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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Movie Blew Me Away
There are very few movies that warrant the blowing of me away. Enough about me.

At first glance, this movie might appear a bit erudite. Go right ahead and move past that - if you listen carefully, you will hear scintillating brilliance and dry urbane wit that rivals Monty Python's Quest for Holy Grail.

Of course this is not a comedy. But sometimes,...
Published on March 25, 2009 by Happy Helper : )

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Political Musical? - Yep, but with a real purpose behind the humor
I watched the DVD with no preconceptions as to what I was going to see except that there were a lot of well-known folks listed on the box as appearing in the film. Walter Cronkite, Senator (and NBA star) Bill Bradley, Director Robert Altman, author Kurt Vonnegut, activist/singer Pete Seeger and Disney Chair Mike Medavoy were there. Yet this was a small independent film...
Published on December 21, 2008 by Steve Ramm


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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Movie Blew Me Away, March 25, 2009
By 
This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
There are very few movies that warrant the blowing of me away. Enough about me.

At first glance, this movie might appear a bit erudite. Go right ahead and move past that - if you listen carefully, you will hear scintillating brilliance and dry urbane wit that rivals Monty Python's Quest for Holy Grail.

Of course this is not a comedy. But sometimes, dry can be humorful in an incredulous, eye-opening sort of way.

One of the things that absolutely floored me is how revealing this movie is. You will see people who are the real deal (extraordinary people from powerful places and top positions in the stratosphere of the global elite) say astounding, unbelievable things. And, they mean every word. It's mindblowing.

Don't be surprised if you say to yourself, "Did I hear correctly?" "No, I couldn't have heard that - let me rewind..." "They're joking, right?" "This is a put on... isn't it?" "Are they impersonators? Dub-ins?" "Are they who they say they are?" "How did the movie director get them into this movie?" "Astounding!" "I can't believe it!"

Your head will swivel. You will definitely have to watch this movie over and over again to savor every enlightening moment, every little zinging nuance.

One reason is, because, there's so much depth amongst the flashes of light and dark. It's mesmerizing. Small, simple little phrases here and there that have the weight of dark matter.

There's this quote from Voltaire - look for it. It's extraordinarily timely, considering today's economic climate... It involves "corporatism."

One beauty of this movie is that it allows you to draw your own conclusions. It provides information. You provide the thinking.

The Acting and Actors...

Great acting by two student actors who play Yale grads. One of the actors is actually a Harvard grad - how funny is that? You KNOW there was a dig in there, some way...

Another student actor was from Princeton, another, Stanford. I wonder if any were from... Yale. After all, we're talking about the political, affluent, power elite... would any Yalie participate in this most delightful movie?

Other ways this movie rrrocks...

The script is perfection, the acting, superb, actors, well chosen, the music, most excellent, and the actual real people who played themselves - stupendous.

The movie opens with a with a surreal exaggeration of an Ivy Leaguey gathering in the garden. The stage is set with verbal poetry in motion. It's like pastel vellummy old paper, crispy and faded at the corners. Dry. Jaded. Ennui'd. Just the right touches to take the Ivy League theme a touch over the top, and yet not.

And the soundtrack and music... worth putting on in the background while you're studying or working. You know how classical music increases work production? The music in this movie does that for me even though it's not classical.

This movie is a MUST HAVE as you will most definitely want to watch it over and over again. You'll see things you totally missed, every time. This movie is... aBUNdant. Overflowing with meaning and discovery.

If there ever was a movie for a lifetime, this is it. Also check out Half Moon Street with Sigourney Weaver.

I hope I'm allowed to say that!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Political Musical? - Yep, but with a real purpose behind the humor, December 21, 2008
This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
I watched the DVD with no preconceptions as to what I was going to see except that there were a lot of well-known folks listed on the box as appearing in the film. Walter Cronkite, Senator (and NBA star) Bill Bradley, Director Robert Altman, author Kurt Vonnegut, activist/singer Pete Seeger and Disney Chair Mike Medavoy were there. Yet this was a small independent film. Were they being roped into being on camera as part of a publicity stunt? Well, yes.. and no. Director John Kirby's film is sort of like a Michael Moore documentary in that it certainly has a specific agenda but, though the premise is truly fictional - two graduating Yale seniors head off in different directions, one working for a big investment firm and the other working in social service. With the help of columnist Lewis Lapham, they also get to visit and interview the above named celebrities and politicians asking the question: Who is the current American ruling class? The musical part of the "mockumentary" is composed of some clever songs to bind the actual interviews. The students were real students but their quest for the answers was a "set up".

This film apparently played many Film Festivals and I can see why it was an audience favorite. No it won't win any Academy Award nominations, like Moore's films, but it's certainly worth watching.

There are no special features on it, which would have added to the value of the DVD.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see, if you love democracy., February 26, 2009
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This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
This is my favorite movie now. I watched it at least 5 times, learning something new each time. With such a sensitive subject, it's subtle, with clues everywhere, from its product placement of books, flashing of portfolios to even song lyrics. I think if you watch this movie very carefully & read the book below (see link), you could be awakened.

The Secrets of the Federal Reserve (Hardcover)The Secrets of the Federal Reserve
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre. Sellouts who shill for bankers or become banksters ..., September 14, 2014
Mediocre.
Sellouts who shill for bankers or become banksters themselves in order that they can then later indulge their humanitarian interests.
The movie fails to honestly reveal the true criteria for access to the ruling class,
which every aspiring Jewish, Indian, and Chinese minority family in the Northeast and California knows and strives for-
get into one of the private or public Ivy League schools and then intermarry with the existing ruling class.
If not and you manage to make it anyway on your own merit or luck, you'll be considered second class and open to mockery.
(Howard Baker went to Tulane, so it's open season on him as if he's a war criminal while Henry Kissinger, who is seen eerily throughout the movie on every wall of every elite is not mentioned though he be a real war criminal- Harvard graduate)
The cream of the ruling class are those blessed by admission to Oxford through Rhodes Scholarship,
and this cements the Anglo influences and interests in the US, while the anglophile US elites fall in place behind them.
This is creepy since the English are in a significant way anointing the leaders of the US ruling class by their scholarships.
The New England WASPs may be washed out, but their masters in London never disappeared.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's actually fun to watch. Great use of music. Truly an original., December 20, 2009
By 
Stickman (Virtually everywhere.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
What a rare movie. What a great movie. Educational and entertaining at the same time. Saw it on Link TV 2 times and was stuck like glue both times. So I'm buying it to watch it again and again. (There is a lot of info in this movie.) If you go into it with an open mind, you'll come out a better person. I strongly recommend this to everyone. Great use of music too. (It is a musical documentary after all.) Have the remote handy when you watch it, you'll probably find yourself rewinding it many times, "Did I just hear what I thought I heard?" It's actually fun to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of the rich versus others, February 21, 2013
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This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
A satirical look at the life of the rich (with so many advantages) versus the middle & lower class. I liked the comparison of 2 college graduates and how their lives are influenced in so many ways by their class. It shows an undercover reporter trying to make it as a waitress (she can't). It is college level media due to the jargon and ironies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is awesome, December 15, 2014
I especially enjoyed the lugubrious 'Nickled and Dimed' lament of the low-wage hois polloi. I've worked a high-paying tech job and also worked about 5 low-wage jobs at various times of my life. I had to work at a movie theater and grocery store in my 30s because I relocated rather naevely following an imploded startup business venture. I was so tired by the end of the day, I would just listen to the radio and take a kind of catnap before driving home. Although I worked full time and shared a tiny apartment with a musician, I lived very simply (grocery store would give us free eggs from cartons where an egg broke for example), but I still went further into debt, living off a credit card. I managed to pay most of it, but there was always an ever-creeping balance I call the downward poverty spiral. I couldn't get credit assistance because they require 10k in debt, and I was no where close to that.

At any rate, sorry this review became a rant about poverty. This movie does a very good of demonstrating exactly this effect. It also demonstrates privilege, concentration of power and how the banks basically run everything and own democracy, even to the extent that the media is gamed as well.

Although the movie is not particularly enlightening if you haven't explored these topics before in other documentaries such as 'Inequality for all', it does a good job of pointing out the two competing attitudes about money and the drive to obtain it. Kurt Vonnegut was questioned and he said to do something virtuous, suggesting perhaps that this automatically results in fortune, which is a terrible joke if that is what he meant. I see virtue every day but it's mostly thankless. This is again repeated in the 'Nickled and Dimed' bit and I love what the waitressing essayist had to say about where the 'real' contributers to society are: the thankless working poor.

Walter Conkite was also interviewed and said something to the effect of 'people should pursue a position within the ruling class because it validates the ruling classes influence over democracy'. I think what he was trying to say could be put succinctly that 'capitalism works' -- that the pusuit of excess somehow makes everything work.

What I think is funny is that if you apply this principle to say, the interstate system, I can assure you that all it does is make everyone think you're a jerk...and in some rare cases in california, shoot you in the face out of rage.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new here. The usual far left talking points. A mythical "ruling class" runs everything, despite no evidence., November 27, 2014
Well, if you like listening to empty liberal talking points -- you'll love this. Otherwise, not so much.

What a disappointment. Once I realized Lewis Lapham was the host, I was hoping for insight, given how good I thought his "Money and Class in America", 1988, was. As a lead-in, I'll point out that two points Lapham made in his classic 1988 book were:
1). Everyone, regardless of where they are on the economic ladder, seems to believe that if they just made twice as much as their current income, that their economic problems would be solved. 2). That people never seem to feel they have "enough", and endlessly try to "keep up with the Joneses". He gave examples of rich people making themselves miserable because their (1980's prices) $1.5 million entrance foyer was "tacky" and "embarrassing". I found insight here, but perhaps I was just young. At least it taught me to worry NOT AT ALL about the "Joneses" on any level.

So what did we "learn" in the film? I'll give some specifics, instead of the generalizations most of the positive reviews centered on.

We learned that (gasp) big media corporations like the New York Times are subject to constraints from Wall Street (which expects profits) as well as their desire to report the news responsibly. Thus, advertising revenue is a major concern. (How horrible! As though the capital to run a major news organization appeared by magic.)

We learned (as we always hear from the far left) that it's impossible to live on a low wage job. Consistent with left wing punditry, we heard NOTHING about education, self improvement, moving up the ladder, personal responsibility (like saving), etc. as possible ways to grow OUT of minimum wage jobs, of course. And then we learned that people with low wage jobs are all very skilled and the high wage people are all living off their work. Naturally, we heard NOTHING about all the taxes the highly paid people pay. Notice how the big push for a magical minimum wage of $15 is roughly double the current minimum wage -- point number one in "Money and Class" above.

We learned that it's not possible to do well financially, as well as to do good. One of the capitalists Lewis complained about was Bill Gates. He lamented that if Gates (who supposedly had as much wealth as the bottom 40% of Americans) was asked about his wealth, he'd say he didn't have enough. Funny how that works though, since Gates is now giving away almost his entire fortune via his charitable organization -- but for the far left, such giving is NEVER enough. Since per IMDB the film was released in 2007, it's interesting how DISINGENUOUS this is, considering (per Wiki) that the foundation was formed in 1997, and Gates pledged a huge proportion of his net worth from the beginning. It also was never mentioned that Gates just built a company that traded software for money. No coercion, bombs, etc. were used.

We learned that if whining were sand, the far left would really get somewhere since they could tip the evil capitalist system of heavy rocks over with all the sand they could produce over the ages. (Sadly, whining doesn't produce anything).

In the alternate ending, we learned that the time will come when capitalism, banks, etc. will go away. One of the kids proclaims how they now "own their home". Odd that the fact that without capital, loans, etc. -- the building blocks to produce things like modern day home ownership for the lower and middle class -- that such homes wouldn't be produced. (Ah, but the far left can never be bothered with financial details -- they're too busy planning how to spend other peoples' money, after all).

...

Apparently things never change. If they actually want to truly change something, I'd suggest the far left work for truly better educational standards and opportunities for people of all ages. As a capitalist who earned his way with lots of hard work and paid lots of taxes, I'd support that, if the programs had standards for people remaining in them. (More solid wage earners and less need for social support programs would be good for everyone). However, since whining is easier, I won't hold my breath.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Remarkable--Provokes & Entertains, December 10, 2009
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This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
This DVD is superb and also subversive. I doubt that the "stars" in this movie, particularly James Baker, Bill Bradley, Howard Brown, and Larry Summers, really knew what they were getting into, since their words--and their bland denials--ring so false in this context.

I put the film in while trying to deal with Microsoft's latest "update" that cost me half the morning, and I recommend it very strongly as a Christmas present or for classrooms and book clubs.

My notes:

+ A Peabody, whose ancestors came on "the boat" and also founded Groton, laments that whereas all the leaders used to pass through Groton, now there is no real "source." I am reminded of Lee Iacocca's Where Have All the Leaders Gone?.

+ Hedge fund visits basically boils all ownership in America down to four banks, and later in the film we learn that six multinational control almost all "content."

+ We are specifically told by a financial journalist that the concentration of wealth in America is now back to 1929 levels (this was in 2006 or so, talk about a signal for the future depression!

+ Although I think of myself as a Reagan Republican (and Libertarian) I never liked his use of the military to break the unions, and now I am very troubled by the discussion of the 1970's as the era in which big money broke the backs of the unions. See also State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence.

+ Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America makes an appearance here and talks about how the underclass is living in a "constant state of emergency." This is heart-breaking and precisely the kind of thing that the White House and Congress refuse to address.

+ The discussion of the Council on Foreign Relations )CFR) established $500,000 as the minimal annual income for entry into the outer circle, and I suspect it is really closer to $2-3 million these days, the dollar being worth half what it was in the 1970's.

+ The cameo appearances by both the elites and the counter-elites (e.g. Howard Zinn) have been brilliantly orchestrated. As Joe Nye and others speak I think "best of the servant class."

+ The movie specifically addresses the question of war as profit, and I am bemused by the straight faces of the ostensible elite (actually just the top rung of the major domo line) as they deny thing. See as a minimum War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier and The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World.

+ Hodding Carter is interesting to me as he talks about how Lucifer always takes one on a tour of the mountain top, and then concludes that if you go into the elite you must on the one hand forget most of what you learned about doing good for others; and on the other hand, will die, not wishing for more money, but for having done your time differently.

+ The East Coast portion of the movie ends on the note of "doing well is not the same as doing good."

+ In Texas we hear about how the national interest will always remove all moral obstacles to self-interest, and with James Baker and others, explore the bomb-profit index. See also Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

+ Great line: "You can't fight City Hall, but you can buy it." In fairness to those doing the buying, my sense is that those being bought are the ones asking for the money.

The movie ends with a very inspiring walk down a country lane and the discussion of how the banks are like rocks in a big basket, and the other basket is being filled by teaspoons of sand, much of it leaking, as the many race against the few to achieve a balance of power. Powerful. See also The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Revised and Updated 5th Anniversary Edition: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits and A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Both Zinn and Perkins are in this movie, the one wish I would have of any future issuance is that it include text showing the name of the person, half of them were NOT easily recognized in the single use of their name verbally.

The alternate ending includes a childrens' chorus from Camp Thoreau, and a Demopublican such as discussed in Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny and my own Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography).

You can find all of my reviews more easily accessed within 98 categories (e.g. Democracy, Pathology of Power, Secrecy and the Politics of Secrecy) at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, all with links leading back to Amazon, but vastly easier to exploit than here.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A THOUGH PROVOKING, UNIQUE, AND ENTERTAINING POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY, January 21, 2009
By 
This review is from: American Ruling Class (DVD)
This new film by director John Kirby is a truly one of a kind social commentary. As a documentary its style is completely unique, mixing documentary, mockumentary, socio-political essay, and musical!

The story follows two young men through a series of encounters that illuminates the true nature of America's social class structure. While one is ready to buy in and join the wealthy "ruling" class of America, the other strives to hold on to his ideals and live a life that is meaningful in the way HE wishes it to be.

These personal narratives are intercut with interviews with prominent American cultural figures such as ROBERT ALTMAN, BILL BRADELY, KURT VONNEGUT, former Secretary of State JAMES BAKER III, HOWARD ZINN, WALTER CRONKITE, and many others, each of whom offers their own unique perspective on how our country is organized into a class that holds most of the money and most of the power and another class consisting of EVERYBODY ELSE. And just to make things interesting, musical interludes occasionally break up the action, adding new dimensions to the meaning of the film, as well as adding to the overall entertainment it offers.

I bought this DVD on a whim, as I am a very big documentary fan, and I have to say that I couldn't be happier with the purchase. You should definitely CHECK IT OUT.
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American Ruling Class
American Ruling Class by John Kirby (DVD - 2009)
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