Alice Coltrane / Jagadishwar from Translinear Light
For years, an important film genre has been documentary films. Unlike the fiction genres of film, only documentaries had an ultimate aim of being non-fiction. If Hollywood films were the fictional stories about life, the documentary films were like a type of film criticism of these fictional stories of life.
I’ve always loved documentary films as well as non-fiction books. I’ve written a non-fiction book called Battle of Symbols about the global dynamics advertising, entertainment and media. In 2001. Right after 9/11. From the perspective of symbols and symbolism. Looking at them from this perspective, much was learned and put into the book. Put in the context of heroes of mine like Marshall McLuhan and Carl Jung. From a strong Jungian and McLuhan perspective on the state of the world in 2002. After 9/11.
Twenty years before I wrote Battle of Symbols, I wrote Spirit Catcher: The Art & Life of John Coltrane (1981 from GreatHouse Publishers).
In 2013,, I begin a project of putting leading Hollywood film genres into one book. I called the book Hollywood Safari and it reached about 150 pages in length. When I stopped writing it and moved from the California desert back to Ohio.
Over the past few decades, I’ve put much faith in that genre called the documentary films to make comments on culture and society. I’ve seen many of the great ones and constantly watch for new documentaries on NetFlix and Amazon.
Politics is such an interesting question in this respect. Documentaries can always be analyzed for their political content. But if one tried to define the political content of the documentary films of Ken Burns, one would probably avoid ideological labels but simply say “American.” His films explore important and interesting topics in American history from various perspectives.
Beyond Burns, you get into left and right film documentarians. And very much politics for two of the leading film documentarians today.
Certainly, the grand Democratic, Liberal documentary film maker of the past twenty years has been Michael Moore. I think I’ve seen all his films. And, on the Republican, Conservative side, I would have to say that Dinesh Joseph D’Souza is the leading current filmmaker. That is, in that smaller genre of political film off documentary films today.
But D’Souza goes far beyond the bindings of political parties with his latest film Prison State. Co-Produced with Dan Bongino. I saw one of the two screenings of it in Columbus, Ohio. The fourteenth largest metro area in the nation. It was at the big Cineplex 18 Theater in Polaris. My two friends, Rich and Steve, and I had all watched the previous film of D’Souza together. Based around the election fraud that lost the election for Trump. Told in very detailed photos and put into a compelling argument.
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But Dinesh has learned a tremendous amount since his last film. On the other hand, there has been a tremendous number of events in life and culture that give this film more believability aimed at – not the left or right in American – but simply all those who still want and believe in freedom. This is such a better symbol that pulls together those that believe and don’t believe in freedom in life. Perhaps these are the two groups that ultimately need to be placed against each other?
Probably one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever watched. Disturbing because I realize that I am living the life pictured on the screen. All Americans who are against the Police State. D’Souza makes a strong statement that America is already in a police state. As one person in the film comments, changing America has been a slow process, like slowly turning up the heat in a tub where frogs will die rather than leave the hot water. Or something like this.
Denish d’ Souza, like Michael Moore, has earned the position of a solid conservative figure on the frontline of the conservative fight today. In a similar way, Michael Moore has gained the status of an important liberal documentary film maker.
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The new Police State uses the powerful intrusion into any our lives today to suggest that the nation has reached a Police State. Indeed, it matters little your politics after you see this film. D’Souza simply shows us the images from the last few years that we’re all seen. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Liberal. This powerful film statement is for freedom more than anything else. It is far from tied to some political ideology. Rather a major symbol in our lives. The symbol of freedom. It expresses itself in so many ways. And forms. Sometimes just tiny sprouts buried in the grass.
I offer a challenge to anyone to watch this film and challenge me here.
Unfortunately, few in America will see the film. Looking around the Cineplex 18, there might have been 30 or 40 in the seats of the theater. It will play one more evening here in Columbus, and then will be gone. Perhaps resurrected by D’Souza. Certainly not on the anti-freedom media outlet of YouTube. Who knows.
More than anything, this is a wake-up from the “Covid Slumber” of the past few years. For all of us. This is certainly not addressed to just conservatives. But really about the idea and symbol of Freedom. D’Souza has refined down the things that we’ve all witnessed in the past few years. Whether Democrats of Republicans. Most interesting of all, the events he focuses on are the events that we’ve all witnessed happen in the past few years.
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A film not about something coming to American but rather, something that is here already. The question that D’Souza wants all of us to as is whether we want a police state or not. It is hard to question the event evidence he offers up that we are all living in a police state right now. (Yeah, and good you don’t know it).
Much of the documentary is composed of simply the events of our history in the past five years. Years when freedoms have quickly been given up. Much of his arguments are caught in images from various outlets of mainstream news during this period. Images everyone has seem, knows about. The big events in culture and politics.
His previous film was about how freedom was lost. His current film Police State is about living within this state. Freedom has been lost already.
One of the most disturbing films I’ve ever watched.
Disturbing because it is such a reminder of how much freedom we have lost over the last ten years. It is difficult for anyone to argue this it seems to me. It seems like such an issue so much larger than politics they want us to focus on.
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With Police State, D’Souza mixes appropriate real-world actors with various “police state” moves throughout the film. Importantly, the police state ramming into one’s home, unannounced, is one of the modern tactics of intimidation. D’Souza supplies plenty of footage arguing this, both starting and ending the film with this form of government intrusion, intimidation today.
Hopefully, it will be made more widely available after this national just two-night run. We’ll see. It’s hard to imagine the modern media and entertainment scene (fictional Hollywood) becoming that interested in all of this.
But the film to me is powerful and so disturbing. It states in such plain language just where we are today. Through the voices of many others. Voices that need hearing but have little chance of getting it. D’Souza has pulled his focus on the idea of Freedom standing in opposition to a Police State.
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It is this Police State he argues we have right now.
I wish the film could have wider distribution. And perhaps, it will someday.
I wish that all of you reading this could watch the film.
But, right now, an impossibility based on just a few nights theater rentals around the nation. In this film, it’s not difficult to see a new type of political documentary. This type, a blend of Ken Burns’ ideas about America and, D’Souza’s ideas about Freedom in America. When you think about it, the basic symbol of America was alway Freedom. Equality came later. Once there was established the freedom to even express something like equality. The fact one can even see the opposite symbol of freedom in equality. Always the two paradoxical founding symbols of the nation.
Denish offers one of the most powerful documentary films of our times. Not about politics. Rather about the loss of the American symbol of freedom.
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The American sense (and passion) for Freedom.
No one does this better in the non-fiction documentary form than Dinesh D’Souza. Is there a Hollywood fiction-form to illustrate this point? This is not a bad marketing question. For translating D’Souza’s truth’s in the documentary genre to the entertainment genre. The big players in Hollywood. Outside the world of documentary film makers.
Few have ever made a film like Police State. Perhaps a new genre of documentary film making? Films about the idea of Freedom more than anything else in our times. More than anything else, to simply show people how they have been losing aspects of their Freedom(s). With events and images from culture.
Is it asking too much for a new genre of documentary films simply based around the idea of Freedom. As opposed to films based around the idea of Equality.
Is there a (temporary) balance between the two?
After the powerful film, our group goes to a pub right next to the theater to talk about the film. There is so much in it. The scope of it touching on so many things that everyone has seen in the past few years.
It is a Monday night but the place is full. Above us, there are maybe twelve giant tvs on the wall with various sports events on.
We might be living in a police state but you would hardly know it by looking around the bar tonight. The TVs and the bar are distractions from reflecting on the police state. A show on OSU Buckeyes football is on one of the channels. The Buckeyes have just gotten past Penn State and head towards the big annual showdown with Michigan. On one screen there’s images of Taylor Swift at the Kansas City game against the LA Rams.
See Andrea Widburg’s excellent review of Police State.