Vol. 9, No. 20
May 17-23, 2001
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Dirty Movies:
When Real Life and Cinema Get Confused

At theaters this season, the trend is one-word films: There's Traffic, Blow, Forsaken and Driven.

We hear that coming soon is a new movie, with a simple and straightforward title: Trash.

And rumor has it that Trash will be filmed along the highways, streets and country roads of Anne Arundel and Calvert counties.

It will open with a sack being flung from the window of a red sedan on West Street with close-ups of the contents escaping into the wind. We'll know in a moment the source of these props by the markings on the sandwich wrappers and French fry cartons. In slow motion, the cola cup, still with ice, bounces end-over-end like a punted footfall on turf. Until it is crushed by a yellow truck, whose driver happens to be flipping a mostly-smoked cigarette out her window.

There will be scenes from a roving camera at strip malls along Route 2-4, where curbs resemble entrances to landfills. We'll see the smashed plastic big-wheels along with other toy trash that flew off a truck on the South River Bridge on Sunday. Just in time for the movie, a hidden camera on Franklin Gibson Road captured a green stuffed chair being slid into the ditch in the wee hours last weekend.

Another camera filmed the remains of a female mallard foolish enough to try to claim a bread crust that a motorist flung on to Mayo Road. While hopping from scene to scene, still another camera caught signs and messages flapping from telephone polls, some stapled there by people who profess to be conservationists.

Of course, this movie will have water scenes from the Chesapeake Bay: close-ups of plastic milk cartons bobbing at a marina on Herring Bay alongside polystyrene coffee cups, in a sheen caused by empty containers of outboard motor oil that had been tossed out to sea.

The scenes in this movie will be especially grim given the lushness of the season and the natural beauty of our Chesapeake Bay.

Trash won't cost a lot to make or require much travel or time to film. Because, as you may have noticed, the garbage on our streets and roads is endless, as if we've forgotten the rudiments of civilized living.

It will be easy to spot the villains, but who will the heroes be? One hero will be the woman of an advancing age who parked her car and hiked along Route 258 on Monday morning snaring beer cans with a wire crab net.

Will others claim starring roles? Are strip mall landlords too cheap to routinely clean the grounds they profit from? Are others of us too worried about sprawl, dumb development and future environmental calamities to worry about a little thing like litter?

Come to think of it, Trash might not be a film worth watching, seeing as how most of us don't care for heavy messages. Or endings we already know.

Then again, if more than a few of us pitch in to help - by picking up what we can, by carping at litter criminals and by spreading the word about the value of clean streets and roads in high-quality living - perhaps this film will turn out worth watching.

Maybe the best thing about Trash is that you won't have to pay money to see it. It's playing each time you leave home.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly