DVD Takes

I had intended to post a review today about No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese’s new documentary on Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, the travails and tribulations of life have kept me from getting to Disc 2. Hence, in the interim I offer an installment on some previously recently viewed DVDs. Hopefully, Scorsese on Dylan will appear here tomorrow.

Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2003) 2.5/5

George Orwell’s Big Brother is here today and his name is the mainstream media. That is the theme filmmaker Robert Kane Pappas advances in this documentary. Pappas is concerned about the concentration of media ownership in the hands of very few large corporations and what he sees as a resulting loss of democratization. He also somehow tries to tie it to the Bush elections and the elitist right. The title, though, is misleading. The Ministry of Truth here is not a government one as in Orwell’s 1984 but simply the media’s incessant and inane desire to run from sensational story to sensational story without ever examining the hard facts.

The Joke (1969) 3/5

This Czech film, made during the Prague Spring, tells the story of how a seemingly harmless yet politically incorrect joke leads to the eviction of Ludvik from the university and the party and years of hard labor in a military prison system. Several years later he returns to his hometown on a self-described “cynical mission” to seek revenge on those responsible for his exile. Ludvik observes the historical story in flashback form as he visits various scenes of his past and denunciation. Although Ludvik has achieved limited professional success despite his past, he ultimately learns that even the best laid and executed plans for revenge do not provide absolution or solution.

The Pawnbroker (1964) 3/5

A bleak almost existentialist look at how the loss of his wife and family in the Holocaust has left a man emotionally and spiritually numb and bankrupt. Rod Steiger was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the concentration camp survivor who operates a pawn shop in a declining section of New York City. Told in significant part through flashbacks, the technique is not as effectively used as the flashback approach in The Joke.

Could a media system, controlled by a few global corporations with the ability to overwhelm all competing voices, be able to turn lies into truth?

Orwell Rolls in His Grave

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