Mr. Movie

'Burma VJ' inspires, frightens

For those who didn’t catch the showing of Burma VJ at Battelle Film Club last Friday night, the film is worth renting on DVD.

It is available at certain outlets and is worth a view.

Movie critics hate reviewing documentaries. How do you review someone’s opinion? Points about camera technique, editing or the quality of the narration and writing are valid. But most documentaries are a point of view, and any criticism of the film usually lands on that point of view.

I caught Burma VJ just before writing this review. It is about freedom.

The film is as scary as it is inspiring. It also makes it nearly impossible not to get on a soapbox and preach. We’re a couple of weeks from an election and in the throes of the final push of self-absorbed politicians trying to get elected or re-elected.

Most are doing one of two things: focusing on themselves, how wonderful they are and talking about all the great things they’ve done or are about to do to correct this mess or that, or they’re bashing an opponent.

Bashing is more common than self-praising.

Our nation is polarized. Party takes precedent over common sense. Any group forming like a Tea Party or a gay group or war protesters that disagrees with our often narrow political view is ostracized.

These days, it seems we have little tolerance for the views of those different than ourselves. We’re not even willing to sit down and discuss those differences and acknowledge those issues where we have much in common.

Groups focused on self-interests are involved in the races, too. Then, there is this ballot measure or that to push or defeat. On it goes.

Meanwhile, a mostly clueless citizenry elects these politicians or passes/defeats a ballot measure based on 30-second soundbites.

As an electorate, we’re generally under-educated on issues or ill-informed.

Combine the usual election season negativity with the reality of economic decay, social decay, education decay, infrastructure decay and it has many of us thinking our nation is heading quickly down the proverbial tube.

We so take our freedom for granted. And we have no clue how bad it can really get when those freedoms deteriorate. Proof of point is found in Burma VJ. The people of Burma — or Myanmar — are willing to die for their freedom.

Burma is ruled by a cruel military junta. For the last 40-plus years, the people have longed for freedom. From time-to-time they give it a shot. Burma VJ documents the latest uprising. In 2007 thousands marched in the streets. Some were tortured and others killed for their passion for freedom.

The government of Myanmar has outlawed cameras, so the revolution is documented by fearless, self-designated “reporters” in a loose confederation known as the Democratic Voice of Burma.

Narrated by “Joshua,” the story runs from the beginning of the insurgency to the devastating cyclone that hit the nation in May 2008. The must-see 2010 Oscar-nominated film is detailed, dramatic and compelling.

Joshua’s reporters shoot the video and shuttle it out of the country where it gets a few brief minutes on international TV news networks. It's soon forgotten. What happened in 2007 and is likely still happening ought not to be forgotten.

While our pampered politicians pontificate, brave men and women in nations that aren’t “free” are risking everything hoping to have just a taste of what we so blithely accept as a given. For the people of Burma, their effort and their passion for freedom deserves to be seen.

Help them. See this one and remember.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Not rated, probably a heavy PG-13.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.