In Michael Winterbottom and Russell Brand’s documentary, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the Hans Christian Andersen classic becomes an allegory for economic injustice: It proposes that the weavers from the bedtime story are analogous to today’s bankers, bond dealers, traders and hedge-fund managers.
Touching on income inequality, trillion-dollar bailouts, billion-dollar bonuses, insider trading, privatization of public housing and social services, quantitative easing, student debt, outsourcing, et al., the film lays out its case against free-market fundamentalism with facts, common sense, humor, heart and adorable primary school kids instead of tiresome rhetoric. Advocacy documentaries simply don’t get better or more compelling than this.
Even if you never understood what Katy Perry saw in him, Brand makes his appeal abundantly clear here. He’s witty, articulate, informed, passionate and charming; his earlier films haven’t done him justice. When he has the humility to own the fact that he’s in the very 1% he’s revolting against, who’s to argue?
“The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD.