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Saturday, May 31, 2014


Michael Glawogger’s nail-biting, heartrending, stomach-churning world tour of unrewarding, spiritually grinding, physically demanding work is MANUAL LABOR: EXTREME EDITION. But it’ll never make it as a reality series, it’s much too real. We go from supine coal extraction, in illegally reopened Ukrainian mines, to noxious sulfur gathering and a perilous mountain descent with the heavy load in Indonesia. Off to Nigeria, where it’s best to squint thru an open-air abattoir, an all in one-slaughterhouse/carcass processing carnival of carrion and move on to Pakistan where old oil freighters go to die and get blow torched into pieces for scrap. Finally, a brief stop at a Chinese iron works where the workers show a remarkably sophisticated grasp of the economics that will soon overtake their thriving factory just like the closed German plant, we see brightly lit as a historic industrial artifact for bored teens on an educational outing. Depressing as social document: what is the future for all this outmoded laboring?, but thrilling as film. It all but demands viewing.

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