Liberty USA Alan Handel

Liberty USA Alan Handel
There is something a little too smug and patronizing about a Canadian documentary that aims mainly to point out what a big, shining lie the myth of American liberty is. If it was at all a challenge this might have been somewhat respectable but if we're being frank, liberty doesn't exist, so pointing out the hypocrisy of a self-proclaimed state of such is like shooting tuna in a barrel: you can do it but no one will be particularly impressed. The gist of Liberty USA is examining American identity through small communities - conveniently named "Liberty" - across the nation. Each town boasts its own political issues, be it post-911 racism, teen pregnancy, illegal immigration or global aid work, while struggling to stay true to defining American statutes. Interviews with abstinence- and God-preaching teachers, as juxtaposed with JFK's declaration of separating church and state, passive-aggressively point out said hypocrisy, while influential men with John Wayne posters in their offices speak for themselves. Truth be told, the use of archival footage, both news and entertainment, proves clever and relevant throughout the documentary, if slightly condescending. The issue is mainly that these stories of inequality and human struggles are loosely tied together, creating an overall feeling of disorganization and a concern of relevance. Sure, the tale of the Middle Eastern boy losing his arms, only to be "rescued" by American aid workers, is interesting and touching but is the struggle for "liberty" enough to connect it to a small town of Republican rednecks that just want to get drunk and shoot their guns? Perhaps that's irrelevant. While condescending and lacking focus, Liberty USA is certainly well-edited, clipping along at a solid pace, offering up only the most pertinent details without repetition, which is something. No supplements are included with the DVD release. (E1)