More Reviews – Big Men

“‘Big Men’ provides a compelling account of the murky waters of corporate engagement with the state in Africa. Looking specifically at the case of Ghana and Nigeria, this documentary provides veritable insight into how corporate greed, state insensitivity to the needs of the people continue to define relationships within extractive enclaves of Africa. As the documentary shows, oil and the politics of it would continue to shape relationships in spaces of extraction such as Nigeria and Ghana for a long time to come.” Omolade Adunbi PhD, Assistant Professor in Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Faculty Associate in Program in the Environment, University of Michigan

“There aren’t many people who can see what New York financiers, Nigerian rebels, Texas oilmen, and Ghanaian politicians have in common, and few film-makers could weave a story to make the connections for the rest of us. Rachel Boynton does just that in “Big Men” — a visually arresting and intellectually probing investigation.” Professor J.S. Maloy, Kaliste Saloom Endowed Chair in Political Science, University of Louisiana Lafayette

“No single resource is more essential to modern life than oil, and no film offers a more incisive look at how the enormous wealth oil creates subverts the morality of individuals, corporations, even entire countries than Rachel Boynton’s compelling documentary ‘Big Men’.” Kenneth Turan, L.A. Times

“Dropping us into a perfect storm of avarice, this cool and incisive snapshot of global capitalism at work is as remarkable for its access as for its refusal to judge.” CRITIC’S PICK, Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

“If you want to know how the world works, as opposed to how we are told it works – or how we wish it might work – you need to see ‘Big Men,’ a remarkable new investigative documentary about oil, money, Africa and America that comes with Brad Pitt’s name attached as executive producer but was directed by Rachel Boynton.” Andrew O’Hehir,

“This moral-economic drama plays out in backroom deals that Boynton records in all their stunning and at times shameless candor.” Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“In ‘There Will Be Blood’, Daniel Plainview uses vivid imagery to explain his plundering of an oil rival’s resources: ‘I drink your milkshake.’ In the complex, compelling new documentary ‘Big Men’ the combatants can scarcely maneuver their straws without stabbing each other in the eye.” Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

“There are three categories of schemers in ‘Big Men,’ Rachel Boynton’s illuminating documentary about the oil business in West Africa: businessmen, politicians and bandits. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to tell the types apart.” Mark Jenkins, NPR

“Here’s the rare current-affairs documentary that doesn’t just show us something gone wrong in some part of our world. Rachel Boynton’s first-rate ‘Big Men’ instead peels the skin off the world itself, revealing the gears as they grind away, casting familiar doc scenarios in shades of illuminating gray: The heroes and villains in global business aren’t always easy to suss out, but it’s never hard to spot the victims.”
Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“Boynton’s most impressive feat in ‘Big Men’ is how she takes an impossibly convoluted scenario, makes sense of it and tells a story that’s riveting on its own but also serves as a parable about greed and human nature.”
Stephanie Merry, The Washington Post

“A kind of true-life, slow-motion disaster flick for the NPR set, director Rachel Boynton’s ‘Big Men’ is an engaging documentary that roots down into the very human and relatable effects of the discovery of a huge African oil deposit upon a disparate variety of characters, from the penthouse to the pavement.”  Brent Simon,

“Rachel Boynton directs this hard-hitting documentary about oil, money, globalism, international finance, corruption, and greed.” Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice

“Boynton pulls the thread and unravels a tale that gives fair balance to all sides of the equation, while asking a much bigger question about whether or not true human nature is guided by self-preservation (read: greed) or if people can truly act in the greater good. And the answers are surprising.” Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“What sets ‘Big Men’ apart and makes it engrossing is the extraordinary degree of access Boynton had to the major parties and the deftness with which she uses it.” Frank Swietek, One Guy’s Opinion

“Larger questions lift this doc above being a simple lecture on how greed is bad and big oil is evil, making it into something with more heft.” Hank Sartin,

“[‘Big Men’ is shaped with] a consistently keen sense of art, boosted by Jonathan Furmanski’s skilled cinematography.”
Chris Barsanti, PopMatters

“Drilling far deeper than standard issue docs, the ‘Big Men’ director’s rich, thrilling movies investigate people and their power plays. There’s real, volatile life here…” Robert Greene, BFI

“Like a number of recent hot-button docus, from ‘Crude’ to ‘Inside Job,’ Rachel Boynton’s extraordinary ‘Big Men’ should come tagged with a warning: The side effects of global capitalism may include dizziness, nausea and seething outrage. Using razor-sharp journalistic skill to untangle the knotty saga of an American petroleum company’s entrance into the West African republic of Ghana, Boynton’s film also poses a series of troubling philosophical questions: Is unchecked greed an intrinsic part of the human character? Is ‘the greater good’ ever more than a convenient euphemism where big business and big government are concerned? Wide fest exposure and ancillary sales seem assured for this Tribeca world premiere, which also richly deserves a theatrical pickup.” Scott Foundas, Variety

“No single resource is more essential to modern life than oil, and no film offers a more incisive look at how the enormous wealth oil creates subverts the morality of individuals, corporations, even entire countries than Rachel Boynton’s compelling documentary ‘Big Men.’” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Rachel Boyton makes complex, character-based films about huge issues over multiple continents with several moving points of contact. ‘Big Men’ is a multi-faceted nonfiction thriller about oil, geo-political intrigue and personal rises and falls that synthesises its immense ideas into a taut narrative. It is a feat of spectacular filmmaking which always foregrounds meaningful observations over grand gestures.” Best of 2013 Nonfiction List, Sight and Sound Magazine

“‘Big Men’ follows the Texas-based Kosmos Energy as it searches for oil off the West African coast and then, soon after their discovery, as they renegotiate with a new government in Accra. The film also delves into the entrenched corruption and violence in the Niger Delta, providing a stark backdrop to the growing worries about what might happen in Ghana. [The big strengths] in this film include incredible access to key players, including inside Kosmos, the Government of Ghana, and the swamps of the Delta; the complexities of the issues facing countries and investors are thoughtfully handled with care and subtlety; [and] the tension of a real-life thriller.” Todd  Moss, Center for Global Development

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