Dave's Rating:

4.5

… some people might think it's too quiet …

Who's in It: Edward Burtynsky

The Basics: Canadian art photographer Burtynsky is the Ansel Adams of toxic waste. He takes really beautiful long-view shots of industrial scenes: factories; dumps; pollution; huge groups of anonymous, uniformed workers toiling on assembly lines. But it's the kind of thing that makes you think of murdered child-beauty-pageant contestants. You're like, "Wow, that's a beautiful glow-in-the-dark river. Oh, wait, it's got nuclear sludge in it."

What's the Deal? Burtynski goes to China to take photographs of that country's booming economy and the environmental consequences. And it's mostly quiet. In fact, some people might think it's too quiet, because you're watching all of these dutiful, beaten-down Chinese workers trudge in and out of mines and ship-breaking sites, and the photographs of them are all elegant and stuff, but the movie doesn't explain to you that thousands of people die doing that kind of work. You'd have to Google that kind of information.

What It's Like: One of my other favorite movies of the year so far, a documentary about modern food production called Our Daily Bread. It's almost completely silent and focused on showing you the hows of weird food processing. It tells you almost nothing explicitly, just like this film. But somehow that one, with its wild imagery, seems to be communicating its dark message a little more effectively.

Don't Be Late: Or you'll miss the most mind-blowing shot. It's a very, very, very, very, very long tracking shot of the interior of a factory where it appears that half the population of China are all working at the same time putting together little gadgets on countless assembly lines. I honestly didn't think they made buildings this big.

Double-Feature It With: An Inconvenient Truth.

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