Robert Reich must be appalled. Reich, an economist who’s served in the administrations of three presidents and an outspoken critic of the roles of governments and corporations in furthering economic inequality, is also one of the more prominent speakers in vitamin salesman and natural-medicine guru Gary Null’s movie Poverty Inc., which covers much of the same ground as Reich’s own 2013 documentary, Inequality for All.
Null’s movie — not to be confused with another 2014 release of the same title from Michael Matheson Miller that is a critique of global charity programs — utterly fails to inform or guide. Every speaker seems to traffic in exclamation points, pretty much the only points that are made. The movie is a nightmare of attention deficit and hyperactivity.
Worse, it’s devoid of backup and evidence, like its flimsy argument for a return to the gold standard, one of many notions raised and abandoned. Prominent experts, Reich among them, oddly keep company with the likes of Suzanne Joshua, owner of the West Village thrift store Rags-A-Gogo.
Joshua in particular brings to mind a scene in Bob Rafelson’s drama Five Easy Pieces, where a neurotic hitchhiker played by Helena Kallianiotes blames everything wrong with America on “crap and more crap” and says “filth is bad, it’s what causes maggots and riots.” Yet that beautiful bit of nonsense makes loads more sense than Null ever does in this haphazard film.