Oliver Stone likes to get stuck in where others don’t dare and does so again with this documentary, the aim of which is to counter the US media’s portrayal of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez (pictured) and fellow ‘Bolivarians’, such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, as mad, bad and dangerous. After a survey of some of the wilder TV reports and a recap of Chávez’s rise, Stone hotfoots it around South America, interviewing seven leaders on the fly, with exposed cameras, wires and lights lending a guerilla feel. Critics claim the film is unbalanced, and, yes, Stone’s film is a president’s-eye view of their countries – but when that same view is so routinely distorted or ignored elsewhere, there’s a need for this film, and anyone who doesn’t clock where Stone’s sympathies lie is not concentrating (the triumphant music is a giveaway). Watch, enjoy and start paying attention to the region. This is a spirited and necessary primer, not the last word on its subject.
Friday July 30 2010