The Lottery of Birth by Raoul Martinez & Joshua van Praag (2013)
This one goes deep, examining presumptions that are seldom considered. We are fed from birth a stream of myths, which we then spend much of later life debunking. The filmmakers challenge people who say that they are not political. Often, these same people, because they have totally internalized our political myths, are the most political of all.
Project Censored THE MOVIE by Doug Hecker and Christopher Oscar (2013)
How do we end the endless parade of junk-food news? What stories should be covered? This documentary is the incarnation of the 40 year labor of love, Project Censored.
The American Ruling Class by John Kirby & Lewis Lapham (2005)
Ruling class? We have a ruling class? Lewis Lapham, author and editor, breaks the fourth wall and walks us through the American corridors of power, from Yale to the Council on Foreign Relations. Along the way: Walter Cronkite, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Pete Seeger. Highly recommended.
Manufacturing Consent by Mark Achbar & Peter Wintonick (1992)
Liberal writers and intellectuals really despise Noam Chomsky, as you can see on display in this important doc. The title, by the way, comes not from Chomsky, the MIT professor, but from Walter Lippmann, the “liberal” who maintained an astonishingly low opinion of ordinary Americans. Chomsky merely shows how media-manufactured consent is carried out.
Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore (2009)
This most personal of Moore’s films attacks the belief that, with all its troubles, corporate capitalism is the only way to go. Tucked in the special features section, by the way, is an example of true socialism: a Wisconsin taxi company owned and entirely managed by its workers.
Citizenfour by Laura Poitras (2014)
Edward Snowden risked his freedom to send this message to the American people: your government is spying on you, even if you aren’t a terrorist, criminal or anything else. This documentary, told by the brave Poitras and with the help of equally brave Glenn Greenwald, is the story of Snowden’s decision to tell on this spying, and the aftermath for him and us.
The Corporation by Mark Achbar & Jennifer Abbott (2003)
Corporations are people—so says our legal fiction. Well, the filmmakers ask, what kind of people are they? Psychopaths. That’s the thesis, with plenty of evidence along the way. A landmark documentary.
Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki (2005)
We begin with Eisenhower’s farewell, where he warns us (on the way out) about the growing power of our military-industrial complex. The “why we fight” question seems to revolve around the economic needs of large military contractors. At the very least, this vast eternal subsidy must be part of the calculation when asking, why are we going to war?
Inequality for All by Jacob Kornbluth (2013)
Macroeconomics with liberal Robert Reich. Who are the job creators in America? Consumers, answers Reich. This is a liberal, left-of-center, rather than a Left economic analysis, with many good points and a hopeful outlook.
Dirty Wars by Rick Rowley (2015)
Jeremy Scahill gets in harm's way, as he attempts to learn about and comprehend our war on terror. With night raids, drone strikes, secret armies, and torture, we are doling out plenty of our own terror. Watching the movie, the viewer is often worried for the safety of Scahill and crew. Electric.
Capitalism Hits the Fan by Sut Jhally (2009)
A low-budget, filmed lecture, this is a superb and very easy to follow explanation of the big economic crash — why it happened and what to do in the future. Economist Richard Wolff breaks it down, and in less than one hour you can gain a decent understanding of what happened (and is still happening). A Marxian, rather than liberal outlook.
Standing Army by Thomas Fazi & Enrico Parenti (2010)
With contributions from Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, this documentary points to our massive military presence — 716 bases in 38 countries, with over one quarter of a million soldiers living there. The ownership and management of such an overwhelming military structure is incompatible with any real democratic republic.
The Possibility of Hope by Alfonso Cuaron (2007)
Dark, but as the name implies, not too dark. This short film was released as a DVD extra feature, accompanying the director’s sci-fi masterpiece, The Children of Men. The outsider-scientist James Lovelock features, as does Marxist philosopher Zizek. A little (dark) gem.