Movie Review: The Corporation (2003)

Some camera tricks but hits target well enough ____ 7/10

Directed by Mark Achbar

Noam Chomsky ….Himself
Peter Drucker ….Himself
Milton Friedman …. Himself
Kathie Lee Gifford …. Herself (archive)
Michael Moore ….Himself
Franklin Delano Roosevelt  Himself (archive)
Steve Wilson ….Himself
Others…..  Almost all themselves

In a continuing quest to determine whether the corporate person is conducive to the life of real breathing human persons, I picked up this 2004 movie from the Netflix queue.  It has the look and feel of a Michael Moore movie, and accordingly is a lesser effort for some cheap camera tricks.

Nonetheless, I come away with an appreciation of new information that, along with what our informal tribunal of citizens has already learned, is certainly enough for an indictment of the corporation in extremis.

Basically the camera trick is as follows: In the course of a narrative the viewer is shown images of something utterly devastating, so the viewer wrongly believes the images connect to the narration.

My favorite is a guy complaining about sinus problems at a business conference near a polluting company.  Then we see this river full of suds—heck, it looks like a toxic Tide commercial—then pictures of a big ol’ fish being poisoned and falling to the river floor.

For all we know the images could be from the former Soviet Union.  It’s unfortunate the producers undercut their case by faulty logic, or at the very least undocumented footage.  Still, as scrupulous attenders we have to consider the totality of their message.

For most of the analytical description, the movie is on solid ground.  It goes through the history of corporations and successfully makes the case that they have acquired unintended privileges (which have become fundamentally dangerous to human life).

As we observe from a book review of Unequal Protection, the Founders never intended corporations to have any but temporary powers granted by the state for specific purposes, such as building bridges.  Now they’ve wrongly become “persons” and have set themselves above any law or constitution—buying off public officialdom en masse. Continue reading

Movie Review: Sicko (2007)

Typical slicko Michael Moore fare still strikes nerve (7/10)
Written and Directed by Michael Moore

SickoMichael Moore: So there was actually one place on American soil with free, universal healthcare.
[cut to aerial picture of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba]
Michael Moore: That’s all I needed to know.

To say that Sicko tugs at your heart strings is like saying an aircraft carrier leaves a wake. Moore is a master of both sob-story revelation and factual selectivity in the service of powerful messages, whether it’s corporate perfidy (Roger and Me), national politics (Fahrenheit 911)[1], gun policy (Bowling for Columbine), or health care issues (Sicko). Sometimes, as with the Charlton Heston footage in Columbine[2] the selectivity is outright fraudulent. But even when he crosses the line, Moore excels at generating sympathy for real people.

The primary technique for creating misimpressions that I’ve seen, however, in Moore’s movies and other mockumentaries from left or right, is to trick the emotional-perceptual mechanism. For example, the movie The Corporation I reviewed had a sequence describing a plant that was generating toxic waste… then during the narration we’re shown video images of white sludge coasting on dirty water. No attempt is made to connect this water to that specific plant, and most viewers see the vile image (perception) and have the immediate emotional reaction of righteous anger toward the owners of the plant… for which no actual evidence has demonstrated its culpability. It’s just pictures and feelings. Continue reading

Brian’s Column: Michael Moore’s Letter…

… if he were a libertarian

finallyThis was first posted/penned on November 14, 2006, one of my very first Coffee Coaster columns. In the elections of that year, George Dubya’s administration suffered an apparent defeat at the polls, by persons deciding to elect more a*****e Democrats to Congress than a*****e Republicans. And Michael Moore put together a consolation letter to the Republican a*****es in the White House and nationwide. [I have now reached nearly the bottom of the barrel so to speak of my earlier columns that I’m not embarrassed to repost on the new WordPress plaftormed Coffee Coaster. So this will be an incentive to focus and schedule so that I can bring a fresh Brian’s column every Monday (or so).]  Continue reading

Book Review: Rivethead (1992)

Tales from the assembly line
by Ben Hamper
Review by Brian Wright

RivetheadFor my mother it [Family Night at the old Fisher Body Plant in Flint] was at least one night of the year when she could verify the old man’s whereabouts. One night a year when she could be reasonably assured that my father wasn’t lurchin’ over a pool table at the Patio Lounge or picklin’ his gizzard at any one of a thousand beer joints out on Dort Highway. My father loved his drink.  He wasn’t nearly as fond of labor. — from the first page Continue reading