A good year for women on film, as exemplified in new releases The Eyes of My Mother, Miss Sloane, and more
Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
Like the outstanding 2011 documentary Project Nim, Chasing Ice tells the story of a man's quest to do something extraordinary while at the same time telling the story of the man himself. Unlike Project Nim, the biography portion of the story is here served up not as a sly counterpoint, but simply as enhancement to the glory of the quest. Nature photographer James Balog, whose Extreme Ice Project sought to document the disappearance of various glaciers worldwide through time-lapse photography, comes off as a driven, decent man who is convinced of the importance and excellence of his work. He is seeking to provide the public with a clear, graphic image that manifests the reality of global warming, and he thinks he's found it in the jittery depiction of glacial recession, deflation, and disintegration. If there is any slyness at work, it's in Balog's use of beauty to alert the viewer to this or that horror: the man who once took elaborately staged photos of animals in order to draw attention to their slaughter here presents us with haunting stills of icy architecture in order to make us fear the ice's disappearance. It's morality by way of pleasing visuals, as if beauty, truth, and goodness really were one and the same thing. Extreme Ice Project team member Jeff Orlowski directed. 2012.