Chris Smiths one-man doc on veteran doomsayer Michael C. Ruppert holds less interest as another sky-is-falling dispatch than as the filmmakers return to warts-and-all portraiture after 2008s well-received fiction feature The Pool. Ten years ago, Smith's arthouse-circuit hit American Movie was taken as a mockumentary of an amateur horror auteur, but it was also an unexpectedly touching look at a decent-hearted striver. Ruppert, an ex-cop whose eyebags betray that he hasnt slept since a Carter-era dust-up with the CIA, is another subject with overshare vulnerability and a desperately headlong worldview. Ruppert's apocalyptic, oil-focused monologues, shot in bunker environs and edited to a rising pitch, take familiar Bush-era lefty positions on environmental and economic woes and add a chaser of survivalism. Smith lets Rupperts plainspoken autodidact skepticism get gradually shriller until his arguments dissolve into tears of grief and frustration. Theres an element of Errol Morris in the film, which implicitly psychologizes its subject and watches as he talks himself deeper and deeper into the hole. Smiths interest in the underdog also lends a reserved sense of sympathy: By faithfully documenting Rupperts long-simmering analysis, Smith lets us experience the feeling of a world gone to pot, whether or not the claims are factually accurate. That said, the hastily made film is inferior to American Movie (or his bleak American Job), and you would not want to be caught next to Ruppert on a transatlantic flight.
Mon., Feb. 1, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Tue., Feb. 2, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2010