How do you make a documentary with Tristan Harris, Renee DiResta, Guillaume Chaslot, Jonathan Haidt, and Baron Lanier that is bad? These are some of the most delightful and absurd thinkers of our time and to see them reduced to this project is disheartening. A documentary that gets progressively worse the longer it goes on.
More of an Op-Ed in visual form than a Doc, having Tristan as the human center piece was a foolish choice. I love him, but he is not someone you should build a film project around. The PSA like live reenactment segments devolved steadily in quality and content.
To anyone interested in these topics I would highly recommend you seek out the names I listed above for their many in depth interviews and discussions as well as the many delightful and insightful conversations Lex Fridman has had on his Podcast, which often addresses these topics to varying degrees.
Biased and logically incoherent the longer Justin Rosenstein talks toward the end. It’s funny to see this begin sensationalizing its own content while attempting to form an argument against it. An unfortunate massive flub on a topic of immense interest. Similar to The Great Hack.
If you want me to save you roughly two hours, data rights are important and we need to talk about how to categorize them and hold large data companies accountable. If you want to read what I thought of The Great Hack, read on.
Under-specific, disjointed, overproduced, unreliably presented, overtly biased, and passively boring. There is an interesting overuse of the word Psychology and it’s numerous suffixes, and an equally interesting complete lack of the word Sociology and it’s suffixes in this picture. This leaves me with a feeling that the people speaking are not informed specialists on how to perceive individual behavior on a macroscopic scale.
If and when a Documentarian is entrenched not just physically but morally and politically with the subjects they are covering, then they need to establish a timeline with evidence. Unfortunately, this largely felt like a reenactment to make some individuals be seen as heroic. The Brink was much more legitimate in this way and left much of the overt narration found here as something to be read between the lines while Bannon toured Europe or spoke on the phone. If this material were presented by an Investigative Journalist as a limited podcast it would be quite riveting. Such as Rukmini Callimachi’s Caliphate Podcast from the spring of 2018, which notably also began with a mission statement.
I’m still waiting for the unanimously great Doc of 2019. I’m also starting to get a sense that these releases (The Great Hack, Fyre, The Brink, and Leaving Neverland) are attempts at the next The Jinx or the next Icarus instead of being their own thing. It’s almost like “Gotcha Journalism” is a profit model for some of these filmmakers. I’m sure something super personal, unflattering, and sincere in the vein of Free Solo or Minding the Gap will sweep us up and collectively take us all by storm before November. I just don’t want to wait that dang long.
PS(A): Stop showing me TED Talks in Documentaries! kthnx.
–Taylor Baker originally posted this review on Letterboxd 07/24/19