"I wanted to make a documentary about something that needed to be talked about. I spend much of my energies telling fictitious stories. This is a very true story. An important one."
Jeremy Irons, interviewed for IFFP
When someone like Jeremy Irons speaks, you figure people will listen. Because he's Jeremy goddamn Irons, top tier A-lister, Best Actor Oscar winner. As in Dead Ringers, The Lion King, Die Hard 3 Jeremy Irons, who can even make a papal wardrobe look passable.
Which leads me to one simple question:
Trashed, starring Jeremy Irons; have you heard of it and seen it? Because I hadn't. At least, not until recently visiting a film festival (the IFFP) on the Greek island of Patmos. And it was after the screening that I got to interview Jeremy Irons and admit that his new movie had been new news to me.
Yes, a little awkward. But also telling. And rallying.
So let me save you the same admission, tell you about Trashed, and compel you to see it too.
RENEWED AURAL CLARITY
Trashed is a documentary that needs to be seen, that needs to enter the mainstream. It's an eco-warning, a not just inconvenient but downright harrowing set of truths about recycling and how we're (still) trashing the planet.
Yet while a life of making and chucking away plastic anything should come with a multi-generational cancer-causing health warning, we've heard this enough to stop thinking about the implications and start humming to the white noise.
By lending the flame of celebrity, Irons is hoping for renewed aural clarity.
"I feel it's incumbent on people who have a profile to raise the profile of these issues. We have no agenda. We don't have to answer to shareholders. We artists just get to look at the world around us, free of bias, so we get to see it pretty clearly."
Irons, a UN Goodwill Ambassador (of the Food and Agriculture Organization) also served as Executive Producer on Trashed. He hasn't just volunteered name and a studio day on voice over duties. Irons stresses,"I wanted to be the voice of the AUDIENCE, to really be there, in it, the one asking the questions the audience would like to ask."
Consequently, Irons puts himself in the frame and narrative cross hairs. He is not just our guide but our eye witness, travelling from Lebanon to San Francisco, via the UK, Iceland and Vietnam. The globe-trotting is the opposite of glossy. It demonstrates the scale of the issue, conveyed in a style the critics like to call "brave". Certainly Trashed doesn't hold back on the heavy punches; when Irons is feeling it, you feel it too. To leave a lasting impression sometimes requires the suspension of sugar-coated niceties.
TIME TO SUIT UP
Irons is entirely right when he says, "There is a clear feeling from a growing number of people that the time has come for us all to start to try and change our ways, and to endeavour to live a more careful life."
Yet while Trashed may be timely, and the sentiment growing, even Jeremy Irons can only open so many doors, hearts and minds to a set of ideas that needs to become a better way of life. The trick is: how do you get everyone to see it? "Is Trashed creating the reaction you'd hoped?", I ask. "Is it being talked about the way you'd hoped?" Irons is very open in response. "It's always difficult to know."
Because "green" still creates an audible groan. Eco messages still fall on too many deaf ears. Until the sky falls or the seas rise enough to start building Arks and grabbing our snorkels, the great danger is we'll continue to dismiss "green" as the preoccupation of tree huggers and tofu munchers. This stuff doesn't tend to fan the flames of fanboy frenzy, get the whispering classes yabbering, or trend in Cyberspace like a new Bond or Batman movie.
Assemble the Avengers and the Box Office tills will trill to a note in the billion dollars register. But make a documentary about trash, which makes us feel not like superheroes but planet-trashing parasites... well, it's a tougher selling flavour of Kool Aid.
Only, Trashed is a Kool Aid we need to drink and a message we must heed. Avenger-like, we need to assemble, to suit up, as individuals and as a society. We need to watch movies like Trashed, start being smarter and behaving better - in order to save this planet and give us any shot of there being a real-life sequel. We need to listen to Jeremy Irons:
"We have to build up general public consensus. We have to change our ways. We have to build a movement about an unacceptable state of affairs."
Rotten Tomatoes gave Trashed 87%. Go to IMDB and Trashed gets an 8.6 out of 10... but having so far generated one 'user review'.
You don't have to search deep in cyberspace to establish that Trashed hasn't gone supernova. It's says everything about our Ctrl-Alt-Comment times, when a 0.20 second performing Google search for "Trashed" takes you one click away from IMDB - where Trashed's one user review is from a guy who watched it at the Cork Film Festival and calls it "well intentioned".
Society still inclines to mobilize en masse and devote its time to the pop culturally trivial. Sneezing panda's, Clit Lit and South Korean pop videos become global idea viruses. 'PSY - GANGNAM STYLE' is closing in on 2 billion views on YouTube and nearly 8 million 'Likes'.
The challenge with a movie like Trashed is how you get a subject of significance to not just ripple but shockwave the Zeitgeist.
This is where you and I come in. As Irons points out, "Those who see Trashed, some are decision-makers, many can be influencers. Trashed screened in New York, where Mayor Bloomberg subsequently made a statement that from now on, all plastics of whatever type, would be recycled."
So consider this a Bat sign in the night sky. Embrace this like Bloomberg and let's get Trashed trending. Tweet @TrashedFilm and this link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UM73CEvwMY. Then VOD it through Vimeo for $5.99. It's coffee shop money, certainly worth 98 minutes of your time.
See it, tweet it, trend it. Please. And if you don't, I might just tell Jeremy. And you can trust me, you don't want that kind of awkward.