Margaret Atwood Is the Talk of Two April Films

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

'Payback' probes the human consequences of debt and is a great companion film to 'Surviving Progress,' which explores the serious traps of new technologies. Both offer the insight of Margaret Atwood.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Two movies this month--"Payback" and "Surviving Progress"--offer great food for talk, thought and encounters with Canadian writer Margaret Atwood.

"Surviving Progress," opening April 6, is Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks' provocative documentary based on Ronald Wright's "A Short History Of Progress." Here Atwood appears along with Wright, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, David Suzuki and others to discuss how the human species falls prey to "progress traps." These are technologies and belief systems that serve immediate needs but put the future at risk. Replete with dramatic reenactments (herding wooly mammoths, for example) and clever graphics, the documentary entertains while making you think deeply about human nature.

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It would make an intense and perfect double bill with Jennifer Baichwal's "Payback," opening April 25. This is a masterful documentary based on Atwood's provocative eponymous treatise plumbing the effects of debt on human behavior. Beautifully shot and brilliantly edited, the film interweaves clips of Atwood reading from her book and commentaries from the likes of British author Karen Armstrong, International Crisis Group's Louise Arbour and social justice author Raj Patel. Stories include a reformed thief and drug addict who's guilt-ridden about victimizing an elderly woman, a farmer who takes a stand against the cruel exploitation of workers in Florida's tomato fields and Canadian media mogul Conrad Black's fraud conviction. Moviegoers owe Baichwal a debt of thanks for "Payback."

Another look at the mishandling of money comes from Pamela Glasner and Deborah Louise Robinson's documentary, "Last Will and Embezzlement," opening April 13. It follows the troubling case of Glasner's elderly parents, whose life savings were drained by a predatory man who befriended them. The film shows such crimes to be commonplace, indicating that perpetrators preying on elderly marks often cannot be brought to justice. Mickey Rooney, who suffered a similar crime, speaks out in this important, eye-opening documentary.

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