e street film society

IN THEATERS (SF) – “Generation Wealth”

Generation Wealth (2018; Dir.: Lauren Greenfield)

GRADE: C+

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 27, at the Landmark Clay in San Francisco, the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley and the Regency Cinemas 6 in San Rafael.

The Queen of Versailles director and long-time documenter of conspicuous consumption Greenfield creates her own Cameraperson with this loosely knit memoir/highlight reel.  This scattershot film follows Greenfield as she puts together a career-spanning retrospective covering her many professional obsessions, including obscene wealth, oversexualized children, toxic body images and self-made celebrities.  Besides attempting to shape the disjointed projects of her photography and filmmaking career into a semi-coherent commentary on Who We Are Now, Greenfield also offers autobiographical insight into the people and personal insecurities that shaped her own worldview.  The degree of difficulty here is off the charts, and the wildly uneven results only make the achievement of Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson all the more impressive.  Greenfield’s thematic leaps from teens with eating disorders to sex-tape celebrities to Icelandic stockbrokers often come off as exploitative yet judgmental, and the scenes focusing on her family feel disconnected and slightly egomaniacal.  Despite some strong passages, Generation Wealth lurches around like crazy, with an ending that concludes: 1) the empire has crumbled, the planet is doomed, the apocalypse is nigh; and 2) the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.