Reviews

What the critics are saying about Crude:

“Thorough and impassioned… intelligently and artfully made.”
- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A fascinating case study of real world political action.”
- Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

“Rarely have such conflicts been examined with the depth and power of Joe Berlinger’s documentary Crude. These real characters and events play out on the screen like a sprawling legal thriller.”
- Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“A forceful, often infuriating story about Big Oil and little people.”
- Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Transcendent! The film devastates the audience… Berlinger repeatedly turns his camera on images that shake us to our core… And as the film rolls forward, it generates an overwhelming amount of suspense… Berlinger continues to assert himself as the master of his craft.”
- All Movie Guide

“Top 10 Best Documentaries of 2009.”
- About.com

“Complex!…Crude is a head-on culture clash bursting with strong personalities.”
- Esme McAvoy, The Independent

“A remarkable documentary…Gripping…Intrinsically cinematic…The most urgent film I’ve seen at Sundance this year.”
- Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

“A powerhouse of a documentary! This one means to shake you. And in Berlinger’s hands, it does.”
-Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“I would have sworn that The Cove had the Oscar sewn up for best documentary this year. But Joe Berlinger’s Crude, which opens next Wednesday (9.9.09), will be in the thick of the Oscar fight.”
-Marshall Fine, The Huffington Post

“An amazing, sobering, heartbreaking film. Beautifully shot, it captures the magic of the Amazon, and the horrors inflicted upon it … and also the beauty of the Ecuadorian people.”
- Howard Zinn, Author, A People’s History of the United States

“**** (four stars)!”
- Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Excellent!  Before seeing the late fall blockbusters, spare some time for…Crude.”
-Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

“A piece of magic … Crude is absolutely the most powerful, emotion-provoking, heart-wrenching, best documentary I have ever seen.”
- John Perkins, Author, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Crude should be on the short list for Academy Award consideration now that the word is spreading.”
- Roger Friedman, The Hollywood Reporter

“A gripping account of corporate malfeasance, striking a good balance between ecological elegy and real-life legal thriller.”
- Time Out London

“**** (four stars)!) Heartbreaking…ferociously exposes corporate inhumanity.”
- Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News

“Had Michael Moore wanted to make a serious movie about capitalism, he would have made “Crude.” Joe Berlinger’s scorched-earth documentary and David-and-Goliath drama offers more than a few eco-outraged observations on the not-so-free enterprise system: As the film very eloquently implies, when the greater good is defined as profits, and a lack of culpability is proportionate to your number of shareholders, well . . . a lot of petroleum-soaked chickens will be coming home to roost.”
-John Anderson, The Washington Post

“Fascinating…sweeping…riveting!”
- Mother Jones

“Superbly directed, powerfully emotional documentary that grips like an expert legal thriller — uplifting, suspenseful and utterly devastating, this is likely to be one of the best documentaries of the year.”
-Matthew Turner, View London

“Rousing! A classic David vs. Goliath face off… The anger onscreen spreads as slowly and inexorably as toxic sludge.”
-Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“Tears tell no lies in the veteran filmmaker’s Crude, a Herculean work of investigative journalism that lays out the decades-long indignities suffered by an indigenous group living—or, rather, dying—in an area of Ecuador’s Amazon region ravaged by oil drilling.”
- Ed Gonzalez, Village Voice

“An international legal thriller that will quietly blow your mind.”
-David Schmader, The Stranger

“A cool-headed indictment.”
-Anthony Quinn, The Independent

“Artful…heartbreaking…Crude unfolds like a courtroom thriller.”
-Kevin Maher, The London Times

“A festival favorite around the globe…Crude has all the elements of a good drama and thriller.”
-Angelique Flores, Home Media Magazine

“An engrossing case for justice. Colorful personalities on both sides, incriminating news/archival footage, slick assembly and Berlinger’s narrative smarts make this unusually involving…”
- Dennis Harvey, Variety

“If you like stories with real-life good guys and bad guys, then Crude is for you… Berlinger’s reputation as a skilled filmmaker-journalist and the topical subject matter make Crude must-viewing for those who care about the planet. It wouldn’t be surprising if the film has an impact on the legal wrangling in the courts, let alone popular knowledge and opinion.”
-Eric Monder, The Hollywood Reporter

“**** (four stars)! Joe Berlinger is one of our most skilled documentary filmmakers… and Crude requires his level of craftsmanship.An amazing cautionary tale combining idealism and hopelessness.”
- Filmcritic.com

“****! Gripping… A bracing and intelligent look at how such battles are (and perhaps must be) fought in a world that’s hardly lacking when it comes to tales of injustice… Crude ventures far beyond the parameters of the average enviro-doc.”
- Toronto Star

“Expertly crafted…Crude plays like a legal thriller, as entertaining as any, but wiser about justice than most.”
-  Kenton Smith, Uptown Magazine

“***1/2! Powerful and powerfully upsetting.”
- Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

“**** (four stars!) With this gripping film, Berlinger has put himself back on the side of the angels.”
- Tom Huddleston, Time Out London

“On paper, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake Crude for a John Grisham story. It’s got all the hallmarks  –  sharp lawyers,  raw greed,  Big Business behaving badly. The difference is that this David-vs.-Goliath story is no work of fiction. Part eco-doc,  part legal-doc,  it is a troubling,  real story  –  and a well-told one at that  –  that is inspiring and infuriating all at once.”
- Mike Scott, New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Engrossing…Berlinger’s techniques give Crude the quality of a thriller, with all the investigative prowess of traditional journalism.”
- Jason Blair, Eugene Weekly

“**** (four stars!) while the current trend in documentaries is to take stories and wrap them into neat little packages, Crude runs merrily against the grain…like the best of Berlinger’s movies, it’s a film with no easy answers.”
- David Edwards, The Daily Mirror

“Both legal thriller and heartbreaking human rights drama.”
- Utne Reader

“‘Crude‘ is a knock-your-socks-off documentary that will leave you speechless. It’s the best documentary of the year.”
- Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com

“Eco-docs are bummers almost by definition, but here Berlingerʼs superb explanatory skills compensate for any tax on the viewerʼs conscience; what might have been a rote exercise in green sentimentality becomes a gripping, multifaceted thriller about media politics, global economics, and legal infighting.”
- The Chicago Reader

“A rage-making account of corporate colonialism.”
- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

“The lefty doc of the fall is Crude.  Joe Berlinger: Still the man.”
-Dan Fierman, GQ

“Equal parts courtroom thriller and political outrage… Excellent.”
-Joe Tropea, Baltimore City Paper

“Riveting… Berlinger clearly knows about balance in covering an important issue.”
- James Nelson, Agence France Presse

“**** (four stars)!  A fascinating documentary…well-balanced…all the more incisive for its decision to eschew editorializing and let the evidence speak for itself.”
- Allan Hunter, The Daily Express

“Sophisticated… a compelling, multifaceted cinematic surrogate trial… Berlinger once again shows his skill for even-handed humanist storytelling.”
- Simon Abrams, The L Magazine

“****1/2 (four and a half stars)! A well-balanced and thought-provoking documentary that doesn’t forget that the cinemagoing experience needs to entertain as well as educate.”
- Amber Wilkinson, Eyeforfilm.com

“Remarkable! A stranger-than-fiction, serpentine narrative… Superb.”
- Scott Foundas, The Village Voice

“Absorbing…provocative yet conscientiously well balanced.”
- The Metro

“Gripping…important.”

-ContactMusic

“Intense…CRUDE tells a hugely important story that’s packed with compelling characters.”

-CineSnob

“Sundance’s nonfiction offerings are richer, truer, and more provocative than the narrative features, and a strong 2009 slate of environmentally minded documentaries like Crude… I hope this movie finds a home, and in theaters.”
- Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“Compelling, complex, intimate…A must-see.”
- Jennie Punter, Toronto Globe and Mail

“A remarkable immersion into the worlds of human rights advocacy, multi-national corporate economics, the geo-political situation in Latin America, celebrity activism and the villages of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Fascinating, compelling and at times infuriating, Crude is a superb film.”
- Peter Metcalf, New West Missoula

“An elegantly structured, horrifying film.”
- Chris Hewitt, Pioneer Press

“**** (four stars)… Captivating!”
- L. Kent Wolgamott, Lincoln Journal Star

“An absorbing nonfiction legal thriller.”
-John Hartl, The Seattle Times

“Enthralling… Although he follows events from the perspective of the Ecuadorians, Berlinger maintains a refreshing and clear-sighted intellectual honesty: Chevron’s representatives are allowed plenty of space to make their arguments.”
- The Lancet

“Very well done and did a great job of presenting a twisted and complicated story in an even-handed manner. I’m very glad to have seen it.”
- Jon Witmer, American Cinematographer

“Quietly compelling… A documentary that follows through on the promise of 1992’s Brother’s Keeper.”
- Bret Michel, The Boston Phoenix

“A modern-day look at the heart of darkness.”
- Film Independent

Crude is an important, heart-wrenching, alarming and brilliantly crafted cinema verite documentary.”
-Jennifer Merin, About.com

“A classic David vs. Goliath story that you’d swear it was written by a well-meaning liberal screenwriter… It’s a splendid story complete with murder, corruption and political intervention from the highest level.”
- Dan Fienberg, Hitfix.com

“Compelling…Crude’s moving testimony and careful documentation make it hard to turn away.”
-Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle

“Environmental documentaries in the last decade have had the predictability of an evangelical sermon or a going-out-of-business sale: The end is nigh, but act now and the bounty can still be yours. Crude is something else. A legal thriller, it’s a three-year investigation into the disaster environmentalists call the “Amazonian Chernobyl” that offers both sides of the story and leaves the viewer in the position of jury. What makes Crude worthy of the overused term “epic” is the way the case symbolizes a host of contemporary issues: the iron-fistedness of multinational corporations; environmental despoliation; the disappearance of indigenous cultures; and the power of celebrity and the media to influence justice.”
- Liam Lacey, Toronto Globe and Mail

Crude has an edge-of-your-seat quality that’s more thriller than documentary, and Berlinger manages to convey the life or death urgency of the Ecuadorean situation. This is, in many ways, a shocking film, and Berlinger’s ability to connect the global dots is impressive.”
- Liz Braun, Jam! Movies

“Think of Joe Berlinger’s “Crude” not as a documentary… Think of this film instead as something from the pen of John Grisham, with themes like Whites brutalize an oppressed minority (”A Time to Kill”), “Characters enjoy their newfound wealth” (”The Firm”), oil tycoon drills in a Louisiana swamp endangering life (”The Pelican Brief”), A huge corporation defends itself against a plaintiff who develops lung cancer (”The Runaway Jury”). “Crude” is as riveting and entertaining as anything found in Grisham, and what’s more the events portrayed… really took place in an area that few Americans are familiar with.”
- Harvey Karten, The Arizona Reporter

“Remarkably clear-eyed… In keeping with Berlinger’s excellent documentaries Brother’s Keeper and Paradise Lost, Crude is as concerned with the culture surrounding a legal action as it is in making a case.”
- Noel Murray, AVClub.com

Crude captures the pitfalls of corporate greed.  The film is a shocking revelation of the extent to which legal procedural tactics can determine the outcome of entire ecosystems and communities.”
- Deji Olukotun, PEN American Center

Crude gives a kaleidoscopic view of the problem and the legal machinations involved in bringing the case to a conclusion.”
-Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star

“A polished and haunting work of humanistic journalism, the film is passionate enough to follow its subjects in the ground-level combat of street demonstrations and office showdowns, and astute enough to understand the important roles a Vanity Fair article or a Trudie Styler endorsement can play in a cause. Crude is both a tribute to human-rights tenacity and a sobering account of the multinational-Moloch greed that can keep justice in limbo.”
- Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine

Crude sometimes seems like improbably fiction, a story co-authored by Charles Dickens and Che Guevara.”
-Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

“Sensational and controversial. Eye Opening. So well-made it shouldn’t have any trouble getting distribution.”
- Roger Friedman, Foxnews.com

“This is a compelling story, well told by Berlinger.”
- Steve Apkon / LoHud.com

“Epic.”
- MSN Green