Sunday, September 29, 2013

Update on BP's gulf oil spill: Joshua & Rebecca Harrell Tickell's investigative doc, THE BIG FIX

A kind of companion piece to Dirty Energy (a little-seen documentary we covered earlier this year), THE BIG FIX indicts oil giant BP for not simply causing the accidental 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill inflicted on the Gulf of Mexico, but for its actions -- as well as those of our own governments, local and national -- ever since. The Big Fix is a worthwhile entry into this growing collection of investigation about BP, big oil and government collusion, though it is not nearly as well done, moving or important as Dirty Energy. See them both, because they complement each other, even to the point of using some of the same people to interview. But whatever you do, don't miss Dirty Energy.

Unfortunately The Big Fix, clearly for purposes of marketing (and perhaps for raising money to complete the movie), inflicts on us a couple "name" actors -- Peter Fonda (above) and Amy Smart -- who happen to care, genuinely I'm sure, about the environment. Fonda says a few words and appears in a couple of scenes and then has to go; Ms Smart does even less. Both are a waste of time here and any moviegoers they might bring in will only be disappointed in how little they see of the two.

The product of husband/wife team -- Joshua Tickell (shown at right) who a few years back gave us an interesting but flawed documentary called Fuel, and Rebecca Harrell Tickell (shown below), who, during the course of this film, seems to become a victim of the very thing to which the Tickells are calling our attention -- the movie starts a little shakily. But hang on. As it continues, the film expands (rather like that initial spill), allowing us to see that the problem here goes much deeper and wider than the spill itself, until it involves big oil, state government, and national government -- all exceedingly dirty. Mr. Tickell has dropped some of the cute and energetic cheerleader pose he used in Fuel. He's older now and has grown up some, it seems.

Together the pair explore a bit of Louisiana history (where Mr. Tickell was raised) and the state's connection to the oil industry; then we learn of BP and its own checkered (putting it mildly) history where safety and reliability are concerned.

We hear about the spill itself, the unhealthy dispersants used to break up that oil so that it will appear to have been cleaned up rather than accumulating beneath the water (as is apparently happening), the effect all this has on sea life and the people living on the shores of the gulf, not to mention the dying fishing industry that has been so devastated by the spill and its even-worse after-effects.

We hear again from marine biologist Riki Ott (above, right) and other scientists, along with fishing families like Kevin and Margaret Curole, though no one comes across as strongly here as he or she does in Dirty Energy -- which was anecdotal, it's true, but thoroughly engaged us both intellectually and emotionally, while presenting its information in a way that seemed genuine and truthful. We also see what the spill has done to sea life/seafood (below), how the FDA has fudged their inspections, and why it might be smart to either give up seafood entirely or make certain you know from where what you're eating originates.

What The Big Fix does have, however, is a wider net. In its second half, it connects the dots that have long seen the oil industry in bed with local and national politicians via campaign contributions, lobbying, and finally even lawmaking. Our current administration is every bit as guilty as have been those of the past. This all comes down once again to money in politics. Until we stop political "contributions" and the purchase of our politicians, we're simply stuck with the sleaze that this money continues to elect. And, yes, I mean you, President Obama.

But that's another day, and another movie -- or 20 of 'em. For now, you can stream The Big Fix via Netflix, but you can only save Dirty Energy to your queue. Let's hope that NF sees the light and either orders DVDs or purchases the streaming rights....

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