If you want to plunk down your hard-earned dough to hear an unfocused anticapitalist thesis on why poor people are poor, that’s certainly your right. This week’s Important Documentary, as stuffy as it is alarming, is primed to exacerbate your liberal guilt the next time you think of the thousands dying of starvation while you’re shuffling through your iPod. But even with Martin Sheen’s avuncular narration and an ambitious overview that begins with the Spanish-Portuguese conquest of the Americas in 1492, Diaz’s bloated expos offers no practical advice to overturn the damage wrought by colonialism, slavery and worse. Oh, we need to stop privatization? We’ll get on that, right after we’re done watching Mad Men.
Filming in African slums and Latin American barrios, The End of Poverty? has us stare into the faces of the suffering while listening to their tales of woe. It’s heartbreaking, of course, but also crassly manipulative and blandly shot, too. More than two dozen talking-head subjects (academics, financial execs, economists) give their two cents, if you can afford the pun, but the rest is a mess of onscreen factoids and disturbing statistics. All that might prompt a healthy classroom discussion, but it can’t be called cinematic.—Aaron Hillis
Opens Fri; Village East. Find showtimes
Watch the trailer