WOODY HARRELSON is calling on speaker phone from Eugene, Ore. That's because, he says, he just climbed a mountain ("I don't know what it's called, I call it beautiful") and he's doing his stretches. Between contortions, or whatever lotus this-or-that he's doing, he talks about "Go Further," the travel-diary documentary by Ron Mann, which opens Friday. (See review on Page 36.) It documents a 2001 West Coast bus tour organized by the actor to draw attention to the things he's concerned about, such as pollution of air and water, deforestation and the increasing amount of biotechnology affecting the world's food supply.
On the trip, known as the "SOL (simple organic living) Tour," he brought along a handful of allies, including his raw-food chef, yoga instructor and a former production executive named Steve Clark, whose good intentions to lead the good life are hampered by a powerful addiction to junk food.
"I think the guy's amazing," says Harrelson about Clark. "The most electrifying guy. He's the life of any party he goes to. I love him. I'm hoping the movie does well for him to the point where he -- I think he'd be great on a TV reality show. People like me are self-conscious with a camera around. Put on him and he just goes, and it's glorious."
Clark's a useful comedic element in a film with a serious ideological agenda.
"I see it as the little movie that could," says Harrelson, who has started up his tour again and is promoting the movie in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.
The tour is about "sustainability. It's about using no-wood paper instead of wood paper, using bio-diesel instead of regular diesel or ethanol instead of gasoline. I've worn these hemp and organic fabric clothes. It's about consciousness. I don't want pesticides to be used for textiles and my clothes."
He directs his listener to his Web site www.VoiceYourself.org, a nonprofit endeavor that is Harrelson's attempt to articulate his philosophy, vision and alliances with similar groups. It also features a poem he wrote, after a dream in which he visited the White House with a woman friend called America, who caught the eye of President Bush and, well, it's a little too salty to relate here. With his Web site and activism, Harrelson wants to appeal to what he considers to be a growing number of concerned people, whom he dubs "cultural creatives."
"They look at what is happening in our society, which is dominated by industrial interests that are detrimental to the environment and getting fat subsidies and tax breaks, and controlling the economy and the body politic."
Harrelson, who took off five years to pursue his activism, says he's back in the thick of moviemaking. But he intends to keep going with his bus and consciousness-raising whenever he can spare the time.
"2005 is looking backed-up right now," he says, referring to his acting schedule. "But I want to take a month and do some tour on the East Coast. Probably start out in Toronto. Right now it's a mental blueprint."
He notes with irony that the release of "Go Further" in Washington coincides with "After the Sunset," a major movie about a master thief, featuring Pierce Brosnan and himself.
"You got one movie with a production budget of $40 million. And the other with a budget of, like, 40 bucks."
No guesses as to which is which.
After the 7 p.m. Friday screening of "Go Further" at Landmark's E Street Cinema (11th and E streets NW; 202-783-9494 for more information), Danielle Rolli, farm manager at Community Harvest, will discuss the program at Urban Oasis Farm, a living-learning program for youth, and will discuss food production issues. Scheduled for Saturday's 7 p.m. after-show discussion are Josh Balk from Compassion Over Killing, who'll advocate the social and personal benefits of a vegetarian diet, and Chef DJ, who'll distribute samples from Java Green restaurant's all-vegetarian menu. And after the 2:10 Sunday screening, yoga practitioners will discuss and share the benefits of yoga.
'EASY RIDER' RIDES AGAIN
Looking for adventure? Or do you remember the days when you did? Or dreamed you did? Or wished you did? Or glad you never did? The 1969 "Easy Rider," one of the great indie movies of all time, which put Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson on the Map of Hip, is 35 years old. And the American Film Institute offers a great opportunity to relive the experience or see it for the first time, with a restored print. It plays at the Silver Theatre through Thursday.
Made on the eve of the new Hollywood, the time of filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Hal Ashby, Peter Bogdanovich and Arthur Penn, this was the movie of a generation. It was about the counterculture and the hippie life and getting high, sure. But it was also about American freedom and independence. (The characters' names were Wyatt and Billy.) It was about being yourself in the face of homogenous, repressive ideology.
This was also the time of Woodstock, assassinations, Vietnam. There was so much out there to protest. And rock while you were doing it. What a soundtrack: music by Steppenwolf, the Byrds, the Band, the Holy Modal Rounders, Jimi Hendrix and the Fraternity of Man.
Two hippie, dope-smoking bikers (Hopper and Fonda) traverse the Southwest bound for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (They sold drugs to finance the trip and buy their bikes, a plot detail that would never see the light of day in these times.) They experience a sort of stoner Odyssey, meeting fellow hippies and other travelers, driving through Monument Valley, experiencing America. Along the way, they meet (in a jail cell) a drunken ACLU lawyer, George (Nicholson), who helps them and himself out of prison, then joins them on their journey. He's a special one, this George. Likes to take a big slug of Jim Beam, flap his arms and say "nik, nik, nik!" And he takes to Wyatt and Billy's joints like a duck to water.
But enough of this disgraceful, decadent lifestyle! Go see it for yourself at the AFI. Hey, it's cultural history. Also available: the new Discovery Channel book "American Chopper at Full Throttle," available for purchase in the AFI Silver Theatre lobby. The theater is at 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit www.afi.com/silver.
* Three of Akira Kurosawa's classic movies, "Rashomon," "The Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo," will be shown in rotation Friday through Thursday at the renovated Old Town Theater in Alexandria (8151/2 King St.). These are 35mm prints, not DVDs. And at the Friday and Saturday shows, the theater will feature live demonstrations of batto-do (sword-drawing). Also, two sushi chefs will make fresh sushi in the theater. Plus Japanese beer will be available. For more information, call 703-683-8888 or visit www.oldtowntheater.com.
* Resfest, a traveling multimedia tour, comes to the National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium with a minifest of short films, music videos and animation. Starting at 6 Friday and 4 Saturday, you can see these evening shows, as well as workshops and live music events. This year's event also includes a retrospective (10 p.m. Saturday) of the works of director Jonathan Glazer, maker of the movie "Sexy Beast" and "Birth," as well as award-winning ads and music videos. Admission is $12. An all-access ResPass, which includes entrance to all screenings and events, is $55. Tickets are available online. For more information, visit www.resfest.com.
* Sunday marks the final showing of "Journey to Lasta," a new independent feature film by Ethiopian director Wondwossen D. Dikran. The film, which screens at 4 at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW, is about three childhood friends from Ethiopia whose dream is to bring modern Ethiopian music to the world. The roles are played by the three members of the group Lasta Sound, Tsegaye B. Selassie, Kirubel Assefa and Teferi Assefa, who perform Afro-Caribbean music with Amharic lyrics. For more information, visit www.journeytolasta.com. Admission is $15. Call 202-232-4729 for more information.
-- Desson Thomson