Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause(New Video, 4.26.2005)
MIT professor Noam Chomsky has become the intellectual rival to the neocons with his beliefs on 9/11 and media manipulation. This documentary follows his lecture tour of Canada on the eve of the United States invasion of Iraq. He speaks in venues ranging from a basketball gym to a concert hall to a student lounge. Chomsky talks to the crowd and is oblivious to the cameras. We're given a "greatest hits" package from Noam's talks -- the segments don't build upon each other into a big revelation -- and occasionally the topics seem randomly picked. It feels like an infomercial for "the complete Canadian lecture series."
Director Will Pascoe doesn't engage Noam. There's no one-on-one. We don't see Noam when he isn't "on" until the end of the film when we get a few very brief glimpses. We don't get a sense of his journey across Canada either. We hear from Noam's wife that he reads numerous papers and magazines each morning, but there's no footage of Noam tearing through that morning's periodicals. In addition, we don't get a sense of how that day's news reflected in his speeches.
While much of what Noam says is important and enlightening, Pascoe undercuts the message with bland visual choices. This feels like a video production you'd see on public access television. The final 10 minutes are particularly weak, bogged down with too many heads talking about Noam. I think Pascoe padded out the piece to hit 74 minutes. He kills the momentum and ultimately makes this an unsatisfying exercise. Rather than end with a prophetic vision from Noam, the film just whimpers away.
The bonus feature is 38 minutes of a press conference with Chomsky that expands on some of the themes brought up in Rebel. Although there is some interesting material here, if you're curious about Noam Chomsky, this probably isn't the best place to start. -- Joe Corey