With the Gulf of Mexico oil spill still in the headlines, I thought it fitting this week to watch some documentaries about that troublesome black liquid known as petroleum. I'm sure that one day we'll get a film or three specifically about BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster, and I'm also looking forward to the HBO premiere of the relevant, critically acclaimed Sundance-winner GasLand on June 21 (our own Jette enjoyed the film at the Marfa Film Festival), but for now let me share some thoughts on two very different yet similarly titled docs involving oil, Basil Gepke and Ray McCormack's A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash and Joe Berlinger's Crude.

I'll start with the former, which was released earlier (in 2006) and which is by far the weaker of the two. Honestly, I'm not sure how the film garnered so many positive reviews, as well as awards from multiple film festivals and a high ranking from a lot of voters on IMDb, when it's basically the cinematic equivalent of a high school research paper -- and not one that would receive top marks. The thesis, that we're heading toward a shortage and ultimately will see a depletion of the resource, is obvious. So is the evidence, which goes through the motions of discussing population increase, particularly as it matters with greater-consuming countries like China and India, and especially the issue of human dependence on oil for a lot more than just fuel. The well-known solutions are also tossed around. Hey, have you heard about this thing called solar energy? If not, this film is for you, the guys who've been living in a cave for thirty years.
categories Columns, Cinematical