(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: ETHOS: A TIME FOR CHANGE is a fast-paced 69 minutes filled with charges of conspiracies of the rich and powerful in corporations and government in their plan to take freedom from the masses and plunge the world into a chaos of high prices and global warming. Woody Harrelson is host and the voice of writer and director Pete McGrain. There may be a lot of foolishness in the particulars presented, but McGrain may well be right about where the modern world is leading. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

"The object of this documentary is to look at the flaws in our systems that allow [bad] things to happen and the mechanisms that actually work against us and to show you a very simple but powerful way that we can actually change the world we live in." So says writer and director Pete McGrain as spoken by Hollywood's great voice of reason ... Woody Harrelson? ETHOS is a staccato discharge of conspiracy charges against the common person putting more wealth and power into the hands of a small number of very wealthy and extremely powerful world manipulators. It only vaguely tells us who these people are, but they seem to be the upper echelons of a corporate-government alliance. Among the claims is that the Rockefellers knew ahead of time that the September 11 attacks were coming and would be used to consolidate the power of the government to control the people and steal their rights. All these individual conspiracies, each damnable in itself, are just part of a bigger and more global conspiracy to control a population which will have given up all its rights for promised security from invented threats.

The thing is, I like my conspiracies with a little more evidence than McGrain gives himself time to present. He delivers a huge list of charges and backs them up with testimony of famous authors and quotes from famous people. He has Henry Ford railing against the power of financiers. Funny, I had always thought that as an expert on international affairs Ford knew a little about how to make a factory work and not much beyond that. His views of the international scene were strongly colored by his hatred and distrust of the members of one particular religion.

One piece of the documentary is devoted to politicians who flip- flop on their position or claims. We have Bill Clinton first denying that he had sexual relations with Lewinsky and then later admitting it. John McCain first saying that he thought gay marriage should be allowed and later saying that he did not think gay marriage should be legal. I am now convinced that politicians may contradict themselves and sometimes their opinions on issues actually change over time. So what? But I do not think that McGrain really minds having the viewer unconvinced of his points. He presents a shower of conspiracy theories from the Federal Reserve's power to manipulate the economy anonymously to Monsanto's part in poisoning our food. Some of his charges may be based on fact or even be true. But it is hard to tell which ones.

This film is a Chamber of Possible Horrors. A staccato listing of many possible conspiracies of varying degrees of credibility challenges us with the statement that there are real conspiracies. The suggestions have got to come fast because it is all packed into a short 69-minute film, and there are a lot of conspiracies and scary situations to get through. And no doubt some of what McGrain is suggesting is indeed true, and no doubt some of it is absolute balderdash. McGrain gives little evidence beyond quotes and questionable testimony. Before the viewer has time to think about one claim, McGrain has presented two more. What he presents lies somewhere in the twilight zone between the Washington Post and the Weekly World News.

And what is this solution for changing the world? That is something of an anti-climax, though one most thoughtful people would endorse. Even I do. It is to spend your money wisely. I think he means spend it for the good of yourself, your children, and the world. The consumer is all-powerful, because it is money that makes the system work. The way we choose to spend our money can change the world. That may well be true and I would endorse his conclusion more than his arguments for that conclusion. It would be an irony if he turns out overly optimistic about the viability of that as a weapon to be marshaled. There may just be too many of us who are too apathetic to be convinced.

Even if McGrain were wrong on most of his charges, he is probably right on a few, and that is a sobering thought. The question is which ones. I give this film a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. ETHOS: A TIME FOR CHANGE will be released on DVD on February 7, 2012.

Film Credits:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2012 Mark R. Leeper