“Totally Under Control” is a persuasive and timely political documentary about
soon to be ex-President Donald Trump’s mishandling of the Covid 19 crisis. The
United States leaders’ actions look particularly bad when compared to the quick,
decisive and efficient actions taken by the South Korean leaders, which is why
their numbers are so much better.
The film was directed, produced, and written by Alex Gibney (Philip Alexander
Gibney is his full name outside of movies) who specializes in making topical and
socially conscious documentaries. Some of his other works include "We Steal
Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" and "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of
Belief". But his most well-known films are probably "Client 9", "Enron: The
Smartest Guys in the Room", and "Taxi to the Dark Side" all of which won awards
for best documentary .
The cinematographer, Ben Bloodwell and his helpers, made up kits so that some of
the interviewed subjects could record themselves and mail in the interviews
because Covid 19 made the film making much more difficult.
According the film, Donald Trump was more responsible for chaos and destruction
that ensued than the actual illness because he utterly failed to act when it was
necessary (among the many reasons I believe he lost the election). One of the
whistle blowers, vaccine chief, Rick Bright said, “it is not easy to come
forward in this administration,” and he claimed as soon as Trump is criticized
by someone in his administration about the virus, he instantly retaliates.
The films shows how unlike in fictional pandemic films like “Outbreak,” and
“Contagion” that lionized experts, Trump’s version of the Covid narrative
depicted the scientists (especially Fauci) as villains, and he encouraged the
public to doubt them and go against their practical and not all unreasonable
Most damningly, the film incorporates recent info from Bob Woodward’s new book
which shows how Trump knew very early how serious and potentially destructive
the virus could be, but he felt it was more important to preserve his popularity
and the economy at the expense of human lives.
The film also shows how the president encouraged people to have faith in quick
fix snake oil remedies like hydroxychloroquine (promoted by Vladimir Zelkeko who
is spotlighted in the film and shown to be a charlatan) instead of taking
concrete steps like social distancing and wearing masks.
Of course, with the virus climbing to a new peak almost daily, we still don’t
know how this scenario will end. But this film is a decent up to date report on
the state of the world and the virus as it is today. Maybe the film can be
updated once it all ends, or possibly a sequel.
Anyone who has been following the news and follows the non alt right media
probably knows a lot of the info in this film already, but Alec Gibney has done
everyone a public service by putting all the info together in such an accessible
and watchable format.