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The Last Mountain

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Bill Haney's documentary details the battle over West Virginia's Coal River Mountain, an area that industry titan Massey Energy has been blasting into smithereens for decades---much to the detriment of the surrounding communities and nonunionized citizenry. It's a region that's blessed with natural resources (the mountain's coal provides a third of the nation's electricity) and cursed by the results of continual industrial pillaging, ranging from a polluted atmosphere to a 2.8-billion-gallon toxic sludge pool precariously perched above an elementary school. Welcome to a case study of corporate villainy, albeit one admittedly smitten with incriminating suggestions (like the accusation that mining has spawned a brain tumor epidemic) backed by little empirical proof.

A familiar if nonetheless enraging slab of agitprop, Haney's film isn't merely a denunciation of the Appalachians' destruction; with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as its spokesman, The Last Mountain is also a critique of the more pervasive, insidious collusion among big business, government and regulatory agencies, all of which benefit from the nonenforcement of environmental legislation. The director's righteous anger is less restrained than his conventional vrit aesthetics and less off-putting than his one-sided approach to the issues at hand---an advocacy for alternative wind-turbine energy is suspiciously sketchy---yet he smartly allows coal-exploiting bigwigs plenty of screen time to properly hang themselves.

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Written by Nick Schager
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