Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause Movie Review
For those unfamiliar with Chomsky's rhetoric (and I don't mean that pejoratively), Chomsky claims that -- in a nutshell -- we are being controlled by the government and the mass media, who are co-opted by business and interested in keeping us complacent through warmongering and scare tactics. This would all be dismissable as crackpot theorizing if Chomsky wasn't so erudite and didn't have the uncanny ability to footnote everything he says. Chomsky is simply brilliant, and many of the films about him make that apparent.
Rebel Without a Pause is a decent, if uninspiring, update to the most noteworthy Chomsky documentary (and the first), 1992's Manufacturing Consent, which is probably justified, since world events have changed dramatically in the intervening years. Chomsky -- seen here in footage taped at lectures and various chats with students -- hasn't, really. Oddly, he's a touch softer, if anything, as he's now seen that the Internet has opened up channels for advocacy and activism that didn't exist a decade ago. On the other hand, American imperialism gives Chomsky much to indict -- and his opinions on 9/11 and the 2nd Gulf War are accessible, interesting, and insightful (even if Michael Moore has been over much of the same ground).
Too bad that filmmaker Will Pascoe doesn't have much access to Chomsky himself -- the closest he ever gets is interview Noam's wife Carol, plus various other fans of the Chomsky liturgy. There's only so much excitement a movie can generate by listening to first-year college kids ask nearly inaudible, pedantic questions of Chomsky while he scratches his face and nods. Why isn't Chomsky interviewed directly? After 20-odd movies, I'm willing to bet he's simply getting tired of being on camera.