Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Top 4 Juicy Documentaries

I love left-leaning documentary films that expose the ills of society and fire up the will to change things. Of course, they're not all created equal.

Some are dry, some speculate too far into flaky conspiracy theories, some are narrated by a porky celebrity or public figure whose image and reputation overshadows the message, and some are just poorly produced in terms of footage, editing, and music. The following four, however, are AWESOME, and come highly recommended by me.

1. Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. I knew Fox News was biased towards conservative politics and tabloid pulp, but I never knew how deep it went, or how successfully it had managed to misinform the public and change America, until I saw this film. Watch it and never watch f'ing Fox again.

2. The Corporation. I like this one because it's artfully done, almost like a good music video in some segments. At the same time, it's loaded with good information on what a corporation actually is, and how that legal structure creates a powerful but amoral entity that, if it were a person, we would have to classify as a psychopath. This movie thoroughly debunks the notion that the unregulated free market will act in the public interest, and explains pretty well how we got into the current economic crisis.

3. The Unforseen. This is the most "soulful" of the documentaries in my list. It focuses on the story of the development of the Barton Springs watershed in Austin, Texas. It really gets into the lives and emotions of the individuals involved in the controversy, and their different relationships to nature and each other. Also, it shows the early rise of George W. Bush / Karl Rove, who got elected governor by deviously turning Texans' state pride into anti-environmental, property-rights mania. I actually went to Barton Springs before this movie was made, when it was still almost crystal clear, and it's tragic to think that it has now been spoiled forever by the cancer-like sprawl of the suburbs.

4. Who Killed the Electric Car? Short summary: American car makers actually made a great, fully-electric car way back in the 1990s, but when they saw how popular it was going to get they "pulled the plug" so to speak. They snatched back all of the demo models that people were happily leasing and destroyed them. All so they could continue making a greater profit on traditional gas guzzlers. This movie will give you no sympathy for the the current troubles of Big Auto. They had it and they blew it, because they were too greedy for money.

You can get any of these films on Netflix.


Johnny Douglass said...

Thanks for the reviews.
Saw The Corporation. Two thumbs up. What a big irony! This pinnacle of free enterprise idealism (the corporation) is almost perfectly described by the nemesis of free enterprise idealism (Communism). I.e. it is a gigantic collectively owned system of production run by an ostensibly (though feebly) democratic secretive priesthood of self serving amoral and immoral oligarchs.
Also I much appreciated the Electric Car film. I have put the other two in my Netflix queue.

John said...

Not going to lie, the electric car thing torques me off; although it doesn't surprise me at all. Wish someone would actually clear up business/political bullshit.