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The Unforeseen | Review

In the Name of Progress: Doc film shows that we’ve got it all backwards.

Serving as a filmic antithesis of everything that a person like Donald Trump believes in, while popular enviro-docus like the much publicized Gore feature have demonstrated the grandeur of environmental of the problem, when scaled down to one geographic location and one micro-budget talking heads documentary form, you almost get the sense that the light-bulbs in future audience’s minds might actually begin to switch on. Demonstrating that we are collectively misguided if we believe that we are aging gracefully, Laura Dunn tactfully demonstrates by way of a reflective docu-essay that the biggest social violence in our suburban sprawls. The Unforseen relives the past and foreshadows the future answering the decade old question of where have the fishes gone? in both a lyrical and just plain honest voice of reason.

Faded memories of an almost virginal, pure and clean place where one would beat the summer heat, Barton Springs was once a place where the young and old needn’t worry about preserving. Today people talk about it as if it were a myth. Not surprisingly, passages from the words of wisdom from Wendell Berry are haunting reminders that we weren’t listening when the first knife wounds had begun to penetrate the fragile skins. Dunn pulls out the blue prints and documented proof that explores the hunger for real-estate development, the gentrification and overpopulation of society and disrespecting of mother-nature, and while we might think that it is the hardhat testimonials that will easily condemn the culprits for Austin, Texas’s descent into concrete landscapes and unnatural surroundings it is vivid underwater shots of a lifeless stream that is louder than any admissions of wrong-doing.

Technically there are spurts that give off the impression “made for PBS”, but Dunn benefits from the insertion of excellent graphics for title cards from Kyle Cooper (present day equivalent to Saul Bass) and Lee Daniel provides depth to long tracking shot-like poetic encompassing sense of space from ground-level to high above. Supportively, the doc benefits from film world legions, preservationists and fathers of nature in Terrence Malick and Robert Redford. Hopefully this Sundance doc will receive the more love and support than some of the streams that flow throughout America.

Reviewed on: January 20th 2007 – Sundance Film Festival.

Rating 3.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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