2012, Movies

Last Call at the Oasis (2012, Jessica Yu)

This is not a happy film. I guess that’s what accounts for its low rating on Imdb. [At the time this post was published the rating was at least 2 lower than it is in 2019.] That or certain companies are rating it 1/10. (C’mon Riley, nobody does that! That’s crazy!)

Though some of the evidence in this film is anecdotal, much of it isn’t. And much of the anecdotal evidence is of the type which we often later discover we should have accepted, or at least heeded. (See for instance: cigarettes, concussions, excessive sugar and chemicals in pop / candy / gum, etc). But the important arguments – the arguments about scarcity, the arguments about the fraud of bottled water – are not anecdotal but are actually backed up by reliable science or public records.

The film is alarming and is somewhat depressing (with the exception of one all too brief section) but I do not believe it suffers from an excess of information. What is a documentary if not an informative film? Critiquing a documentary for giving you too much information – as some critics of this film have done – is like criticizing a tragedy for being tragic. It is depressing and informative. The quibble should be that not enough of this information is wholly proven. Or the quibble should be that the film doesn’t focus on the bright side enough (and I would agree with that).

But personally I don’t think there’s a lot to criticize in the style, just the tone and, in a few select cases, the content.

The scientists are involved in something that is always fraught with controversy and confusion: prediction. Unfortunately, we cannot predict the future. But we can exercise prudence. And certainly the views put forward in this film should tell us to err on the side of caution if not to completely rethink the way us in North America use water. I think you should watch it.

And for fuck’s sake stop buying bottled water already.


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