DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
SOUTH OF THE BORDER (director: Oliver Stone; screenwriters: Tariq Ali/ Mark Weisbrot; cinematographers: Albert Maysles/Carlos Marcovich/Lucas Fuica; editors: Alexis Chávez/ Elisa Bonora; music: Adam Peters; Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Fernando Sulichin/Jose Ibanez/Rob Wilson; Cinema Libre Studio; 2009-in English/Spanish/Portuguese with English subtitles)

 
"A missed opportunity to tell us more than Fox News is bias."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Oliver Stone ("Salvador"/"Platonn"/"Wall Street") takes us on a tour of Latin American countries that have turned to the left recently and away from accepting America's colonial policies. Stone offers his own propaganda to counter the American and Latin American mainstream media's negative reactions to these leadership changes. As a result Stone travels to the following countries to interview their leftist leaders: Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina) and her husband ex-President Nestor Kirchner, and Raul Castro (Cuba). Each of the seemingly rational leaders inform him that things are going well since they've come to power and tried to free their countries from control by the IMF, the  International Monetary Fund--the intergovernmental organization that oversees the global financial system that's supposedly, according to its critics, influenced by Wall Street and America to favor the capitalists over the poor people of Third World countries.

It's just as boring, necessary and full-of-itself as Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now! War and Peace Report." A missed opportunity to tell us more than Fox News is bias, that the Bush administration sucked and that Obama, if you will, might be the shining white knight to set America on a new policy course to win the hearts and minds of the poor in Latin America. So far all the rhapsodizing about these current Latin American leftist leaders changing the world and bringing about a utopian society is merely chatter without proof. Their answers to human-rights abuses is never questioned by the either naive or overly polite Stone, who never chats with the regular people and states at the end of this unbalanced film that maybe “predatory capitalism” is the bad guy because these countries can probably live with “benign capitalism” and not need to go totally socialist for their revolutionary aims to succeed.

I think viewers should question all views on Latin American policies, whether from the right or left, because they all smack of partisan blindness and though they present certain truths these truths can't be completely relied on to give one a clear view of what's going on in countries where poverty is still king and corruption and abuse of power still reigns, even if the U.S. is no longer pulling on the strings. It's best to question all responses till satisfied that some truth has been established, and this film leaves a lot to be questioned.

I think this could have been a more probing report if a qualified journalist with integrity and balls had this opportunity instead of a well-meaning dilettante like Stone, who only went there to fulfill his political agenda and showoff his friendship with the 'bad boy' Chavez, and therefore despite his access to the leaders and that he more or less got things right--this was still a missed opportunity to score some vital info to an American public that needs answers it can trust.

I agree the American media helps keep the public misinformed about what's going down south of the border. It's my hope that, perhaps, at best, this flawed doc is necessary if it could be used as a primer to begin the discussion on what's happening and what needs to be done with our neighbors in South America and not as the final word. But I'm afraid it will be viewed, fairly or unfairly, as a confrontational doc that will only speak to the chorus when the aim should be to throw out a much wider net. 

REVIEWED ON 10/20/2010       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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