Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock may be responsible for making documentaries more popular, profitable and mainstream-accessible, but from an artistic point of view, their influence has been far less enriching. The rise in cutesy graphics, the preference for superficial contentions conveyed by cursory human-interest vignettes, and the employment of spurious causation arguments have become the norm in domestic non-fiction filmmaking, with only the rare exception -- anything by Werner Herzog, Tony Kaye's in-depth Lake of Fire -- to remind viewers that serious, comprehensive explorations of real-world stories and topics are still viable. Alas, the latest politically conscious doc to hit stateside, Irena Salina's Flow: For Love of Water, is another example of the -Moore-ish technique, not because it mimics his aesthetic -- her approach and tone are of a sober, graphics-free sort -- but because it tackles an important topic in a dubious manner. Jumping back and forth between various issues, facts and local news stories as if in search of a coherent thesis, the director offers up a call-to-arms against bottled water conglomerates that, in its structural sloppiness, feels like a high school student's tossed-off research paper.
categories Cinematical