Last Call at the Oasis (2012)
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Critic Reviews for Last Call at the Oasis
It's one of the best in a recent array of cinematic docs looking at such hot topics as oil, water, food production, climate change, the economy and telling us, as scientist Jay Famiglietti so succinctly puts it in Yu's film, "We're screwed."
Be assured, this thorough doc with its gorgeous opening sequence will sear a central message into your brain: think before you drink.
"Last Call at the Oasis" represents nonfiction filmmaking at its most urgent, timely and stylistically smooth.
One can argue the movie's finer points, but in the end, there's no escaping its creeping pile-up of evidence that Mother Earth is critically dehydrated - and we need to do something, fast.
Yu ends on a mildly optimistic note, but it's hard not to walk away convinced we're all in for a rather severe dry spell.
Audience Reviews for Last Call at the Oasis
It cannot be stated enough that the water struggles of the world are not talked about as often as they should by the media. This documentary covers the water shortages that permeate Third World Countries, as well as pollutant leaks from medical companies in commercial waterways, the issue of recycled water, and the benefits of conservatism in places that see water as a right rather than a luxury. The film covers every extensive issue of water shortage in the world, including right here in the United States, where conservation, and a heeding for regulation of water in dry and agrarian communities, has come under fire by many groups in the country. Even Erin Brockovich gives some face time for the cameras, going back to the town she initially helped twenty years ago, where pollution is still high. The call to arms is very strong in this film and it's as informative as it is shocking.
This underwhelming documentary does not live up to its title or marketing. Visually, Jessica Yu did a great job keeping us engaged, but the film lacks coherent focus, substance beyond conjecture, and dare I say honesty in it's coverage.
The first 20 minutes creates an adequate, cohesive thread introducing two water depletion issues affecting the western United States (the desert city Las Vegas, and the Central Valley), but we don't get any data or evidence to be convinced these represent a sweeping issue around the globe. Rather than explain some infrared imagery of the earth like any 10 minute TEDTalk presentation would do, the professor behind the images is simply reduced to vacuous dramatic tension by saying some form of "we're screwed" every time he's cut into the narrative. It reminds me of when I would come home from school ten years ago; a local christian station had a daily program on that spent an hour connecting the current international news events to the book of Revelations with their point being that the rapture was coming soon and that President Bill Clinton was most likely the Anti-Christ who would unite the world as the leader of he U.N. Any fool can make an argument; I need compelling evidence to show me it's worth my time to consider.
From here, the film then abruptly shrinks itself down to a handful of 15 minute anecdotal vignettes, mostly on a few individuals in small American towns. These feel like desperate time fillers, superficial in their coverage (again, lacking data to either show us a problem or the cause) and too niche to be relevant to most Americans let alone the global community. Instead of water shortages, these mostly had to do with random accounts of pollution in small community water supplies, usually involving agriculture. I had to laugh at one point when it tried to make an algae bloom in lake Michigan sound like an unsafe toxin. Algae is just a benign, natural, single-celled aquatic vegetation that grows rapidly in warm and sunny water, as all photosynthetic organisms are prone to do.
In the last 20 minutes, the film picks back up where the first 20 minutes left off, a quick look at a couple of government water projects outside the US that affect the supply of others. Its message about the social effect was that when neighboring countries have water disputes, it actually ends up being the topic that brings them together amicably with a shared future vision.
Presents the issue of water from a good number of angles to expose a crisis with many different fronts to fight on. Although the attempt at hope at the end of the film is intended to motivate, it represents what is likely too little, too late.
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