The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

The Corporation

View this as a companion piece to "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room." It is a sprawling 2 hour 25 minute documentary exploring the history, legal status, and behavior patterns of corporations. Although the documentary mentions international corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell, all legal discussions are purely American.

The film starts badly, and for the first 10 minutes I thought I was going to have to turn it off. Lots of quick cut flashes of corporate logos and a breathy female narrator spouting hyperbole. But then the film settled down and I was pleasantly surprised to find good history and overview of the growth of corporations, their legal privileges, and some good analysis and thought pieces.

The movie uses lots of talking head interviews with people such as Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, and Michael Moore – as well as a few CEOs of major corporate entities. It does occasionally fall back on cheap stock photography to illustrate over-simplified points, but then makes up for it with stunning recaps of major news events around the world involving corporations.

The film has a decidedly anti-corporate bias, but does at least attempt to acknowledge the opposite viewpoint and point out some good from the system. If nothing else, this will get you talking. Recommended as a primer on a complex and pervasive subject. Or you can watch the short form by simply cueing up one of my favorite classic film scenes - Ned Beatty in "Network" explaining things to Howard Beale:

"There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. [...]
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality -- one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused."

God, I love that film, that speech, and that performance!!!

Parents note: No cautions for this movie. The subject matter is not interesting to children.

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