No country on earth imprisons its own citizens as much as the United States and the war on drugs is such a total failure that it actually does more harm than good.
Those sad truths make up the main premise of The House I Live In, which plays Wednesday, May 29 at Millennium Place at 7 p.m. as part of the Whistler Arts Council's excellent Movie Madness Documentary series.
Directed by Eugene Jarecki (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) this doc examines the history and social implications behind the mass jailing of non-violent drug offenders (most of which are minorities) under lengthy mandatory minimum sentences. The film essentially positions the US "War on Drugs" as a vote-grabbing form of racial control that imprisons hugely disproportionate numbers of the nation's "undesirables." As lower income families and entire communities lose their father figures to long, mandatory sentences a vicious cycle ensues that actually ends up creating more broken homes and more undesirables.
Jarecki also focuses on the shady economics behind it all (prisons and law enforcement are huge industries and convicted felons can't take the white man's jobs) while everyone from cops to judges to Harvard professors confess that the War on Drugs costs trillions and has not even put a tiny dent in curbing drug use. It's a bit grim, but The House I Live In is well-researched, well put together and gives a clear overview of a massive social problem.
But the best reason to see this flick is because Stephen Harper and the Canadian government are going full steam ahead on copying this proven-to-fail U.S. model of big privatized prisons and mandatory minimum sentences. With less distinct minorities up here, expect Herr Harper to go after people who smoke pot or protest pipelines. Last year, Harper awarded a $38.5 million prison-building contract to one of his buddies, who just so happens to also be an Enbridge executive.
Watch The House I Live In and think about why we would want to go down that path. Then maybe even write a letter about it, or try harder to vote next time. Go Canada!
But movies are mostly supposed to be fun distractions so lets kick it over to the Whistler Village 8. Mindless escapism (and drugs) are on display in The Hangover 3 and the Fast and Furious 6 is chock-full of fast cars, big muscles and chicks in short skirts. This Fast and Furious has one of the soap opera-iest plots ever but it also has people jumping out of cars that are flying through the air, and then flying even farther through the air themselves. Dumb fun, explosions, airplanes, tanks, The Rock, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez star.
On Friday, the animated Epic opens. It's about a teenage girl transported to a secret, forest-y world where she meets cool-fun warriors and saves both that world and her own. Made by the studio behind the Ice Age flicks this Avatar knock-off will probably be the first big cartoon of the summer.
Now You See Me hits screens next Wednesday. It's about a group of illusionist magicians who also rob banks and stick it to the man. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher (hot) and Woody Harrison, this one looks awesome. Not so much: After Earth, also opening Wednesday. Will Smith and his son star as a couple of bad-asses who crash-land on earth about 1,000 years after humans abandoned it. Unfortunately After Earth is made by M. Knight Shamalayan, who almost always sucks. Just say no.