Tired and under the weather last week, we skipped a screening of Davis Guggenheim‘s "An Inconvenient Truth," grumbling something about the doc being presented to the public as the equivalent of "cinematic spinach" (and the counter of how many people have "pledged to see the truth" at the top of the official site ain’t helping that impression). Andrea Meyer, one of IFC News writers, tossed that back in our face with a piece that is entirely a direct appeal to the public to see the film. Now, in light of that and other recent press, we stand thoroughly chastised…yes, "An Inconvenient Truth" is Very Important, and we didn’t go, and we Feel Bad. Honestly. Those are not capitalizations of irony.
And see the company we’ve unknowingly kept? James Gerstenzang in the LA Times:
President Bush had a two-word response when he was asked Monday whether he would see Al Gore‘s documentary on global warming.
"Doubt it," the president said during an appearance before the National Restaurant Assn. in Chicago.
Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, an organization that has received over $390,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998… On Fox, Burnett compared [Gore’s] movie… to watching a movie by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels to learn about Nazi Germany… "That’s the problem. If I thought Al Gore’s movie was as you like to say, fair and balanced, I’d say, everyone should go see it. But why go see propaganda? You don’t go see Joseph Goebbels’ films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don’t go see Al Gore’s films to see the truth about global warming," Mr. Burnett asserts. "Burnett recently wrote an editorial defending former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond’s lavish compensation (which amounted to $190,000 a day in 2005). He failed to mention his financial connection to the company."
Oof for just the Goebbels reference alone! Elsewhere, as Linda Feldmann at the Christian Science Monitor writes that the doc, in which Gore apparently comes across as both funny and personable (if only! 2000!) "has set political tongues to wagging: Will he run for president again?" On the wires today, Gore’s said no. Well, no-ish.
"I have no plans to be a candidate, and no intention of being a candidate," Gore said in the interview broadcast on NBC’s "Today" show. But he added: "I’ve said I’m not at the stage of my life where I’m going to say never in the rest of my life will I ever think about such a thing."
David Poland‘s of the spinach argument: "Castor Oil is good for you (I hope), but that doesn’t make it taste any better. McDonald’s is bad for you, but that doesn’t make a large order of fries hot out of the animal fat any less delicious." At Slate, Gregg Easterbrook is inclined to agree he also writes that "The picture the movie paints is always worst-case scenario. Considering the multiple times Gore has given his greenhouse slide show (he says "thousands"), it’s jarring that the movie was not scrubbed for factual precision." He goes on to point out places where the film diverges from the scientific consensus, and wonders at the need for "disaster-movie speculation" when "the science-consensus forecast about sea-level rise is plenty bad enough." And Amanda Griscom Little at Salon looks in at the bipartisan Alliance for Climate Protection.
In an great post, AJ Schnack at All These Wonderful Things wonders if "what is essentially a multimedia lecture writ large can draw the audiences that Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore have with their serio-comic muckraking or whether the public will view this as little more than a politico’s ego trip." He sums up much of the advance buzz on the film, and muses on how it will translate into ticket sales.
But enough of all this â€” to the reviews!
A.O. Scott in the New York Times: "[Gore] speaks of the need to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as a ‘moral imperative,’ and most people who see this movie will do so out of a sense of duty, which seems to me entirely appropriate. Luckily, it happens to be a well-made documentary, edited crisply enough to keep it from feeling like 90 minutes of C-Span and shaped to give Mr. Gore’s argument a real sense of drama. As unsettling as it can be, it is also intellectually exhilarating, and, like any good piece of pedagogy, whets the appetite for further study. This is not everything you need to know about global warming: that’s the point. But it is a good place to start, and to continue, a process of education that could hardly be more urgent. ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is a necessary film."
Rob Nelson at the Village Voice: "[W]henever Guggenheim departs from the show-and-tell to sketch the speaker’s motives, the film makes for compelling psychobiography despite the fact that Gore, stiff as an air-conditioned breeze at the Four Seasons, isn’t the least bit compelling himself."
David Edelstein at New York: " ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is one of the most realistic documentaries Iâ€™ve ever seenâ€”and, dry as it is, one of the most devastating in its implications. See it with your kidsâ€”and watch closely to see who attacks it and on what grounds. I differ with Gore only on his optimism. ‘Political will is a renewable resource,’ he says. Thereâ€™s no accounting for peopleâ€™s nutty faith."
Andrew O’Hehir at Salon: "I’d like to believe that a public figure can speak truth at this level — including the discourse-rotting fact that politicians of both parties are so stuffed with corporate money that they’ve preferred to ignore this issue — while remaining politically viable. But I’m not sure that’s possible now, if it ever was. Gore speaks hopefully of a time when America, by far the most wasteful nation in the world and the biggest contributor to global warming, will face this potentially devastating crisis with a little forthright Yankee techno-ingenuity. But that day, he admits, has not come yet and may not come soon."
+ COMMENTARY: See This Movie, Dammit! "An Inconvenient Truth" (IFC News)
+ President Doubts He’ll See Gore Film (LA Times)
+ An Inconvenient Truth: ExxonMobil has paid crickets comparing Al Gore to Nazis (Movie City Indie)
+ Gore back in the limelight, and setting off a buzz (Christian Science Monitor)
+ Gore limits campaigning to climate change (AP)
+ May 24, 2006 (The Hot Blog)
+ The moral flaws of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. (Slate)
+ "Global warming kills" (Salon)
+ Is Gore’s "Truth" the Next Doc Hit? (All These Wonderful Things)
+ Warning of Calamities and Hoping for a Change in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (NY Times)
+ Fahrenheit 2050 (Village Voice)
+ Devastating in Its Implications (New York)
+ Hurricane Al (Salon)