Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar


Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar
Directed by Thom Hoffman
Opens August 17, Quad Cinema
A well-meaning amateur doc apparently shot with a camcorder and assembled on an old Mac with Final Cut Express, Hoffman’s home-movie-ish diatribe ostensibly tackles the current recession by comparing and contrasting it to the Great Depression. That and every idea trotted onto Hoffman’s desktop is old hat, including the handful of first-person oral histories (from Hoffman’s boss and Long Island advertising mini-magnate Ray Adell, the late and venerable LI art house programmer Vic Skolnick, a few New York academics, etc.), ladles of manhandled stock footage, a numb interview with two inarticulate undergrads, etc. At first, Hoffman appears to be juxtaposing the savoir faire and genuine deprivation of the Depression society with the spoiled, consumption-crazed world we have now, but then he merely lapses into a vague Occupy-ish indictment of the 1 percent and the collapse of community as a cultural foundation. (He does this mostly through hand-wringing narration, in which the 1990s is considered, oddly, an "Andy Warholian chasm.") It’s hard to imagine who exactly Hoffman is targeting here; only a remedial middle school class might find something in the mishmash they haven’t heard a bajillion times before. Michael Atkinson
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