Egotism and incompetence

CORONOAVIRUS: After 200,000 deaths and staggering economic losses, Alex Gibney & co. look into the Trump administration's disastrous response to COVID-19.

Totally Under Control, its title a tongue in cheek reference to President Trump’s repeated declarations regarding his administration’s clear-as-day chaotic response to our cataclysmic health crisis, is (one of) the latest from the US’s most ADD prolific documentarian, Alex Gibney. It’s a film the Oscar and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker – along with his co-directors/producers/conspirators Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger – made in secret in a mad dash of five months, in a race to get it in the can and out to the American public prior to the November presidential election. Whether it will change any voter’s mind – let alone get in front of the eyes of any Fox News cult follower – is dubious. What it will do, and has done already, is allow the left-leaning liberal viewership (and I count myself in that camp) to feel equal parts enraged and vindicated. It’s a primal scream catharsis. Yes, the f*ckup was as bad as we feared. And much much worse.

Perhaps more importantly, Totally Under Control is also a record for history, a real-time lesson for future generations in easily digestible cinematic form. Gibney is at his most comfortable in the role of anti-corruption activist, exposing shenanigans within corporations (starting with his first Academy Award-nominated doc, 2005’s Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and continuing right through to 2019’s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley); religion (the Emmy Award-winning Going Clear: Scientology and th …


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Lauren Wissot
A US-based film critic and journalist, filmmaker and programmer.

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