One of the finest documentaries of the year, this involving film is lucid, sharply well shot and edited, and ultimately so important that it's rather terrifying to watch. It starts as an exploration of the state of the war on drugs then follows the trail of destruction to the prison industry. It's a thrilling piece of cinema.
One of the worst ironies of American history is that, right after Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs in the late 1960s, drug use escalated precipitously, sending hundreds of thousands to prison as laws grew increasingly draconian. Today, the USA houses 25 per cent of the world's prison population - more than larger, seemingly more prison-happy countries like Russia or China - and experts are unanimous in noting that these laws specifically target poor and marginalised people. So sending them to prison only creates huge problems for society at large.
In tackling such a hot potato topic, filmmaker Jarecki (Freakonomics) wisely avoids bombarding us with statistics, even though they're here. Instead, he takes an intensely personal approach, focussing on people whose lives have been derailed by laws that tear apart families by jailing non-violent criminals far longer than necessary. This has scary ramifications as prisons have become a massive corporate industry that lobbies the government for even stricter penalties. More prisoners mean higher profits.
Continue reading: The House I Live In Review
First off, Republicans should not be scared of this film. Jarecki and editor Nancy Kennedy aren't looking to throw darts at one party or another. Instead, the focus of the film is to see how the need for American democracy has become an excuse to further American imperialism. Angry liberals like Gore Vidal and ex-CIA man Chalmers Johnson are given equal floor with Richard Perle and other members of the Project for the New American Century. Unlike Michael Moore's powerful but unquestionably biased Fahrenheit 9/11, Jarecki doesn't film the neoconservatives with a subversive tone. The film is based solely on facts and the interviewee's mixed bag of opinions. The only reason you could call Why We Fight anti-conservative is because it's questioning the history of the U.S.'s military thinking; the current government just happens to be conservative.
Continue reading: Why We Fight Review
However, regarding actual legal action against Kissinger the film isn't convincing beyond a reasonable doubt mainly because there are so many other men (especially Nixon) who could equally take the blame. But unlike Hitchens' book it isn't full of contempt for its subject nor does it have the feeling of a smoking gun conspiracy. The evidence is presented straightforwardly and best of all there are numerous interviews by the likes of the aforementioned Hitchens and Hirsch as well as New York Times writes Elizabeth Becker and William Safire who have studied Kissinger's actions closely. There are also interviews by a good number who worked alongside Kissinger in those years - many of whom were wiretapped by Kissinger in the 1970s.
Continue reading: The Trials Of Henry Kissinger Review