The Corporation

Based on the book by Joel Bakan, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, this 2003 documentary is an exciting, stimulating, but bruisingly bumpy ride. Its jittery juxta­positions of found footage (commercials, educational films), animations, and interviews with advocates and enemies of corporate culture distract from the creators' underlying argument even as they attempt to engage it. But central to the film, directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, is Bakan's argument itself, and it is a devastating one. We learn a brief history of the corporation as an institution: how it was brought into existence as a modest legal device to allow groups of individuals to engage in business for limited purposes and the collective good, then transformed into a kind of artificial individual in its own right, with privileges, responsibilities, and advantages of its own. Very well, says Bakan; if the corporation can be considered an individual, what sort of individual are we talking about? How does this individual behave in relation to other individuals and the world around it? If a corporation were your neighbor, what kind of neighbor would it be? Put that way, the answer is astonishingly obvious. The corporation, psychologically considered, is a nutcase, a dangerous, irresponsible, antisocial maniac—a psychotic, in fact. (NR) ROGER DOWNEY

Fri., July 27, 7 p.m., 2012

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