In these joyous, yet politically divisive times, we turn to the arts for insight…here, specifically movies. Agree with the subject matter or not, good political films have something important to say. But, the great ones are not lazy in the way they say it. One could never use the word “lazy” in Janek Ambros’ short film, Money Fascism and Some Sort of Acid.
Ambros’ film is an anthology of five short films examining the history of communism and capitalism in the western world. Money Fascism and Some Sort of Acid opens with the short, “Closing Bell”—a frantic discussion of the market crash of 2008 from the perspective of a market trader wondering how he can make money off of the crisis as the Bailout Bill is being debated in Congress. Told at a blistering speed using intense strobe-like effects, our stockbroker goes through every possible solution and consequence as the government steps in to bail out big business.
Next is “May 15th in Paris”—a short film shot in black-and-white French noir…if that’s a thing. The soothing voice of Nathalie Simille describes the rise of the French populist leader Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, who gained power with support from the silent poor and middle class only to become a fascist dictator, once he tasted absolute power. His story is told using contemporary images of French citizens but seen through an old film filter from the 1930s and 40s.
“…examining the history of communism and capitalism in the western world.”
“Red, Blue and Purple” shows a contemporary young man inundated with capitalist and communist propaganda films from the 40s and 50s. It’s real footage of actual films from that time and feels like it’s being debated by the Cleaver family. The red communist footage soon blends with the blue capitalist footage creating a fascinating visual effect.
“Son of Man” is a quick sketch based on Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor. Set in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia, it creates a situation akin to Jesus being interrogated by the Gestapo.
Lastly is “Brexit,” where Ambros digs up the recorded speech of post-war Winston Churchill waxing on about the creation of the United States of Europe. It includes his vision that one day, all of the European nations will band together in peace and unity as countries begin developing nuclear weapons.
You may not like the politics of Money Fascism and Some Sort of Acid. That is if you can figure out its actual politics, but what the movie does so well gets you to think about where we are today as a society and people—not just of the United States, but globally. Ambros hits on themes of the threat of fascism and how these leaders may not be the ones you think they are. He also lifts the veil on the fragility of democracy today and how our individual voices are being silenced. He also goes into just how complicated our current economic system is and how, in his words, describes us as being f**cked.
Politics aside, Money Fascism and Some Sort of Acid is a visually exciting film to watch and is undoubtedly going to play with your brain, questioning the things you believe in…on both sides of the aisle. The questions posed are worth answering, and therefore, the film is compelling and worth watching.
"…you may not like the politics...That is if you can figure out its actual politics..."