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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

300: Just Do It

    So here it is, movie number 300.
    I'm not sure why it feels more important than 100 or 200 but it sort of does. A landmark in the whirlygig which has been everyfilmin2011.
    No film out at the moment adequatley reflects the moment of glory or holds anything personal for me so I thought I'd just get on with the job and take the next screener to hand - Just Do It: A Tale Of Modern-Day Outlaws, kindly provided by the folk at Organic Marketing.
    This is a documentary put together by Emily James who immersed herself for a year amid the world of the UK's environmental direct action groups.
    It offers unprecedented access and particularly follows the stories of several individuals who were involved in various protests in London, Isle of Wight, Nottingham and even at the G20 in Denmark.
    It is a documentary which left me torn.
    Firstly, as a journalist, I admired James for her dedication and the exclusive footage she recorded.
    The tactics of a protest were particularly fascinating, although I found it impossible to believe that neither Climate Camp or Plane Stupid, who are both highlighted, had no leadership.
    The suggestion is that they are community ventures.
    Yet it was obvious that some shouted louder than others. If they hadn't the protests, which are highly organised would surely dissolve into farce.
    It was very interesting to see how important the group considers elements like media coverage and training of protesters. At one point we see how they create a human blockade.
    The people involved in direct action are very articulate and intelligent. One young woman had given up being a medicine student to join the protest movement. Her words are persuasive.
    But James makes a crucial mistake in the making of Just Do It. She moves from jounalism into producing a film which becomes almost propagandist.
    The key error was to make one of the protestors (James) the narrator. Not only does his voice not have the gravitas for the job, but his commentary is completely one-eyed.
    Also, at no point are the economics of protest assessed. We never discover where people who are ostensibly without jobs receive their funding.
    The film could have also done with occasional moments of humour (even the most intense people must surely laugh). This could have been provided by operations which go wrong.
    There was a small sense of that in one London protest when information about the rallying point kept getting confused.
    I just couldn't believe there weren't more moments like that over 12 months if there really was no leadership.
    Perahps I'm being too cynical and I don't want to decry the movie because it did teach me much I did not know and, therefore, comfortably deserves a rating of 6/10.

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300: Just Do It

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