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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Collapse (review)

Hey, they laughed at Galileo! Yeah, but they laughed at Bozo the Clown, too! There’s a horrifying train wreck quality to documentarian Chris Smith’s (The Yes Men) feature-length interview with Michael Ruppert, former LAPD detective, investigative reporter, CIA whistleblower. Is Ruppert a conspiracy theorist? He laughs at the notion, says he works in “conspiracy fact”… and he’s chillingly plausible as he synthesizes, in 82 clipped minutes, a portrait of industrialized civilization on the brink of collapse. A collapse we’re already in the midst of, commencing with the September 2008 economic crash, which Ruppert had predicted years earlier based on the information he’d gathered. (This interview was conducted in March 2009.) It all comes down to the unsustainability of the Western way of life, which is predicated on cheap, ready oil and built on a pyramid scheme of a monetary system… and shoring up that way of life for a little while longer is behind the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Wall Street bailouts of 2008, and even right now, we can see, in Washington’s kowtowing to BP in the wake on the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill. If you read the alternative press, none of what Ruppert presents is new — the stew of corruption and corporatism on the part of our leaders and willful ignorance on the part of the public may be ugly, but it’s familiar — and except for all his intensity, he doesn’t sound crazy: he sounds prophetic as he describes how this is only the beginning of everything falling apart. But when he talks about how he’s convinced that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld took a personal interest in his self-published newsletter, From the Wilderness, tried to shut him down… When he fidgets and chain-smokes on camera… Well, it’s certainly possible that he could be both correct about everything and also a little mad. The DVD includes deleted scenes and an update from Ruppert on some of what the movie covers, which also includes news of his new venture, CollapseNet.

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watch at home

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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