no_impact_man_posterSTRIPPED TO ITS CORE, the quasi-eco-doc No Impact Man (now on DVD) can best be appraised by a simple question asked by the “man” himself, author Colin Beavan, about halfway through the film:

“Is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?”

Well, depending on your own nature (plus irritability factor), you may want to either scream “YES, YOU MORON, ARE YOU KIDDING?!” or more calmly intone, “Absolutely, Mr. Beavan, I already get it and am doing what I can, but how do we efficaciously spread the gospel far and wide?”

Well, with response two lies the big question, which No Impact Man, the blog, the book and the movie, grapples with to varying degrees of success. As we’re already deep in cliche-ville when it comes to constant reminders of “it’s not easy being green,” do we need another reminder of how our modern world of 24/7 conveniences and heedless mass consumption clash head-on with getting back to planet-preserving simplicity, if not to the non-subsidized, people-powerd farm, preferably off the grid, where the vast majority of GDP-boosting consumer practices are eschewed or pilloried?

I believe the answer’s yes, especially if it sparks dialogue and debate, and seeps, burbles or boils further into the mainstream.

In No Impact Man, the movie, wider viewership (now that it’s on DVD) can be stimulated by its simple “reality TV factor,” which draws the trendy gaze by its train-wreck premise—How is Beavan’s family going to actually do this for a whole year without going batty? Can they survive without—gasp!—toilet paper, disposable diapers for the baby, a fridge, packaged foods, etc.? It becomes as much an intimate character study (there’s a bit of cabin fever on display here, too) as stick-by-your-guns eco-pledge, and it works quite effectively well in this potentially wobbly and at-odds context. It certainly shows the everyday challenges of attempting to live a no/low-impact life (the ice-cooler “cheat,” when it occurs, is entirely understandable and easy to commiserate with).

So if you’re not entirely put off by the book and blog gimmick tie in (Julie and Julia, anybody?), take a gander at No Impact Man while sitting in the dark, and why not? spread the gospel of wasting little and living more.


last_winter_movie_posterHAPPY HALLOWEEN! Can the threat of cataclysmic climate change due to global warming serve as compelling enough plot line to drive an independent horror film? In the case of Larry Fessenden’s Last Winter, the answer is an unequivocal YIKES!—I mean, YES! The disturbing-yet-entertaining film (the cinema of terror’s ideal mix)—originally released in 2007 and available on video from IFC Films—unfolds not at a haunted house but at a big-oil company camp in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), there thanks to a “historic vote” by Congress that opens up drilling. It doesn’t take long before strange goings are observed around camp, the permafrost begins to melt (and the worry, Is deadly hydrogen sulfide gas being released?) and the two “greenies” hired by big-oil North Industries to do an impact study know they are fighting a losing battle. “People just don’t want to deal with it,” green-cause journalist/scientist James Hoffman says in the film. “It’s tiring.” Not much later: “Something is being unleashed from the softening permafrost”—”This is the last winter. Total collapse. Hope dies.”

Hit the lights, pop the corn and buckle up: it’s time for some first-rate eco-horror, indeed! Read More »