The Emperor’s New Clothes (Dir. Michael Winterbottom/2015)
Russell Brand is an acquired taste. If you tease in conversation a memorable ‘Trews’ webisode, then either others will be excitedly, politically chatty – or you’ll be dismissed as watching flippant, disposable internet tosh. It’s a gamble in social-circles. Thankfully, the majority of his argument is concisely collected in Michael Winterbottom’s documentary The Emperor’s New Clothes, co-written by Russell himself. Tackling the consequences of the 2008 recession, and the vast inequality that dominates the western world, the issues are immediate and fiercely revolutionary. In Brand’s book, Revolution, much of this information has already been shared. Winterbottom erases the spiritual sentiment that often bogged down the fascinating information garnered from those against capitalism. Forced sequences, such as Michael-Moore-esque door-stopping, awkwardly detracts from key information – but his championing of solutions are what resonate. In a positive finale, specific changes are clear and succinct – and thankfully not clouded by Brands obtuse dictionary-broad vocabulary. Animations simplify how money is spent, and supports, within communities, while a relentless effort to highlight corrupt practices of TopShop, The Daily Mail and HSBC are reiterated. It’s too easy to forget them. Unfortunately, those who appreciate the polemic opinion of Brand have heard everything before. You’ll simply nod in agreement. But those unsure, can see this as a ‘Russell Brand for Dummies’. As a documentary, it clearly isn’t as powerful as Inside Job or Client 9, but colourful filters and an Underworld soundtrack make it accessible and digestible. And surely this is what’ll inspire others to dig deeper.