In 1855, the Suquamish Chief Seattle was asked to sell his land to the United States government. The chief was puzzled by the request: “The president in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?”

How indeed. The advanced, decadent stage of capitalism we’re now living in is heading toward a world where the very idea of public property or common-wealth no longer exists. Ownership of land has been a done deed for ages now, but look out, because step two of the capitalist program is under way — ownership of water.

Water is the most basic of human needs, but as the documentary “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” demonstrates, corporate greed knows no limits. Director Sam Bozzo’s timely film offers a stark vision of the future: “One day every drop of fresh water in the world will be privately owned and controlled. . . . Those who have the ability to pay will have access to the water, those who do not will go without.” That’s one hell of a claim to make, but then again, think about how much you’re paying for a place to live this month.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars
Director Sam Bozzo
Run Time 90 minutes
Language English
Opens Opens Jan. 16, 2010
A Perfect Getaway
Director David Twohy
Run Time 97 minutes
Language English
Opens Opens Jan. 23, 2010

“Blue Gold” examines the varied stresses on water resources — from pollution to runoff, depleted water-tables and dams — which are being compounded by unsustainable usage and a gaggle of multinationals who are banking on the idea that water is the new oil. (Somehow it’s no surprise to find out that the Bush family is involved in buying up huge tracts of land in Paraguay above the region’s largest aquifer. His neighbors are a U.S. military base and the Moonies.)

The doc follows the familiar format of the problem presented, the nightmare future considered, and a rousing call for change at the end. “Blue Gold,” for once, does have some success stories to tout, whether it’s the revolt in Bolivia against the over-priced privatization (and foreign corporate control) of the nation’s water supply, or the resistance of Midwest Republicans, no less, to Perrier draining their local water sources.

“Blue Gold” remains strictly focused on the gritty realities of water scarcity and the politics of privatization, but viewers would do well to keep in mind the closing words of Chief Seattle from two centuries ago: “To harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator.”

There’s plenty of blue in “A Perfect Getaway,” which is set on the idyllic coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Director David Twohy (“Pitch Black,” 2000) has his characters lounging in lagoons, drenched in tropical rainstorms, and kayaking through the crashing waves, but you know that soon enough there’s gonna be some warm red blood running through all that aquamarine.

This is a straight-up suspense/survival flick that wastes no time in getting things rolling. A goofy newlywed couple (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) are on their honeymoon, hiking through narrow jungle trails to the remotest beach on the island. They meet two other couples on the trail, one scary (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton) and one flaky (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez). They soon learn that a gruesome murder just took place on Oahu, and that the killers — also a young couple — are still on the loose.

Let the head games begin: Are the scary couple really nasty, or do their tattoos and ‘tude just rub people the wrong way? And what’s up with flaky dude waving around a knife while talking about his special-forces service in Baghdad? Are the newlyweds being too suspicious of their new friends, or not suspicious enough?

Like any recent film of this type, you can expect it to manipulate you shamelessly before revealing a third act plot twist that turns everything on its head. To its credit, “A Perfect Getaway” has a good one, although — as is often the case — it doesn’t hold up too well if you think about it for more than a minute. Still, Zahn always does a great dweeb, Olyphant walks a fine line between charmingly eccentric and run-for-your-life crazy, and there’s a great cat-fight between Jovovich and Sanchez, for those of you who like that sort of thing.

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