'Orwell': Big, Boring Brother
By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2004; Page WE37
Robert Kane Pappas's movie preaches to the choirs already stuffed with, but presumably not sated by, the nefarious doings of Republicans, corporations and their powerful, deregulating ilk. The wordy, talking-head-dominated movie feels like a do-over of the views and arguments found in such Republican-bashing documentaries as "Fahrenheit 9/11," "The Corporation" and "Outfoxed." The focus, this time, is on the monolithic media, chiefly television, that dutifully report on news that the (Republican, primarily) government decides is fit for the public. That's the Orwellian aspect of Pappas's take on the media, or in the words of interviewee and media watchdog Danny Schechter, the "mediacracy."
But even though "Orwell" makes telling points through its interviewees (including historians, legal experts, media observers and, of course, Michael Moore), the argument feels occasionally over-the-top. That tone isn't helped by the almost comically ominous music on the soundtrack. It doesn't help matters, either, that Pappas chooses to interview people in the dullest of settings, at their desks, in front of book shelves, that sort of thing. Your eyes are not rewarded for sitting through this. In the end, the movie comes across as a political science course videotape rather than a movie to fully engage a general audience.
ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE (Unrated, 95 minutes) --Contains nothing objectionable. At the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company