Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald

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Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers Review


Very Good
The advantage that agitprop documentarian Robert Greenwald has in choosing the subjects he does -- Fox News, Wal-Mart, and now, Halliburton -- is that a certain segment of his audience is already ready to fly into a rage at their mere mention. And that's before he even gets to the dirt. Another advantage for Greenwald is that for some of his targets, there's almost no end of dirt to find.

The charges leveled by Greenwald in Iraq for Sale seem to come from another time in our nation's history, but they're serious enough: war profiteering. It wasn't that long ago in American history that the very idea of a business making a profit from war was thought to be unseemly at best and illegal and unpatriotic at the worst. What the film shows in stark terms is that companies aren't just profiting obscenely from the Iraq War, but there's no outrage about it in the corridors of power because far too many of those in power are also the ones profiting from the arrangement.

Continue reading: Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers Review

The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress Review


OK
No matter how hard it shakes its fist or rails at the firmament, there's a feeling of dull inevitability to the litany of deceit and crookery laid out in Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck's documentary The Big Buy: Tom Delay's Stolen Congress, even though they seem to feel that they've produced a noble and inspiring story of the fight versus Republican corruption. They can think that because in their corner they've got Texas's Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earl, the ascetic prosecutor who finally brought down "The Hammer" for his many alleged instances of laundering illegal corporate contributions through the Republican Party. The Texas Ranger-like Earl, deeply religious and given to pronouncements of high moral dudgeon, is a refreshing counterpoint to the slick and perpetually grinning DeLay, who of course only appears walking sinisterly in slo-mo on news clips. The problem is, when all is said and done, even if DeLay goes to prison for a very long time -- one of the charges he's currently arraigned on carries a possible life sentence -- the damage he wrought during his time in office can't be easily undone. Thus, there's a letdown at the end of this well-meaning but somewhat scruffy film.

The filmmakers have a doozy of a subject on their hands, but there's only so much one can make of such a man when he refuses to be interviewed. Starting off in Sugar Land, Texas, the heart of DeLay's congressional district, the film follows a couple of local Republican women (one even an activist in the party) who talk about DeLay like he was some promising but wayward teenager who brought shame on them all, lumping him in with that "gang of thugs" he brought to Washington with him. Since this is a Texas political documentary -- and one that keeps things pretty local, which will hurt its chances for viewership outside the Lone Star State -- the ever-earthy authors Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower also show up to lob a few spears at DeLay, who provides his critics with a big fat target.

Continue reading: The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress Review

Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of A Low Price Review


Very Good
When it comes to the shibboleths loathed by the left, from President Bush to Fox News, the one that seems to generate the most antipathy is the discount behemoth that is Wal-Mart. In his new muckraking film Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Robert Greenwald - who previously went after Rupert Murdoch's flag-waving news channel in Outfoxed - takes on America's single biggest employer, an entity that stands accused of everything from annihilating small town economies to union-busting. While the result can at times seem more like a very effective promotional tool for the current vogue of Wal-Mart boycotts than a proper documentary, it also stands as a good model of how to approach such an emotional topic without hysteria - a rarity in agitprop films of this kind.

The structure of Greenwald's film is pretty simple but effective, it's one used quite often by newsmagazine shows like Dateline. Each segment begins with an idyllic presentation of a small-town business or ordinary workers just trying to make ends meet and raise their families. Then we find out how Wal-Mart has not only torched these people's lives but done so in a way that's hard for even the most ardently laissez-faire capitalist not to be disturbed by. It's difficult to look at scene after scene of vacant storefronts on the deserted main streets of small towns - an effect of a Wal-Mart opening nearby which is memorably referred to by one person as akin to a neutron bomb explosion - and not feel that this is an area where something more complicated than strict supply and demand rules need to be considered.

Continue reading: Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of A Low Price Review

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism Review


Very Good
This may come as a surprise to you, but the FOX News Channel is considered by some to be a partisan network that spins the news to the right. I know, I know, stay seated because I'm sure your head is spinning at this assertion.

This is the basic premise of the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, which is produced in part by MoveOn.Org and the Center for American Progress, two left-leaning organizations that are working overtime these days to boot George W. Bush from the White House.

Continue reading: Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism Review

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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price Movie Review

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price Movie Review

When it comes to the shibboleths loathed by the left, from President Bush to Fox...

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