Go Further

Ron Mann

Go FurtherRon Mann
Toronto documentary filmmaker Ron Mann originally teamed up with Woody Harrelson to make his 1999 film Grass, the story of the war against marijuana use in the United States. Harrelson narrated that Genie-winning documentary and he is back with Mann again, this time starring in a film about his trek across the Pacific Coast highway in a bus that runs on bio-fuel made from hempseed. The bus is named "the Mothership" and the tour is called SOL (Simple Organic Living). They visit an organic farm, Earth Day celebrations, a tree-free paper manufacturer and Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and early supporter of the Grateful Dead). How hippy can you get? Despite some people's reservations (and often outright hatred) toward neo-hippy culture, this film is refreshing and motivating. Harrelson's passion for saving the environment and encouraging healthy eating habits is inspirational, and his travelling companions seem truly happy to be on board. It's nice to see people who are really happy for a change. There are some annoying scenes, like that of dread-headed sandal wearers kicking around a hacky-sack and a pack of people practicing their protest chants but the most aggravating (and somehow also most entertaining) part of the film is the junk food addicted ex-Will & Grace production assistant who is so naďve that he makes Harrelson look like a university professor. He seems to be on this trip just to fit in with a crowd more than he is to learn about their cause, and so he jumps on the bandwagon a bit too hardcore. Still, he's such a nutty guy that he keeps everyone entertained. Cinematically, Mann uses an interesting technique in incorporating music into the film. When a song begins to play overtop of a segment of the film, the artist appears in the movie for a minute, standing with his or her band within the scenery. The first instance of this has Natalie Merchant standing in a forest that has been partially cut down with a few band members playing behind her as she sings. Anthony Kiedis and Michael Franti appear in much the same way. These moments aren't disruptive to the flow, rather they are surprising and well-crafted. Though there is an element of extreme rhetoric to what Harrelson and his friends are preaching, it's hard to deny that they have a point. Without joining the cult of the Simple Organic Living tour, watching them on their journey makes one feel better about the planet we live on, and that's a feeling that's not just reserved for hippies. (Mongrel Media)
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