Wednesday, May 30, 2012
You know, there are just some things that shouldn’t be political, well at least shouldn’t be driven by political agendas. I always figured as a matter of human decency, that when something is good, it should be seen as good, when it is bad, it should be seen as bad. There are some things, say like a car company that refuses to fix a part for less than $1 per part because they figure that they can save money by paying out personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. In that case, thank you Michael Moore. Then there are situations like when you buy a hamburger, you should be able to get some things without a ton of sugar added to the product, thank you Morgan Spurlock. Now if you don’t know, I reference what many consider two very decent documentaries, Roger and Me and Super Size Me. Both films I enjoyed a great deal. Unfortunately, at least in the case of Michael Moore, many perceive him as now trying to push a political agenda, unfortunate since in many ways he kind of set the standard for many a documentary film maker. I always enjoyed his humor, even though he moved towards a personal agenda a little too much for me but the one thing I always appreciated about these two film makers is their ability to address a subject of serious importance, while at the same time, injecting a little humor into their film.
There is a new film maker on the horizon, one that comes from of all places, a banking background. His name is Ami Horowitz and he is taking on The United Nations. A subject many have strong opinions about but one the overwhelming majority of people don’t know of the seriousness of the issues related to The United Nations. As serious as this topic is, Horowitz takes it on with facts, the people involved, and good old investigative journalistic approaches, all while injecting satirical humor that should have fans of Michael Moore appreciating the work, yet, also confused because many on the political right are praising U.N. Me. On that note, remember how I started off the first paragraph? It is a shame that anyone would draw political lines here, especially with a movie that clearly shows the atrocities being perpetrated by, supported by, and in some ways, funded by the United Nations. That should and likely will have an impact on Americans who see the film, since America is the host of the United Nations and funds in excess of 9 Billion dollars a year, an increase of approximately 23% since 2009.
One of the things I seldom comment on in my documentary reviews is the characters on film, but I can’t help but make mention of the on screen time with Ami Horowitz. This guy is one heck of an entertaining gem. While this is a documentary, he fills the screen. I don’t know how much of what he did was scripted, how many takes it took, but there is so much, including interviews that are just laugh out loud funny. There is a quality in his direction. There are times to be serious and Horowitz does it, yet, he goes further, he has a unique way of showing the absurdity of certain serious situations, while at the same time, breaking the narrative with either humor or satire. It is here in many ways that he reminds me of Michael Moore, except, where Moore has of recent years come of as more of an angry old man, Horowitz has an innocence about him that should have fans of Moore and Spurlock among others enjoying his work
One of the things I am critical of, especially in regards to Documentaries is in the area of sound, lighting, and scripting. What a pleasure it is to see a movie of such significance take seriously not only the subject matter but also the way it is made. I have been a fan of documentaries for some time and know there is some terrific work out there, yet, truthfully, I haven’t seen as talented a documentary film maker since Morgan Spurlock and his making of Super Size Me. U.N. Me is not only educational, enlightening, and thought provoking, it is also funny, heart breaking and extremely entertaining. This is the type of documentary that fans of the movies will be able to watch, enjoy and get something out of, hopefully with a bur up their butts to get them to take seriously the atrocities that are occurring around our world. More on that later though, but technically, I was expecting a half way done documentary, yet this former banker, now turned film maker has put out one terrific bit of cinema. One that frankly, deserves as much of a nation wide opening as anything Michael Moore has put out in the last 20 years.
U.N. Me is an engaging, can’t take your eyes off of it 93 minute dissection of the atrocities occurring under the guise of the United Nations. Horowitz, as writer and director explores a variety of areas regarding the operations of the United Nations. In the exploration he lets us know from the outset, that the original purpose and still yet, some of the work done by the United Nations today is good, but he has us wondering what happened to the organization. It is clear, there are human rights violations that have occurred under the watchful eye of the United Nations, some of those violations occurring at the hands of the UN troops on the ground, those who over see them, and many others. From human rights violations to misappropriation of funds, the UN has become a weak shadow of what they were intended to be. Some may say after seeing this movie, a glaring reversal of what they were intended to be. From Rwanda, to Iran, and from Darfur to child sex abuse, one has to ask the questions as to why this organization continues on in the ways it does, especially on American soil at the cost it does to American citizens, when many of the nations in the United Nations have a clear and obvious hatred of not just the United States, but a clear and obvious willingness to commit human rights violations. While some on the left may choose to point a finger at United States policy, at times which may be justified, to ignore the violations occurring in other countries that are occurring to the extent they are is an unconscionable position for one to take. This film is weaved with first hand accounts, and amazingly, first hand video support of the violations. It is impossible to argue in favor of the UN policies and procedures in my opinion. At the point one does, I have to wonder, is it because of their hatred of The United States, or because they really don’t care about the issues of abuse that are clearly presented on screen. If this is the intent of Horowitz, he has greatly exceeded my expectations in explaining his point of view.
One of the things the Bible is clear on, despite the misrepresentations over the years by those who oppose Christianity, and yes, many Christians themselves, is that God is a God of justice who expects not just his people but societies to stand up for the poor. Of course for many, how that is done is legitimate debate. Some say the Bible speaks of issues of injustice, poverty and so forth over 2,000 times. Jesus himself clearly states that the only difference between those who have sincerely followed him and those who don’t is based on what they do, and don’t do for the poor, the homeless, the oppressed etc… To be driven to act based on feelings of power, money or any thing else when it doesn’t take into consideration the need to help is wrong and not Biblical. When done so out of pride, arrogance, and political power it is not just wrong, it is horrific. Some would even say, it is sin which separates us from God. I was in all honesty moved so much so that I don’t know whether to call this a review of the film or an editorial. I do know this, it is a shame that when we place so much emphasis on the image we present and ignore the murder of close to 1,000,000 people in Rwanda or know nothing about the atrocities currently going on in Darfur where innocent, men, women, and children are being slaughtered, in the case in Rwanda with machetes after in one situation the UN forces abandoned approximately 2,500 people they were to protect, because the image of impartiality was more important to the forces that be at the UN than protecting innocent life, many of which were children. Then to know, that some of those very people responsible for the slaughter are in positions of power and totally ignoring the things going on that we can clearly see from the footage and on the ground reports, including people like those in charge in the case mentioned in Rwanda. The politicians of the world have taken their positions of power out of arrogance and pride and unfortunately appear to care little about the needs of the people they represent. Of course expecting someone who justifies the murder of innocents to speak truth in situations like these should tell us whether or not we are the fool or not. Of course we can’t expect these types of people to speak truth, in many situations the UN, could have, should have, and maybe in a few instances has been an agency worth supporting, but I have to question is it now? The Bible talks about everyone standing before God someday, in that time, we need to say we stood up for what was right. I am reminded by the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:30, ‘…anyone who isn’t working with me, is working against me.’ As a person of faith, I can’t stand by and support an action, a will, a determination which is clearly working against the very precepts of my faith.
As stated earlier, this review is in many ways more of an editorial. Rarely has film impacted me, made me angry with what I would call righteous anger as has U.N. Me. Ami Horowitz has exercised brilliance in his ability to get me to contemplate, feel and express this. Yet, he did it while using humor and all of the other tools at his disposal. I normally rate movies on a scale of 1-10, especially for those prior to release or currently in theaters; I do so due to the fact you are likely spending your time and money. Let me tell you, I can’t give this one a high enough rating due to the necessity of seeing it. I would have a hope and a prayer for this one, just as Moore made a difference with Roger and Me, just as Spurlock made a difference with Super Size Me, my hope and prayer is that Horowitz will make a difference with U.N. Me. God knows, if he does, it will save innocent lives and help bring about justice. For that, how could I give anything except a rare and very deserving 10?
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