Merchants of DoubtHD Closed Captioning
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About the Movie
Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt takes audiences on a satirically comedic yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 81
- Fresh: 69
- Rotten: 12
- Average Rating: 7.0/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Informative and infuriating ...
Fresh: When (and before) the end credits roll, you will probably feel a sense of outrage - and helplessness.
Fresh: Subtle, it's not. But it is effective.
Rotten: In this glossy informational mode of filmmaking, organization is everything, and director Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) isn't much of a storyteller.
Insightful and Disturbing
A fascinating take on how a group of outrage industry spinmeisters influence the global conversations on behalf of the corporations, the 1% and oligarchs. Sowing doubt reaps them great rewards at the expense of the rest of us.
Another example that those who are motivated to steer the uninformed to a desired opinion, often using easy answers or baseless fears, are much more successful than are efforts to inform about complicated topics (e.g., science, technology, medicine, money, politics).
This happens on both the left and right. This story is about efforts from the right, and it provides a view into our society that is every bit as scary and disappointing as you might expect.
Familiar information in dull film
This film is about the misinformation tactics of harmful industries, but It’s the same story over and over. It began with lead paint companies, though the film makes it seem like the cigarette companies invented it.
There are certainly many folks unaware of this industry of denial, who buy into it and think there’s some “debate” about climate change for example. Of course it would be great for them all to read the book this film is based on, but few people read books anymore and that would be akin to a creationist picking up Darwin’s Origin of Species. So hopefully they’ll see this film instead. Whether it would change their mind I can’t say.
That being said, the film itself is not very compelling storytelling. It has high glossy production values and graphics, but it’s really just eye candy covering a lack of a real forward-moving story. It’s a very typical essay film - talking heads and b-roll/archival footage, perhaps some recreations.
Those techniques can be sufficient if the STORY being told is engaging and dynamic, but here it’s pretty dry and repetitive. So many documentaries these days are doing great things and competing with Hollywood fiction films in their creativity and formal inventiveness.
But then there are docs like this - which are formally pedestrian and informational but adopt the slick look / credit sequences / glossy graphics of big budget films.
The information is important, it’s just a shame it wasn’t treated in a more creative way.