It`s about time Hollywood realized the theatrical potential of preservation -- with its human drama, intrigue, suspense, and classic battles of good versus evil. And now it has! Unfortunately, the preservation hero this time is not a steely Harrison Ford, a cerebral Kevin Spacey, or even a spunky Sandra Bullock, but Nickelodeon’s animated TV character Arnold, a city-dwelling nine-year-old with a positive attitude, strong sense of justice, and footballshaped head.
The feature film Hey, Arnold! will be released June 28. Nickelodeon provides the following synopsis: “Future Tech Industries, a heartless group of developers led by the evil Mr. Scheck, is about to level everything in sight and replace it with a gigantic shopping mall. Approved by the mayor, the redevelopment plan will wipe out a six-square block radius… Someone has to muster the courage to stand up to Scheck… who claims to be looking out for the community but is really looking out for his own bank account. And that someone is Arnold…[With help from his friends] Arnold is going to infiltrate Future Tech and show Scheck the real meaning of progress -- finding new joys in an old neighborhood that stands at the heart of their community!”
Director Tuck Tucker and co-writer Craig Bartlett (who created the characters) claim the idea came to them when their own neighborhood, California’s Glendale and Verdugo mountains community, was threatened by a developer who wanted to tear down the mountains to build 500 new homes. According to Tucker, “The grassroots movement that rose up to fight this developer -- and win -- actually mirrors how Arnold rallies his neighborhood to fight Scheck.”
We’re not expecting the filmmakers to get the details right (the action centers on Arnold retrieving the “all important document” that proves the neighborhood is a historic landmark), but let’s hope their hearts are in the right place.
And for something quite different, look for the independent film Blue Vinyl, a disturbing and sometimes very funny exposé about vinyl siding and the PVC industry by filmmaker Judith Helfand and co-director Daniel B. Gold. Helfand’s disapproval of the new vinyl siding on her parents’ Long Island house starts her on an investigative journey. She visits PVC factories in Louisiana and Italy, and learns about the appalling cancer rates among workers there; meets with scientists and other experts who sound an alarm; and has run-ins with Vinyl Institute spokespeople who are intent on ducking tough questions about their industry. She then convinces her parents to try a more socially responsible alternative. While not a pro preservation film per se, it adds ammunition to the arguments against the use of vinyl siding.
Blue Vinyl won a documentary award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. It was shown on HBO in May and is now being screened in cities around North America, earning more awards and acclaim. For more information, including upcoming show dates, visit www.bluevinyl.org and also see its linked site www.myhouseisyourhouse.org.
Now, if anyone in the film business is reading this, I’ve got this great idea for a screenplay…
Publication Date: July/August 2002