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Merchants of Doubt (2014)
Engaging look at the politics of climate change... from one perspective
I saw "Merchants of Doubt" recently at the TIFF festival, and would recommend watching it, as it an engaging, well-structured and well-paced look at the politics of climate change from one perspective.
Robert Kenner, of Food, Inc. fame, focuses "Merchants of Doubt" on the politics of climate change, and the individuals and corporations responsible for helping shape public opinion. The film integrates recent history, similar industries and interviews with a wide-range of members, exceptionally-well. Kenner, I believe, would make an excellent teacher on how to produce documentaries.
The major and I mean major downside of this film is that it is incredibly one-sided. One review from We Got This Covered put it exceptionally-well, which is that "As he tries to side his audience against the skeptics, Kenner ends up using the same tactics that they do." Kenner is "content to regurgitate the same facts again and again, hoping his audience will be convinced enough to not want to hear the other side."
If you are familiar with how politics works, then much of this is not new. This is why it is surprising that someone of Kenner's pedigree would not challenge the "tribal" system of climate change, instead, taking a stance.
Third Person (2013)
Well-intentioned but Forced
*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***
Paul Haggis has a heavy burden after winning Best Picture at the Oscars with "Crash," as high expectations have soon formulated any time he creates an interwoven story. Third Person, with its stellar cast and beautiful scenery, amplifies the hype, but unlike its predecessor, it doesn't deliver.
Third Person tells three love stories, featuring unrelatable caricatures. Liam Neeson is a Pulitzer-prize winner author, who smokes cigarettes in darkness and slams his Macbook when ideas don't seamlessly flow to him (people do that?). Olivia Wilde is a charming though emotionally-detached single-in-the-city gal. Adrian Brody is an American in Rome who detests the culture yet thrives in stealing. James Franco is artist-son of wealthy New Yorkers really? The characters often lack chemistry and their development often seems forced to fill the 'love du jour' trend of love-then-fighting-then love again. The performances are uninspiring, with the exception of Mila Kunis, who plays an ex-soap opera star and single mother trying to get her life back together.
Haggis spent many years crafting this film, but he had to verbally inform the audience of many of the interwoven intricacies. The film will appeal to the New York liberal intellectual crowd who thrive on 'complex' characters, but ultimately, this movie is all sizzle, no steak.
After the TIFF movie premiere, Haggis candidly stated that for the film he had difficulty attaining financing until the last minute. Perhaps this was an omen.