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Last Call at the Oasis

Dallas International Film Festival 2012 Review

Participant Media; 105 minutes

Director: Jessica Yu

Written by on April 21, 2012 

We have to wake up. The world we live in has a finite amount of resources, and chief among them is water. Up to 60% of the human body is made of water. Yet few Americans ever think twice about this precious resource until water restrictions are enforced. Even then, we may not notice all that much. Once the restrictions are over, life goes back to normal. Yet, if we continue on our current path, life may never be the same. This is the central theme of Last Call At The Oasis, an eye-opening documentary that challenges us to think outside of our own personal bubble and realize where humanity is headed.

Giving your attention to a documentary that is asking, pleading, and informing you to take action may feel dire. But sticking your head in the sand is not a responsible action when water affects everyone and everything. My own questions were even answered, such as, what about the fact that the Earth has so many bodies of water all around? The ocean is vast and seemingly endless, can’t we use that as a water source? The basics are that it is not feasible because of the waste it creates, the expense it takes, and the energy it expends.

Nearly every topic and subject of why our water is running out is given time and discussion, but the outlook is dire unless we change our ways. Drinking bottled water isn’t just demonized because of the waste that it causes. Instead, it is attacked because it takes away the importance of clean water for the masses and puts it instead in the hands of a select few. Additionally, we are informed that what we perceive as clean, filtered water because it comes out of a bottle, isn’t likely true. The regulations are incredibly lax on the filtration of the water and it rarely, if ever, does it come from the place the label claims. This process has turned water, the lifeblood of the Earth, into a product, bottled and sold to the ignorant masses.

That is just a drop of the information within Last Call. Yet everything coalesces into a cohesive narrative that is easy to follow. Director Jessica Yu focuses on stories and people that help give the documentary a human aspect that is profoundly affecting. Activist Erin Brockovich occupies a portion of the film in her ever-lasting battle with the EPA and her current fight against a toxin known as Chromium VI in Midland, Texas. Having never seen anything about Brockovich outside of Steven Soderbergh‘s Julia Roberts-starring drama, she is as smart and determined as one would imagine. Other experts in the field of water are sprinkled throughout as well, and many are highly entertaining with stories that simply make you shake your head in disgust of the barriers in their way.

There is no human face given to the enemy here. That’s because most of the issues we face are caused by our own ignorant actions. The fact is that we can’t continue down the path we are on. Last Call makes all of that abundantly clear with solid science and rebuttals to nearly every argument. More than anything the film is entertaining, despite its dire forecasts, which shows that the effort has been made to reach an audience that might not tune into a documentary of this kind. Yet nothing feels held back or neutered for the sake of entertainment, an incredible feat in my eyes.

A great documentary should inform and serve a purpose. Last Call At The Oasis is a roaring success by those qualifications, and manages to keep one’s attention throughout. The fact that this is an important message and relevant to every single person adds to why it is necessary viewing. Water, like air, is an essential part of our life and we have to protect the finite resources we are given. This is a wake-up call. Action is necessary, because inaction is why we are at this point in the first place.

Last Call at the Oasis is screening at DIFF and will be in theaters May 4th.


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