The Corporation
dirs. Abbott, Achbar
Opens Fri Aug 6
Cinema 21

Apparently, people in Nebraska are still lining up around the block to see Fahrenheit 9/11. It's as if because of Michael Moore, Middle America's decided that now it's okay to go see films with some weight, rather than the usual sugar water of summer blockbusters. In Portland, of course, we take it for granted that a great film like The Corporation will be screened and applauded. The citizens of the People's Republic of Portland love them some meaty documentaries, and this one will not disappoint.

Not your usual one-sided hatchet job, The Corporation features interviews so extensive and sweeping that you're never quite sure if you should like the person being interviewed, even if they're funny, and affable. But that dichotomy goes to the heart of what the filmmakers are trying to say in The Corporation: corporations--which, by law, are regarded as people--are psychopaths.

Employing the criteria of the World Health Organization and the psychiatrists' and psychologists' revered Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, the filmmakers present a checklist of psychopathological behavior, then apply those criteria to corporations. Backing up each claim with interviews from inside and outside the corporate world, the filmmakers proceed to check symptom after symptom off of their list. The filmmakers present it all logically and soundly, letting the people from within the corporations and those who monitor them tell their own stories, then arranging the interviews in a way that builds tension--and even a bit of pathos for the corporate folk we are supposed to hate.

As a case study for the pathology of the corporation, the film differs from that other big documentary that people in Nebraska are still lining up for. While Moore's tendency to paint people as either bad or good undermines any interaction with the audience, The Corporation, like a good trial lawyer, simply and confidently presents its case, leaving the verdict in the hands of the jury.