Waiting For NESARA:
"If we're not going to be on the planet, then why do we need the money?"
That's a question from a more sober-minded member of the short-lived Open Mind Forum, a group with some pretty wild beliefs that sprang up around the turn of the 21st century. Chief among those beliefs is the idea that prior to leaving office United States President Bill Clinton signed legislation for something known as NESARA, the National Economic Stabilization and Recovery Act. While NESARA started as a legitimate (if not somewhat naive) proposal in the late '80s, the idea gained a weird life of its own thanks to the Internet. Tied in amongst more plebian notions of universal debt forgiveness and the abolition of the IRS, Open Mind Forum (and other) NESARA believers expect Jesus Christ to ride in on a UFO and eventually take his seat as leader of the free world, thus vanquishing the forces of darkness and exposing George Bush as an evil alien reptile.
Intrepid filmmaker Zeb Haradon (Elevator Movie) clearly has a lot to work with in his stunning documentary Waiting For NESARA, he couldn't have picked a better topic, as this stuff simply writes itself. In fact, it's such an overpowering topic that we find it hard to tackle critiquing the movie. As documentaries go, this 77-minute-long feature has some draggy moments and sports production values that aren't out of reach for pretty much all of you reading this review. Haradon's ability to get his subjects to open up completely, (or perhaps their need to open up) his sense that this was a subject that would make for compelling viewing, and his oversight of the editing process (the trump card in any documentarian's hand) are all factors in the ultimate success or failure of this documentary. For all those reasons, he's got a sure winner for Fortean scholars, lovers of human nature, and anyone who likes it weird. You can't watch Waiting For NESARA and leave unmoved - even if your personal reaction is characterized by much stifling of laughter. Haradon, for what it's worth, doesn't explicitly reveal his hand - does he believe these people? I'd be very surprised if he did - let's just say he gives them plenty of rope.
Circumstantially, Haradon scores on a number of brilliant visual jokes - juxtapositions let's say - that are too good to pass up. The fact that these things aren't contrivances but actually just the sad reality of Open Mind Forum meetings makes them all the more poignant and trenchant. From confused diners looking on in shock when the Forum is forced to meet in the corner of a restaurant, to NESARA patron Saint Germaine sharing 'altar' space with Colonel Sanders, it seems like the Forum can't get a break. These manifestations of bland consumerism meeting bemused disbelief, however, are the legs on which Waiting For NESARA stands, and they're sturdy.
This story is so compelling because it combines so many things that Americans in particular obsess about every day. As Open Mind Forum leader Jim frequently asks his small audience, who in their right mind wouldn't want all debts forgiven, the IRS to go away, and large 'prosperity checks' to arrive in the mailbox? Why, it's everyone's dream! And if Clinton signed it into law, then what's the hold-up? This is where NESARA gets tricky, and makes for compelling (if not forehead-slapping) viewing.
It seems as if the whole NESARA ball got rolling in Utah, stronghold of the Mormon faith. Like Open Minders, Mormons are known to have some pretty wild beliefs. Then again, what religion doesn't flout the bizarre and supernatural? It just depends on what side of the fence you're on, right? So, even though plenty of Open Mind followers appear to be poor, disenfranchised whack-jobs, who are we to judge? Belief in the unseen is sort of a core element of being human, (possibly one of the reasons why the human animal is so messed up) and as Haradon seems to imply it just depends how far along that scale you are as to what theory you'll buy into.
The NESARA folks (if the whole thing didn't actually start as an out-of-control Internet hoax) ultimately got the timing thing wrong, however, as freakishly distorted pay-per-minute phone messages from various saints and hybrid aliens constantly push the date of NESARA's enactment further into the future. I certainly am looking forward to those 'prosperity' checks (though as one interviewee points out, when St. Germaine's billions start flooding the market inflation might become a problem). However, as Open Mind leader Jim points out, my negative thoughts on the matter might be hampering our progress towards divinity. In this case I need to let the Violet Flame Of Transmutation turn my frown upside down.
Presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 ratio, NESARA won't be winning Best Cinematography awards. Shooting looks to have been done on consumer-grade digital video, with everything that implies. Lighting is often harsh, distorting and washed out, making some Open Minders look freakishly pale ... even green? Metering makes the wall behind Jim (speaking at the KFC) seem to disappear and reappear (or is it the aliens doing that?) I'm sorry, I'm being rude. Point is, though shot in bog-standard docu style, (but with some nice framing and those incidences of juxtaposition) NESARA is as cheap and basic as they come. Doesn't hurt too much, though.
No great shakes audio, either. This is one that would sound fine coming through average internal television speakers (but it was nice to note a song from Portland's own 3 Leg Torso in the soundtrack). All interview subjects are clearly audible, but when Jim is talking to the dozen or so people at Open Mind Forum meetings, sometimes their questions are barely audible. That's about it.
No extras other than Previews of some other Pathfinder Films releases.
Zeb Haradon's documentary about some folks whose beliefs have to be heard to be believed - and trust me, you probably won't believe them - tears through budget constraints to present a ferociously entertaining (and ultimately kind-of depressing) look at a particular boundary of human thought. Behind sexy, sensationalistic attributes (aliens, free money, Jesus-in-a-spaceship) lie questions about how our world - the odd wars we fight, the indignities we heap upon many of us in the name of progress - could even create the need to believe in this stuff, not to mention the ability to believe it. You don't have to be a documentary fan to enjoy Waiting For NESARA, you just need to have an open mind. That said, this grubby, extras-free release rides a fine line between Recommended and Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com