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Review: Dreams amok in 'American Empire'

December 13, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • Maude Barlow in "American Empire."
Maude Barlow in "American Empire." (Handout )

Documentaries don't get more one-sided than "American Empire: An Act of Collective Madness," but what a persuasive side it is. Watching this alarm-sounding, anti-corporate exposé may make more than a few viewers consider getting off the grid -- if not the planet -- as soon as humanly possible.

Producer-director Patrea Patrick (she also shot, edited and narrated the film plus co-wrote it with Jack Tucker) takes America to task for allowing private banks and multinational companies, not its citizens, to control our economy, which, the movie contends, has led to "a cartelization of the world."

Patrick also posits that a republic, which our country is intended to be, can't co-exist with an empire, which, she asserts, the U.S. has become.

Bold claims, yes, but Patrick, supported by unequivocal interviews with a mix of authors, environmentalists, historians and economists, examines many inconvenient truths that cogently support her nightmare scenario. Little here, whether it's dissecting the Federal Reserve Act or the Patriot Act, scrutinizing heinous business practices or clarifying grand-scale economic distortions feels anything but real.

Also important to note: This is a nonpartisan diatribe. To the filmmaker, both political parties are seemingly to blame for the corporate manipulation of America's money, agriculture, fuel sources, workforce and more. Patrick's equal opportunity finger-pointing is no small feat in these hyper-polarized times.


"American Empire: An Act of Collective Madness." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. At Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino.

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