Thursday, October 21, 2010

South of the Border DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Oliver Stone DVD Examines Rise of Socialism in Latin America

If you’ve read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins, then you are well aware of the lengths to which CIA and other agents operating on behalf of the U.S. government and Fortune 500 corporations have gone to install puppets as heads of state in countries all across Latin America. But those still in the dark about America’s role in countless coups around the region, might feel enlightened by South of the Border, as informative a history lesson as anybody could hope for.
This damning documentary was directed by three-time Oscar-winner Oliver Stone (for Platoon, Midnight Express and Born on the Fourth of July), a man who has never been afraid to tackle controversial aspects of presidential politics in thought-provoking fashion, whether JFK, Nixon or W. What makes this piece unique is its documentary format, as the aforementioned entries were docudramas, criticized by some for indulging in speculation and paranoid conspiracy theories.
Here, Stone sticks to the facts, and makes it quite clear where his loyalties lie, namely, with Chavez in Venezuela, with Castro in Cuba, with Morales in Bolivia and with other South American leaders of populist movements. Why? Because he ostensibly admires how these freedom fighters have managed to break the cycle of exploitation of their countries’ people and natural resources for the benefit of Western nations.
Over the course of the film, Stone not only narrates, but interviews seven democratically-elected presidents in order to highlight how they ascended to power as a consequence of a mandate from the majority. Ad infinitum, he drives home the point that we aren’t dealing with dictators or strongmen as is often suggested by the mainstream media so fond of vilifying these working-class heroes.
An optimistic, cinematic outing of the United states’ predatory exportation of capitalism in a manner which has ravaged the Rainforest while leaving the indigenous peoples of South American burdened by bleak prospects for survival.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
In English, Spanish and Portuguese with subtitles.
Running time: 78 Minutes
Studio: Cinema Libre Studio
DVD Extras: Oliver Stone’s additional questions for Hugo Chávez,behind the scenes at the South American Promotional Tour, deleted scenes, “Changes in Venezuela” (a look at Chávez’s reforms and the impact on the country’s poor), plus two South American TV interviews with Oliver Stone.

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