You know, there are just some things that shouldn’t be political. Well, at least, that shouldn’t be driven by political agendas. I always figured as a matter of human decency that when something is good, it should be seen as good; when it is bad, it should be seen as bad. There are some things like, say, a car company that refuses to fix a part for less than $1 per part, because they figure that they can save money by paying out personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. In that case, thank you, Roger Moore. Then there are situations like when you buy a hamburger and it should not have a ton of sugar added to the product, thank you, Morgan Spurlock. Now, if you don’t know, I reference what many consider two very decent documentaries, Roger and Me and Super Size Me. I enjoyed both films a great deal. Unfortunately, at least in the case of Roger Moore, many now perceive him as trying to push a political agenda; unfortunately, since in many ways he kind of set the standard for many a documentary film maker. I always enjoyed his humor, even though he moved towards a personal agenda a little too much for me. The one thing I always appreciated about both film makers is their ability to address a subject of serious importance, while at the same time, injecting a little humor into the film.
There is a new film maker on the horizon, one that comes from—of all places—a banking background. His name is Ami Horowitz and he is taking on the United Nations. Many have strong opinions about his subject, yet few understand its seriousness. As serious as this topic is, Horowitz takes it on with facts, the people involved, and good old investigative journalistic approaches, all the while injecting satirical humor that should have fans of Roger Moore appreciating the work, yet, also confused, because many on the political right are praising U.N. Me. On that note, remember how I started off the first paragraph? It is a shame that anyone would draw political lines here, especially with a movie that clearly shows the atrocities being perpetrated by, supported by, and in some ways, funded by, the United Nations. That should and likely will have an impact on Americans who see the film, since America is the host of the United Nations and funds in excess of nine billion dollars a year, an increase of approximately 23% since 2009.
One of the things I seldom comment on in my documentary reviews is the characters on film, but I can’t help but make mention of the on-screen time with Ami Horowitz. This guy is one heck of an entertaining gem. While this is a documentary, he fills the screen. I don’t know how much of what he did was scripted, how many takes it took, but there is so much, including interviews that are just laugh out loud funny. There is a quality in his direction. There are times to be serious and Horowitz does it, yet he goes further; he has a unique way of showing the absurdity of certain serious situations, while at the same time breaking the narrative with either humor or satire. It is here in many ways that he reminds me of Roger Moore, except, where Moore has of recent years come off as more of an angry old man, Horowitz has an innocence about him that should have fans of Moore and Spurlock, among others, enjoying his work.
One of the things I am critical of, especially in regards to documentaries, is the quality of sound, lighting, and scripting. What a pleasure it is to see a movie of such significance take seriously not only the subject matter but also the way it is made. I have been a fan of documentaries for some time and know there is some terrific work out there, yet, truthfully, I haven’t seen as talented a documentary film maker since Morgan Spurlock and his making of Super Size Me. U.N. Me is not only educational, enlightening, and thought provoking, it is also funny, heart breaking, and extremely entertaining. This is the type of documentary that fans of the movies will be able to watch, enjoy, and get something out of, hopefully with a bur up their butts to get them to take seriously the atrocities that are occurring around our world. More on that later. Technically, I was expecting a halfway done documentary, yet this former banker, now turned film maker, has produced one terrific bit of cinema. One that frankly deserves as big of a nationwide opening as anything Roger Moore has put out in the last 20 years.
U.N. Me is an engaging, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-of-it, 93 minute dissection of the atrocities occurring under the watch of the United Nations. Horowitz, as writer and director, explores a variety of areas regarding the operations of the United Nations. In the exploration he lets us know from the outset that the original purpose and some of the work done by the United Nations to this day is good, but he has us wondering what happened to the organization. It is clear there are human rights violations that have occurred under the watchful eye of the United Nations, some of those violations occurring at the hands of the UN troops on the ground, those who oversee them, and many others. From human rights violations to misappropriation of funds, the UN has become a weak shadow of what they were intended to be. Some may say, after seeing this movie, a glaring reversal of what they were intended to be. From Rwanda to Iran, and from Darfur to child sex abuse, one has to ask the question of why this organization continues on in the ways it does, especially on American soil, at the cost it exacts from American citizens, when many of the nations in the United Nations have not just a clear and obvious hatred of the United States, but a clear and obvious willingness to commit human rights violations. While some on the left may choose to point fingers at United States policy, which at times may be justified, ignoring the violations occurring in other countries to the extent that they are is an unconscionable position for one to take. This film is woven with first hand accounts, and amazingly, first hand video support of the violations. It is impossible to argue in favor of the UN policies and procedures in my opinion. At the point one does, I have to wonder, is it because of their hatred of the United States, or because they really don’t care about the issues of abuse that are clearly presented on screen? If this is the intent of Horowitz, he has greatly exceeded my expectations in explaining his point of view.
One of the things the Bible is clear on, despite the misrepresentations over the years by those who oppose Christianity, and yes, many Christians themselves, is that God is a God of justice who expects not just his people but societies to stand up for the poor. Of course for many, how that is done is legitimate debate. Some say the Bible speaks of issues of injustice, poverty, and so forth over 2,000 times. Jesus himself clearly states that the only difference between those who have sincerely followed him and those who don’t is based on what they do, and don’t do for the poor, the homeless, the oppressed etc… To be driven to act based on feelings of power, money, or anything else without taking into consideration the need to help is wrong and not Biblical. To do so out of motives of pride, arrogance, and political power is not just wrong, it is horrific. Some would even say, it is sin which separates us from God. I was in all honesty moved so much that I don’t know whether to call this a review of the film or an editorial. I do know this: it is a shame when we place so much emphasis on the image we present that we ignore the murder with machetes of close to 1,000,000 people in Rwanda, or the situation in which UN forces abandoned approximately 2,500 people they were to protect. It is a shame when we know nothing about the atrocities currently taking place in Darfur, where innocent men, women, and children are being slaughtered, because the image of impartiality was more important to the forces that be at the UN than protecting innocent lives. Then to know that people in positions of power are totally ignoring the things going on that we can clearly see from the footage and on the ground reports, including people like those in charge in the case mentioned in Rwanda. The politicians of the world have taken their positions of power out of arrogance and pride and unfortunately appear to care little about the needs of the people they represent. Of course expecting someone who justifies the murder of innocents to speak truth in situations like these should tell us whether or not we are the fool. Of course we can’t expect these types of people to speak truth. In many situations the UN could have, should have, and maybe in a few instances has been an agency worth supporting, but I have to question, is it now? The Bible talks about everyone standing before God someday; at that time, we need to say we stood up for what was right. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:30, “…anyone who isn’t working with me, is working against me.” As a person of faith, I can’t stand by and support an action, a will, a determination which is clearly working against the very precepts of my faith.
As stated earlier, this review is in many ways more of an editorial. Rarely has film impacted me, made me angrier with what I would call righteous anger than has U.N. Me. Ami Horowitz has exercised brilliance in his ability to get me to contemplate, feel, and express this. Yet, he did it while using humor and all of the other tools at his disposal. I normally rate movies on a scale of 1-10, especially those yet to be released or currently in theaters; I do so due to the fact that you are likely spending your time and money. Let me tell you, I can’t give this one a high enough rating, because it is simply necessary that you see it. I would have a hope and a prayer for this one, just as Moore made a difference with Roger and Me, just as Spurlock made a difference with Super Size Me, my hope and prayer is that Horowitz will make a difference with U.N. Me. God knows, if he does, it will save innocent lives and help bring about justice. For that, how could I give anything except a rare and very deserving 10?