In one of the bonus features, the filmmakers revealed they didn’t tell Wichita that the name of their film was What’s the Matter With Kansas?. Thomas Frank wrote a revealing book under that name and this is the adaptation. The book and this film looks at Kansas and its politics and tried to figure out the radical change that has occurred.
The state used to lean more towards liberalism but in the past few years the state has become more fundamentalist conservatism. Director Joe Winston does an excellent job of letting everybody tell their own story without pushing his own agenda. There is no narrator and nothing seems like it’s being exploitive. Even when they visit the creationist museum, the ones controlling the scene are the people in the museum.
Everyone has their chance to talk as well. There are plenty of conservative members who express their opinions as well as a lot of people who are upset about the way Bush’s economic plan worked out for them. Whatever agenda the movie has, it allows enough point of views that this really is a well-rounded discussion.
The blending of religion and politics is a fascinating subject for a movie. The way certain issues become more than just black and white, but good and evil. People can’t just respectfully disagree on an issue because a political question is now being seen through the eyes of a higher mission.
This movie was made a handful of years ago before the Tea Party movement really grew in numbers. Due to the respectful tone of the movie, this is a perfect building block for some great questions about the nature and polarizing effects of politics today. This strong inability to compromise on any issue and demonizing those who disagree with you is something that is hurting America.
The DVD has a lot of good extras on it. There is a spiffy Q&A with Frank, Winston and producer Laura Cohen where they go into detail about their technique of the film. The three of them also have a commentary track. There are also extended scenes that are worth watching as well as deleted scenes. I wish there was some short featurette looking back at the people
Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 3.5 Yaps