Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shell film: Eureka. Will corporate film get into the documentary festivals?


Today I found a “freebie for CM” (Chickenman, as I was called in the Army back in 1969), a DVD from Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company. I’m not sure if it was part of the National Geographic Magazine or was sent to me to review as a “film” because of my movie blogs. So here goes. The film is called “Eureka”, from Shell Films, in Dutch with English subtitles, 9 min long. (Dutch is close to English -- sounding like a mixture of English and German -- almost to the point that one can manage without the subtitles). It is accompanied by a 5 minute documentary about making the film, the documentary called “Making Oil.”

The idea was to make a real short, suitable for a documentary film festival (but it didn’t show up at the AFI festival as far as I know). It is the story of a Dutch oil engineer, Jaap (Marcel Faber), working in Southeast Asia (the country is unnamed, but there is one city scene that looks like Kuala Lumpur, so I assume the country is Malaysia). The countryside rather looks like that in Leonardo di Caprio’s 2000 “The Tempest” derived flick, The Beach. He is flying over the underwater oil field with a female Asian coworker, wondering how to drill enough wells without destroying the environment. The coworker suggests a timeout for him to think. The gets a cell phone call from his teenage son, Max.

Cut to Amsterdam, we he visits Max, who looks ready for a course of acutane, in a park on the canals. They order a milkshake, served in a jar that looks like a bong from the “coffeeshops.” (I was in one of them in 1999 and wasn’t that interested; the aroma is very sweet. I’ll add that I visited a disco called the Soho there, and was quite entertained by the bar cat, who would sit in patron’s laps in the lounge. I also went to the science museum and saw a curious film about pollination made in Montpelier, France, to music of Maurice Ravel – and not just Bolero). The teenager bends his straw to get the last bit of viscous shake out of the bong well, and that is how Jaap gets his idea for a snake well off Malaysia. (Yes, credit the permissive culture in the Netherlands to a major engineering discovery.)

This is a good short, with a beginning, middle and end. Let the directors On the Lot see it!

There is a coordinated review of the films "A Crude Awakening" and "The Epic of Black Gold" at this link (follow other links).

This film has no connection to the sci-fi TV series “Eureka”.

Here are the links: Shell
URL for film.

(Regarding the upcoming film “The Simpsons” (20th Century Fox, dir. David Silverman, due July 27). On the all-star pre-show tonight they referred to “the only man older than Mr. Burns”. People say I look like Mr. Burns. And I approve of nuclear energy.)


See International Issues blog, Aug. 15, 2008, for email about Nigerian situation.

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