What's the Matter with Kansas? 2010 NR

Amazon Instant Video

(17) IMDb 6.3/10
Available in HD

In 'What's the Matter with Kansas?' a politically active Kansas megachurch splinters, moves to an amusement park, and when that fails, a Best Western motel. Meanwhile, an idealistic farmer revives Kansas' progressive tradition, taking his message all the way to Washington, D.C.

Starring:
Alyssa Barden, Brittany Barden
Runtime:
1 hour 31 minutes

Available in HD on supported devices.

What's the Matter with Kansas?

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Joe Winston
Starring Alyssa Barden, Brittany Barden
Supporting actors Dawn Barden, Matthew Barden, Nicholas Barden, Rob Barden, Tiffany Barden, Brad Bennett, Cindie Bennett, Julie Burkhart, Angel Dillard, Katy Dillard, Reagan Dillard, Rob Dillard, Thomas Etheredge, Hilda Flores, Jose Flores, Terry Fox, Thomas Frank, Mark Gietzen
Studio FilmBuff
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
And there are some real characters and a lot of funny moments!
Me Jane
I am a Kansan, so it was of special interest to me, but I think it really adds depth of understanding to today's political climate in general.
J. Slater
There's something to be said for the monkeys not liking to be told they're monkeys. ** ˝
Robert Beveridge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Me Jane on February 1, 2011
Format: DVD
If you are looking for a film that will make rural, middle American republicans look like idiots, you have the wrong film. Some reviews I read seemed like the reviewer was disappointed and taken off guard by the fact that this film is non judgmental and they couldn't feel superior like they wanted to. I went to a talk back with the filmmakers and the promise to those real Americans that allowed them such close access was that he would only use their words. There would be no sardonic Michael Moore style voiceover coloring the story, only the words and actions of the people themselves. And there are some real characters and a lot of funny moments!
But the brilliant editing of the footage tells a troubling story. I may never be best friends with any of these people, but I was blown away by how my opinion of some of these folks changed by the end of the film. I found it fascinating, funny and eye opening. I would recommend it to Democrat and Republican viewers alike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Deleo on February 24, 2011
Format: DVD
Joe Winston and Laura Cohen take an honest look at the American heartland and let the people and their actions speak for themselves. Finely crafted with an acute awareness for preserving the honesty behind each of the characters, this film reminds us of the documentary genre's responsibility to present reality and leaves the ultimate analysis, judgment and conclusions to be made by the viewer. With a respectful voice, an insightful eye and a political historian's acumen, "What's the Matter With Kansas" gives us a look at a part of America that believes in the greater good, but whose efforts in trying to accomplish it, are ultimately undermining themselves. It is a part of our country that many of us know little about first hand and may even forget that it exists. For all of these reasons and many more, for both its form and its content "What's the Matter with Kansas?" is an important and worthy insight into American politics and history today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Zimmer on January 28, 2011
Format: DVD
This was well worth seeing. It's beautifully filmed and thoughtfully edited. It presents both sides of a very interesting issue without an agenda.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By GayleC on January 28, 2011
Format: DVD
This film was both thoughtfully made and thought-provoking. The filmmakers had extraordinary access to everyday people who openly shared their lives and convictions. A must see for anyone interested in human nature and politics.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Newbury on January 30, 2011
Format: DVD
I just finished watching this film, and am now watching the bonus Q&A.

One questioner mentions something that reviews at other sites also brought up. It seems that many people feel that the title question is not answered by the film.

I do not agree.

I quote from a blurb at another site: "Documentarian Joe Winston takes the premise of Thomas Frank's 2004 book of the same name -- namely that the GOP got working- and middle- class Midwesterners to vote Republican when it wasn't in their fiscal self-interest -- ..."

A number of segments make it clear that the fiscal interests of Kansas are not being served by the Democrats, either. Specifically, I refer to the segments with the Farm Union President, anything mentioning Populist platform and reform, and the 'tornadoes blow, FEMA sucks," segment.

Since neither party is looking to the *fiscal * interests of the average person/working man, the party that is selected is the one that is looking to ANY of their interests: the Republican support of religio-moral issues.

Pretty simple.

This film illustrates it beautifully, and quite subtly.

With apologies to Isaac Asimov, for the misquotation which titles this review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Milne on January 27, 2011
Format: DVD
This is a remarkable documentary. The filmmakers got amazing access to regular (and not so regular!) folks and just let them tell their stories. The filmmakers do not jam their own comments into this to make sure we know what to think. I was so surprised by the people I loved and my heart ached for -- people that I had been sure I would not like because of their beliefs. This film is shocking, hilarious, devastating and just very real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Slater on January 27, 2011
Format: DVD
This is a great documentary. I am a Kansan, so it was of special interest to me, but I think it really adds depth of understanding to today's political climate in general. Plus, it's more accessible than the original book and is thoroughly enjoyable to watch. There's some beautiful photography and some great interviews in there!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Charney on January 17, 2012
Format: DVD
Kansas has long served as a powerful metaphor for our country. When L. Frank Baum first wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, he chose Kansas as his setting for idyll, peace, comfort and safety, a home that there was "no place like." Even earlier, Dodge City became a metaphor for the Wild West, a place of independence and ruthlessness, where a man's mettle would surely be tested and everyone walked around with a careless swagger. As Kansas reached statehood and matured into the Union, it was long a hot-bed of radical, populist and socialist ideas. Kansas, considered a center of early 20th century Progressivism, was also a metaphor for the hard-working individual with a social conscience.

Today Kansas still offers itself up as metaphor, but now the echoes are of an ultra-conservative, religion-centric inflexibility built from such images as the Westboro Baptist Church and the Dover school district, the former infamous for its aggressive anti-gay tactics and the latter for its ignominious attempt to force religion into the school district's science curriculum.

Kansas has changed, and so have we all.

What's the Matter with Kansas?, a documentary by Laura Cohen and Joe Winston (based on the 2004 book by Thomas Frank) washes the screen with those metaphors in beautiful hues, stark contrasts and--often--with probing insight and irony. Following the paths of several key figures across political, personal and religious landscapes, the filmmakers draw a surrealistic portrait of a changed Kansas, one where social issues determine political affiliations, sometimes in direct contrast with an individual's own interests.

The movie doesn't preach: there is no narration, no specific storyline, no "Michael Moore" moment designed to get us all whipped up.
Read more ›
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