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Review: ReGeneration

Phillip Montgomery examines the Occupy Wall Street movement with a little help from Ryan Gosling, Talib Kweli, Noam Chomsky and others in his documentary "ReGeneration."
May 03, 2012

 

Film: “ReGeneration”

Release Date: May 3

Location: OnDemand, iTunes, select theaters

When Occupy Wall Street originally emerged last fall, it was met with plenty of ridicule and confusion. And while that wasn’t a fair response, it certainly wasn’t all that surprising of one. What began as a movement focused on rampant corruption plaguing the financial industry had transformed into something much more massive and undefined.

One thing, however, was certain: The youth of America were angry.

What critics of Occupy Wall Street failed to realize was that the movement wasn’t interested in being about one thing in particular. Whether it’s highlighting irresponsible market manipulation or bemoaning the skyrocketing defense budget, Occupy Wall Street is a repudiation of the widespread failures of our entire political and economic apparatus.

That’s just one of the things that Phillip Montgomery explores in his latest documentary “ReGeneration.” Narrated and co-produced by Hollywood darling Ryan Gosling, the film explores the myriad issues facing the American youth and features a hodgepodge of writers, thinkers and musicians, such as Noam Chomsky, Talib Kweli, Howard Zinn and members of electro jam band STS9. A good portion of the documentary also includes interviews with students and faculty of Eagan High School, which Montgomery is an alumnus of.

Montgomery has spent the last seven years filming, editing and writing the film and the version that premiered on Sunday at the Minneapolis’ Film Festival is the final product.

“I remember in 2005, a little while after Bush had gotten re-elected, Hurricane Katrina was taking place ... and I remember just being really angry about what was happening in the world,” Montgomery said. “And I remember wanting to do something about it.”

But Montgomery stressed how he was just as angry at himself as he was at American society. Like so many other disillusioned Americans, he wanted to help and regrets not having done anything sooner.

If “ReGeneration” has any major flaws, it’s that it’s a bit discursive. The film touches on some broad themes and lacks a cohesive center, but that’s sort of the point. In a world fraught with so many problems, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. As a result, the average American, even if they’re willing to help, usually won’t even know where to start.

The central theme of Montgomery’s film might not be awfully profound or revolutionary, but it, without a doubt, applies to all of us regardless of our political preference or professional background. What “ReGeneration” essentially argues is that it’s important that you at least attempt to make an effort. What that is, however —an anti-war demonstration or something as basic as voter registration — is entirely up to you. 

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