Movie Review: The China Syndrome (1979)

The China Syndrome ___ 10/10
Precautionary, thrilling Hollywood tale

[Originally reviewed on the Coffee Coaster: 5/11/2007]

Written by Mike Gray and T.S. Cook
Directed by James Bridges

Jane Fonda … Kimberly Wells
Jack Lemmon … Jack Godell
Michael Douglas … Richard Adams
Wilford Brimley … Ted Spindler

Trying to stay with sort of a weekly theme, I cast about for environmental movies outside of Al Gore’s documentary.  During my read of the book for this week, The Weather Makers, I discovered a few notable scientists—chiefly James Lovelock (author of the Gaia concept)—argue for nuclear energy as a the only realistic means for escaping the global warming conundrum.

Needless to say, Lovelock has many critics.  Certainly his nuke hypothesis is reasonable, especially with the advent of fail-safe pebble-bed reactors.  But I think most environmentalists see renewables (solar, wind) and other methods (biomass) as fully capable of replacing carbon-intensive sources.

At any rate, one movie that offers a warning, at least on the current “fail-deadly” technology of nuclear power, while at the same time providing top-notch entertainment value is The China Syndrome.  In a profound case of life imitating art, the Three Mile Island partial core meltdown occurred 12 days after the US release date (March 16, 1979).[1]

The plot centers around Kimberly Wells (a very young, and hot Jane Fonda) an LA TV news reporter, who feels stuck doing ridiculous human-interest fare.  In her features capacity, she gets a chance to travel to the (fictional) Ventana Nuclear Power Plant to perform what amounts to a puff piece on local atomic energy. Continue reading

Movie Review: Interstate 60 (2002)

Fantasy-blend morality play, political fun _ 6.5/10

Interstate 60Bob Cody: Ever hear of Frederick Turner, Mr. Oliver?
Neal Oliver: No, Sir.
Bob Cody: Well, he was an historian. About a hundred years ago he came up with a theory about the frontier. He said the frontier was a safety valve for civilization, a place for people to go to keep from goin’ mad. So, whenever there were folks who couldn’t fit in with the way things were, nuts, and malcontents, and extremists, they’d pack up and head for the frontier. That’s how America got started…
Neal Oliver: What about space? You know, the final frontier!
Bob Cody: Ah, Star Trek, that isn’t space. That’s television – fine fuckin’ frontier that is. Besides, how many folks can just pack up and go to space? Continue reading

Movie Review: Swing Shift (1984)

Small WWII movie with big-budget impact

Swing Shift

“Mable Stoddard’s husband is in the Pacific. She took this job for the duration.
‘Mrs. Stoddard, how do you like your job?’
‘I love it.’
‘How about after the war, do you plan to keep on working.’
‘Well as I was saying, when my husband comes back, I’m going    to be busy, at home.’
‘Good for you.’
“Each returning serviceman will get his job back when the war is won.  And you girls and women, you’ll be going home.  Back to being housewives and mothers as you promised to do when you came to work for us. Your lives will return to normal.”
— Post-war announcement by industry spokesman Continue reading