is a bit contrary by nature. So when we heard that critics from Rolling
Stone and New York Magazine were raving over The Cove -- an environmental
exposé-meets-heist documentary starring South Miami guy Ric O'Barry
-- we secretly wanted to hate it. But when filmmakers showed the first public
screening of the movie to a standing-room-only crowd last night at Miami
City Hall , we just couldn't dislike it. We're no film critic, but this
is one smart, exciting, and sometimes hilarious movie.
The documentary follows Flipper's former dolphin trainer, Ric O'Barry, as
he tries to stop a heartbreaking dolphin slaughter at a hidden sea cove
in a small Japanese fishing town. (O'Barry calls it "the little town
with a big secret.") The film becomes more like Ocean's Eleven when
the ballsy film crew decides to sneak cameras in fake rocks, despite strict
police regulation. They plant microphones at the ocean's floor and use military-grade
thermal cameras to pull off the operation.
Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos -- once a National Geographic photographer -- did
a great job building tension and keeping a narrative thread, which seems
like a lot of so-called important documentaries fail to do. As the packed
city hall audience munched free pop corn, nobody whispered, left mid-movie,
or fidgeted. During the slaughter scene, the woman next to Riptide put a
coat over her face as the sound of screaming dolphins echoed through the
theater. An older balding fellow in one row over had
tears welling in his big brown eyes.
The movie also touches on other issues: mercury poisoning, the ethics of
hunting, and censorship. Best of all: The movie promises to make
ordinary people -- not only animal rights fanatics -- pay attention. (Afterward,
a gentleman in the audience asked, "What can we do?")
The Cove is scheduled to come out in theaters this July, though an official
date hasn't been set.
O'Neill in News