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Saturday, December 7, 2013

GREEDY LYING BASTARDS -- DVD review by porfle

You pretty much know in advance that any documentary entitled GREEDY LYING BASTARDS (2012) is going to be pure propaganda, which this one is.  Whether you object to this or pump your fists and cheer depends entirely upon which side of the global warming/climate change debate you happen to be on.

If it's the latter,  then writer-director Craig Rosebraugh and executive producer Daryl Hannah have just the movie for you.  Rosebraugh kicks things off with a terrifying montage of natural calamities worthy of Cecil B. De Mille, including tornados, wildfires, hurricanes,  and floods, and blames them all on global warming.  Tearful accounts of lost homes and possessions by sad families are accompanied by mournful music, and one kid finds his mom's scorched Nativity stable, a precious family heirloom, while rummaging through their home's charred ruins.

After a few minutes of this, of course, we tend to stop listening critically to what's being said since the music is already giving us the gist of how we're supposed to react.  More effective in my opinion are the first-hand accounts of people living close to nature in Alaska and the tropics whose environments are being made uninhabitable by gradual changes that might or might not be caused by global warming.  I'm still not sure what to think about the midwestern farmer demonstrating how dry his drought-ridden field is by squirting a garden hose at it for five minutes.

Rosebraugh's trod through familiar Michael Moore territory also includes his own world-weary regular-guy narration as he appears in the film as both sympathetic observer and muckraking crusader.  He also includes old film footage in a funny-ironic way along with plenty of animated charts and diagrams, and offers various experts and other designated hitters who agree with him (and whom we are to believe without question) a platform to express their views and present their case at length.  This includes several Democratic politicians and representatives of organizations such as Greenpeace.

The other side--that is, those who claim global warming is a hoax based on unreliable or fabricated scientific findings--is represented by "hired guns" and "career skeptics"  working for such greedy, lying bastards as Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and big tobacco.  The usual suspects, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly,  and, of course, Fox News, are demonized along the way, as are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, and Clarence Thomas.   Anyone else espousing a negative view of climate change is dismissed as either a charlatan or a moron, or both.

Rosebraugh, a long-time political activist whom Wikipedia tells us was once dubbed "The Face of Eco-Terrorism" by The New York Times Magazine and is a former spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, comes to the fore late in the film when he tries to "get ahold of" the CEO of ExxonMobil by phone.  After failing to do so, his response is pure Michael Moore: "This was typical of trying to get interviews with big corporations.  I guess he was busy with world domination that day."

Later, he purchases some stock in ExxonMobil so that he can gain admittance to a shareholders' meeting in which he can actually lob a few words across a crowded room at the man in question, briefly giving the film a bit of that old ROGER AND ME vibe.  I kept hoping that he might also mention the irony of his getting from place to place by automobile, since there are several shots of him driving around including one in which he pulls up across a lake from an oil refinery and poses dramatically against it.  One of the film's final images is a montage of fossil-fuel-hungry consumers gassing up their cars, but we never actually see Rosebraugh himself doing it. 

The DVD from Shelter Island and One Earth Productions is in 1.78:1 widescreen with 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo sound.  Closed-captions available.  Included are 18 minutes of bonus material that didn't make it into the final cut.

The end credits song,  "B.A.S.F. (Bastards and Swine Forever)" exclaims: "I want to kick and I want to punch...pain and suffering is never enough..."   If you bear similar ill will toward the GREEDY LYING BASTARDS that Rosebraugh rails against then you'll probably enjoy being a member of the choir that he's preaching to here.  But without the entertainment value which Michael Moore manages to instill in his own personal statements, this strident activist's message tends toward the dull side.

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