Heather Hope, who has excellent taste (see last bullet point), says, of The Art of the Steal: "I hated this movie and don’t recommend that anyone see it." Why? Because "it’s completely one-sided," an "ill-conceived gem of propaganda."
And Kevin Murphy -- who's a Democratic speechwriter on Capitol Hill -- says the movie "gradually becomes so grossly one-sided in its telling that it skips right over myopic and naive and ends up feeling downright corrupt." The whole thing is worth reading, but some highlights:
"I would also argue there's a world-historical eminent domain question here that should at least be addressed. Albert Barnes may have been a Great Man, but...Mistah Barnes, he dead. ... He's as dead as King Tut, who probably would not have signed off on what Howard Carter et al did to his tomb. ... And, speaking of which, there's a reason why Indiana Jones' usually undisputed refrain is, 'It belongs in a museum!'
"You may disagree, of course, and think that Barnes' will should be held inviolate from now until the End of Days -- Ok, that's cool, we disagree. But a good documentary would at least entertain this obvious opposing argument. . . . [I]n its final half-hour or so, Art of the Steal just fulminates and rages, barely making any sense at all. It accuses City officials of enacting an elaborate and corrupt scam on the people, and then depicts County officials, as well as the area's GOP Congressman, as if they're pure art lovers or something. . . .
"[T]he movie generates so much heat in the end that the light is lost. At one point, Governor Ed Rendell says the move of the collection to Philadelphia just seemed like an easy call to him, and after watching this documentary, I didn't see much to disqualify that claim. Other than following verbatim the will of a man with no heirs who's been dead for fifty years, what were the reasons again for keeping the collection in Lower Merion?
"In choosing to be a one-sided screed rather than an in-depth exploration of the subject at hand, Art of the Steal does its very interesting topic no favors."