By Owen Gleiberman
November 06, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST



You’d be hard-pressed to find a movie that channels the anxieties of our time with the power and terror of the documentary Collapse. For 82 riveting minutes, Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles cop who became a rogue investigative reporter and author, sits in what looks like a brick bunker and talks about where he thinks the United States is now headed. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is not a naive one either. The grippingly articulate Ruppert is like Noam Chomsky as a wry pundit of doom.

In 2006, he predicted the current economic crisis, and his startlingly detailed foresight seizes your attention. So you’d better believe that you’re sitting up and listening when he starts to talk about ”peak oil” — i.e., the likelihood that most of the planet’s oil reserves have already been eaten up. According to Ruppert, the ”economic crisis” is more than a bad patch; it’s the finally visible symptom of a greater underlying instability. And what’s coming? A society, he says, that will have to reimagine how it lives if it wants to survive. Collapse was directed by Chris Smith (The Yes Men), who interviewed Ruppert for 14 hours and does a superb job of editing his words into a dramatic cautionary monologue. You may want to dispute Ruppert, but more than that you’ll want to hear him, because what he says — right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia — takes up residence in your mind. A-

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