Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Summary: Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores" -- or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz's initial objective was to "paint" the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Walker has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit. (Arthouse Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Oct 28, 2010
    "We are not pickers of garbage; we are pickers of recyclable materials," Tião, an impoverished Brazilian catadore, or trash picker, declares to a talk-show host in Lucy Walker's inspiring documentary Waste Land.
  2. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 7, 2010
    It's not a very good title, Waste Land - this isn't a bleak film, at all - but just about everything else in Lucy Walker's documentary works, and illuminates.
  3. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Oct 28, 2010
    Though narrower in scope and lacking the first-person angle, Waste Land resembles Agnès Varda's great 2000 documentary "The Gleaners & I," particularly in its awe of tough, creative, hard-working people who live on the margins.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Oct 24, 2010
    Lucy Walker's Waste Land takes his (Vik Muniz) project one step deeper by actually getting to know Muniz's models, which brings a compelling human-interest dimension to the sort of art documentary otherwise better suited for TV.
  5. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Dec 12, 2010
    Walker's breezy film turns Muniz into a folk hero. And who am I to argue?
  6. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Dec 12, 2010
    Waste Land is just what the film's website says it is: "stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit."
  7. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Oct 26, 2010
    It probably would have helped if Walker (who credits two other codirectors) had chosen just one of those avenues for deeper study; her doc has a vertiginous way of feeling arty and ephemeral at one moment, humane and maybe too earthbound the next.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Dec 28, 2010
    This is the best film that I have seen this year. Put away your fears that this is a guilt-driven movie. It is realistic and optimistic. The takeaway: when you see yourself as you really are, it transforms you in a second. Expand
  2. Jul 8, 2012
    A documentary about the international acclaimed Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who reconstructs photos using garbage materials from Jardim Gramacho, the world Expand