The Social Dilemma

Written by Taylor Baker

26/100

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.

Not recommended.

The Social Dilemma Trailer

A Thousand Cuts

Written by Taylor Baker

85/100

“And we have a bomb threat, so that’s a good sign.”

A Thousand Cuts as many have aptly pointed out feels unfinished, which is more a beauty mark than a blemish. It seems fitting that a documentary about the volatility, development, and set backs presented to a democracy feels unfinished. The Philippines though is a democracy that may feel foreign and unknown to many viewers, it certainly was for me. A Thousand Cuts focuses on the story of Maria Ressa, targeted by the Filipino government for her work, she is a journalist, founding partner of Rappler Media, and CEO of Rappler Media. That resume does not begin to do justice to the human Maria is shown to be by the end of the film. Equally stoic as she is fleetingly humorous, she has a well of knowledge and a vocabulary that can easily convey her intent.

There’s been quite the hoopla made recently about Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, not to be comparative but this is a far superior, succinct, and eloquent demonstration of it’s many points-with a backdrop that feels all to familiar. The landscape presented of politics in the Philippines hinges with a war on drugs, social media influencers performing Pussy Cat Dolls songs, and people looking up in exaltation to a murderer handing out T-Shirts from the back of truck for votes. It’s plain that whatever story Ramona Diaz was filming to begin with, nothing could have prepared her for how this ended up.

I won’t spoil the actual happenings of the documentary here as that would take away from the thrust of it and it’s message. Suffice to say it’s a story we could all benefit from witnessing. PBS FRONTLINE will make this Documentary available in January of 2021 here in the U.S.. In the meantime you can view it in virtual cinemas, such as the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival here. This is one of the most impressive pieces of documentary film I’ve seen all year.

Highly Recommended.

Taylor Baker originally posted this review on Letterboxd 10/13/20

A Thousand Cuts is part of the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival 2020 line up.

DEIFF Website: https://dxfest.com/