Starring Joshua Tickell, Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow
Directed by Joshua Tickell
Like fellow documentarian Morgan Spurlock, Josh Tickell holds a public grudge against McDonald’s. The only difference: In “Fuel,” grease is good. Deep within oil-soaked fries, Tickell claims to have found the untapped secret to greener fuel: biodiesel. But in a 112-minute time slot that feels as tedious as the 11 years it took to make, Tickell painstakingly dissects the history of America’s addiction to foreign oil, relying on little more than celebrity name-drops and one-sided arguments as evidence.
The 2008 Sundance Audience Award for Best Documentary provides a realistic solution to severing dependence on foreign oil: the introduction of alternative fuel sources such as sustainable biofuels, biomass and plug-in hybrids. Sprinkled with interviews with Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow and Julia Roberts, the film appeals to the unconverted, stick-shifting masses. But — trailing closely behind grassroots-advocating documentaries like “The 11th Hour” — “Fuel” is nothing new.
From the pulpit of his sunflower-painted Winnebago, Tickell condemns the sinfulness of America’s oil industry, detailing the ways in which it has poisoned the environment and corrupted the government since Rockefeller first subverted the ethanol-fueled automobiles of Henry Ford by advancing prohibition.
That dubiousness, Tickell argues, persisted in the hush-hush machinations of the Bush and Reagan administrations, renders “Fuel” as politically charged as a Michael Moore expose. Pointing the finger at Bush for using 9/11 as impetus for foreign oil expenditures — and later exploiting the same imagery to tug at the audience’s heartstrings — Tickwell encourages viewers to embrace Flower Power at the expense of remaining unbiased.
Although his arguments are well-grounded, mandated pity eclipses the resentment that “Fuel” otherwise foments toward Uncle Sam. Rather than scold Bush and Cheney for their oil-rigging exploits, Tickell focuses on painting Presidents Kennedy and Carter as saints for their fuel policies.
Despite the documentary’s histrionic moral, Tickell’s passion seems genuine, drawing on the pathos of his childhood in Louisiana — a “Jurassic Park of oil and gas — to illustrate his point. As a young boy, he resented the state’s oil refineries for thwarting his ability to river raft through the blue bayous like Huck Finn.
While his vision for biodiesel and his filming techniques are equally savvy — he uses animated modules to break down the oil-refining process for us visual learners — periodic lecture-style narration dashes any chance for “Fuel” to surpass cynical expectations of being just another didactic documentary.
The most notable proposal is algae biodiesel, which — in addition to providing net increase in renewable energy — also metabolizes carbon dioxide. But regardless of the solutions “Fuel” presents, its lack of timeliness due to a delayed theatrical release in 2008 is difficult to ignore. Come on, the Obama campaign was last year’s news. Now what?
“Fuel” may inspire you to use the compost bins at OVT, but its earnest efforts to be the little movie that could makes it unworthy of a trip to the theaters — just think of all the fuel you’d be wasting.
With Blow Your Head Vol.1: Diplo Presents Dubstep, DJ Diplo is caught red-handed trying to make a quick buck off the growing popularity of the electronic dance music phenomenon.
Aside from attempting to promote his brand, Diplo’s goal here was to introduce his dubstep-illiterate fans to a new style while taking an abbreviated crack at it himself. With the exception of a couple new Diplo collaborations, most notably with an equally guilty Lil Jon, the album is nothing more than a collection of some of the more mainstream-friendly classics from the genre.
Diplo somewhat redeems himself with the Lil Jon collaboration “U Don’t Like Me.” The track pours on enough earthshaking bass lines to get your whole body vibrating, while Lil Jon’s patented ravings make it seem like you’ve never left the Top 40 for the underground.
The second collaboration, titled “Sunset” and put together with dubstep producer Borgore, starts off serenely before exploding into a filthy orgy of searing bass-lines that veers dangerously close to random noise.
After the two collaborations, the album merely compiles an assortment of older dubstep tracks and does some halfhearted remixes. The deejay focuses on the less grimy aspects of the genre; the tracks generally feature more vocals than might be found on a typical dubstep album. The songs feel less like dubstep and more like your basic club anthems. DJ Diplo is clearly trying to water down the genre for the masses and promote his own brand with minimum effort, to the consternation of diehard aficionados everywhere already taking issue with the track listing. You’re better off exploring the genre for free on Pandora. (4/10)
The case on the DVD of the Ivan Reichman ( ""Ghostbusters,"" ""Animal House"") action/comedy flick ""Evolution"" boasts a quote by an adept New York Post critic calling the movie simply, ""Fun!""
Fun is the perfect word to describe ""Evolution."" What else could a movie featuring gross-out aliens, Agent Mulder, Oscar-wannabe Julianne Moore, the guy from the ""Make 7-UP Yours"" commercials and Stifler of ""American Pie"" fame hope to be?
Unfortunately, while the movie itself stays true to pure entertainment, some of the special features on the DVD generally attempt to push the movie beyond its openly imbecilic nature into the realm of artsy movie-making.
This half-hearted push, mainly evident in a mini ""making-of"" documentary and a visual effects featurette, turns what was pure comedy into comedy science, which works in some movies but not in one that features as much recto-humor and bodily excretions as this one does. On the positive side, the visual effects featurette is at least mildly interesting and gives the viewer an appreciation for the work behind the extraterrestrial grossness in the film.
A full-length audio commentary by Reichman and the lead actors (minus Moore) also drifts into over-analysis but is partially saved by the surprisingly wry humor of David ""Mulder"" Duchovny, slapstick of Orlando ""7-Up"" Jones and Seann William ""Stifler"" Scott.
Fortunately, the remaining special feature, the deleted scenes, somewhat makes up for the others by being almost more fun-oriented than the movie itself. Particularly entertaining is an alternate, deleted ending that cannot be described in words (at least not in a major campus newspaper).
Another plus for the DVD is its excellent color fidelity; all the disgusting aliens and their excretions and protrusions can be scene in luminescent detail.
Finally, to its credit, the DVD offers an ample variety of subtitles and dub-overs in English, French and Spanish.
11 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Pep Band
11:15 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Sigma Gamme Rho
11:45 a.m.-12 p.m. Triton Cheer Squad
12 p.m.-12:25 p.m. Capoiera
12:25 p.m.-12:35 p.m. Konfusion
12:30 p.m.-12:50 p.m. Hawai'i Club
12:50 p.m.-1 p.m. Alpha Phi Alpha
1 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Ascension
1:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Triton Twirl Flags
1:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m. UCSD DOT Womens Choir
1:45 p.m.-2 p.m. Tritones
2 p.m.-2:15 p.m. UCSD Ballroom Dance Team
2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Triton Co-ed Spirit Squad
2:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m. 220
2:45 p.m.-3 p.m. Dance Team
3 p.m.-4 p.m. Voice of Reason
7 p.m. Ping Pong Mafia
7:50 p.m. Naughty by Nature
9:10 p.m. Face to Face
10:30 p.m. Xzibit
Plus: A new area has been added to this year's Sun God with DVC DJ's spinning throughout the night.
6:30 p.m. Sauron
7:15 p.m. DJ XL
8 p.m. Degenerate
8:45 p.m. Tommyboy
9:30 p.m. Ladykilla
10:15 p.m. Crime Lab
11:30 p.m. Devastator