Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Surviving Progress

The hand-wringing, Cassandra-ish documentary “Surviving Progress” is diffuse, inchoate – in short, a mess. The filmmakers interview a bunch of talking heads (many of whom have books to peddle) and give them free rein to ramble discursively about every imaginable problem of civilization: overconsumption of resources, global debt inequities, human rights violations, deforestation. Having no sense of the cinematic, they set the interviews to montages of international images and time-lapse photography. I’m sure they think they have a unifying thesis, but I defy them or anyone in the audience to explain it in a coherent paragraph. Their movie starts with one concept, then veers off into a series of tangents, never finding its way back. (The interviews are so full of “you know” and other extraneous verbiage, you wonder whether they’ve been edited at all.) “Surviving Progress” is dime-store eschatology.

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