Moves has a hint of a repeatedly disenchanted activist’s understandable bubbling-under stridency while adding to Reichardt’s gallery of would-be liberal American citizens navigating a hostile landscape already shaped and perhaps permanently ruined by those who came before.

Reichardt:

What should anybody be doing right now? No answer was discovered in the making of the film for that question.

Mesmerising footage using slow-motion and time-lapse to make ordinary things (clouds, a night drive, video games, stock exchange) look wonderous.

Glass:

Several generations have grown up looking at those images, but in ’78 they were extremely startling and it was like looking at the world for the first time.

Reggio: “It’s not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live.”

Rebaixes!

I knew what Reggio was going for with the images, but was pondering how, until the final title cards (defining the title as life in turmoil / disintegrating / out of balance), it’d be possible to see most of the movie as a positive celebration of technological progress. Reggio apparently meant it to be ambiguous in this way.

Set to a rightly celebrated Philip Glass score (reminded me at times of the latest Tortoise album), shot by Ron Fricke (Baraka, Chronos), played in competition in Berlin (with La Belle Captive and Pauline at the Beach). But most importantly, someone at IMDB has figured out how many frames of this film contain topless footage of Marilyn Chambers (four).

Pruitt-Igoe:

From the extras it looks like the movie could’ve become a hippie happening, with staged art events and an Allen Ginsberg spoken-word response soundtrack, before the concept was reworked. Reggio was inspired to filmmaking by Los Olvidados and there’s a good segment on his ACLU-sponsored anti-surveillance campaign.