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With Intelligent Life, a new documentary screening tomorrow afternoon, Castle Rock filmmaker Brian Malone (the man behind the 2006 media critique Breaking News) sets out to save the world -- or at least help slow its de-evolution into a sun-orbiting scrap heap. Malone juxtaposes sequences of nature at its most gorgeous with images of man stripmining cliffsides, binging on overconsumption, inhumanely slaughtering cows because we love hamburgers so damn much, etc. And then, just when you're ready to condemn the entire human race, he offers beatific footage of people demonstrating environmental consciousness by recycling, driving electric cars and otherwise reducing their carbon footprint to a smaller smudge.
The visuals suggest a less stylized variation on 1982's Koyaanisqatsi, while the messages, conveyed by voiceover quotes from the likes of Albert Einstein and a closing list of "intelligent solutions," recall Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. It's all very sincere and well-intentioned in a preaching-to-the-choir manner. But at least said choir's members will leave the theater with memories of some pretty (and pretty ugly) pictures, as well as a good feeling about that vegetable garden they planted in the front yard.