A pop doc that gained a bit of notoriety at TIFF this year, Cool It evolves around the work of Dutch political scientist Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, a work that gained quite a bit of notoriety itself for essentially arguing against the whole issue of global warming and approaching the entire subject with a great amount of, well, skepticism with a particularly "wrath of God" approach taken to Al Gore's doomsday enviro-flick An Inconvenient Truth.
Docs centered around one person can, let's face it, be quite dreadful when that person isn't particularly photogenic, well spoken or, adversely, they're so incredibly self-involved that spending time with them becomes an exercise in self-injurious behavior.
Yes, I'm thinking of Al Gore.
Cool It isn't plagued by a lack of personality, Lomborg comes off quite delightful on screen and projects a rather easygoing persona that makes him infinitely watchable, even if director Ondi Timoner (Dig!) does try a bit too hard to portray him as a kind-hearted do-gooder.
Cool It is a wildly uneven film, too lengthy even at a modest 87-minutes and it starts off so weakly that you'll likely find yourself checking out your watch by the 15-minute mark or longing for Al Gore. Timoner does a weak job of building up Lomborg's credibility, and those unfamiliar with his literary background will likely remain unconvinced that he even possesses a valid opinion given the film's often lighter tone.
Yet, Cool It begins to build momentum around the 30-minute mark, where Lomborg basically goes about ripping apart Al Gore's claims in An Inconvenient Truth one-by-one with ever increasing fervor and quite a bit of information that is well documented, well presented and incredibly thought provoking.
It should be noted that Lomborg himself has sort of shifted his position on the subject of global warming, no longer completely disregarding the issue but claiming that Gore's "scare the pants off 'em" approach is incredibly inappropriate and inaccurate. Lomborg believes that global warming is a legitimate issue, and his theories and ideas about what to do are an intriguing addition to the wealth of opinions and resource materials on the subject matter.
Unfortunately, Cool It begins to lose momentum again as the film winds down and relaxes into a talking head approach to explaining Lomborg's solutions to the problems for the film's final 30 minutes.
Tech credits for Cool It are surprisingly low-key, with camera work simple and straightforward and editing being dramatically under-utilized. The film uses a variety of interviews, graphic illustrations and offers a significant focus on a Yale lecture Lomborg offers some nice intellectual framing for the film, however, despite the film's claim of a balanced approach Timoner's lack of objectivity in framing the material decreases Lomborg's credibility and claims.
Lomborg should emerge from Cool It as a more visible voice on environmental issues, though it's difficult to discern if the film will actually help him gain increased credibility or move beyond his generally regarded status as pop icon wannabe. Truth be told, however, Lomborg presents himself well and his intriguing material deserves a forum for further discussion.
Cool It begins its limited arthouse run with distrib Roadside Attractions on November 12, followed by what will likely be a much longer life in ancillary markets.