Tuesday, July 29, 2014         


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Ineffective storytelling dilutes film's message

By David Lewis

San Francisco Chronicle


  "Greedy Lying Bastards" is a provocative premise for a documentary: The oil industry and various groups are thwarting progress on battling climate change in the face of meteorological disasters and mounting scientific evidence that humans cause global warming.

But this film spends a lot of time telling, rather than showing, at least when it comes to the greedy, lying bastards whom we are eager to learn about. The trend is set at the beginning, with an extended sequence involving Colorado forest fires and their victims.

Rated: PG-13
Opens today at Kahala 8

Instead of seeing more of the purported villains impeding progress, we view a lot of killer tornadoes, raging wildfires, etc., and hear from a lot of climate experts. While that footage is visually effective, the warning that global warming poses a serious problem is not exactly new territory for the millions of Americans familiar with "An Inconvenient Truth" and countless TV specials.

The film does not take into account perhaps even greater problems than the greedy, lying bastards: the lack of political will among the American people to fix the problem, or the fact the government is so broke and dysfunctional that it can hardly pave the highways, let alone tackle a herculean task like global warming.

The film's structural flaws appear to stem from the lack of access to oil industry titans and the other usual suspects. (To be fair, the filmmakers tried.) Conspiracies aren't always photogenic, though better storytelling might have made this project more of the exposé it wanted to be.

Watching the film is like being on a jury in which you know the defendant is probably guilty, but alas, there's not enough evidence to convict.

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