Totally Under Control
Kathleen Sibelius, Francis Riedo, Scott Becker
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…in the second half of the film, as the U.S. death toll starts to mount exponentially and there’s a chronic but avoidable shortage of masks and respirators, the film becomes – rather ghoulishly, perhaps – more compelling.
The subject of this doco is the U.S. government’s handling of and response to the coronavirus crisis, particularly in the early months of this year. Its title comes from a typically self-aggrandising – and demonstrably false – statement by Donald Trump about it.
The filmmakers talk to a variety of experts, and prove conclusively that – in the succinct words of one interviewee – “politics got in the way of science”. In such an event-packed year, what happened in Wuhan in January somehow seems like eons ago, but of course its consequences are with the world more than ever.
Alex Gibney and co. contrast the feckless governmental response in their country to the highly efficient one in South Korea, while also highlighting the many (disregarded) warnings from experts about precedents going right back to the Spanish flu of 1918. There’s a great deal of information both about and from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and prevention), exposing the outrageous way in which the national Food and Drug Administration held them back.
Then, in the second half of the film, as the U.S. death toll starts to mount exponentially and there’s a chronic but avoidable shortage of masks and respirators, the film becomes – rather ghoulishly, perhaps – more compelling.
The timing of Totally Under Control’s release makes it either very pertinent or quite redundant, depending on both your perspective and the outcome of the American election. And the Trump administration’s ongoing chicanery is hardly a revelation, so that – plus the somewhat dry nature of medical and technical data – makes this less riveting than many of Alex Gibney’s other (and highly eclectic) documentaries. But it’s quite well put together, and – if proof were needed – damning.
TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL is available exclusively on Apple TV