Tom Shadyac described making the documentary as "freeing", giving himself complete creative control along with his small crew. See more »
An ocean, a rainforest, the human body, are all co-operatives. The redwood tree doesn't take all the soil and nutrients, just what it needs to grow. A lion doesn't kill every gazelle, just one. We have a term for something in the body when it takes more than its share, we call it: cancer.
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Director of goofy comedies like Ace Ventura, Tom Shaydac had an epiphany after a life-threatening bicycle accident and did this sweet documentary, I Am, to answer two simple questions: What's wrong with our world? What can we do about it? Enlisting the brain power of intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, among others (some more celebrity than brainy), he gets a surprising unanimity.
With its liberal leaning threatening to capsize the project, scholars and Shaydac agree that community rather than individualism (watch out Ayn Rand) is the answer, love rather that selfishness. It has been popular of late to attack the American dream of individual achievement in order to glamorize the Christian philosophy of loving your brother and helping your neighbor.
Disagreeing with this notion is akin to being a grumpy capitalist, so no one in this soft documentary disagrees by arguing, as anyone might, that American individualism is what built the USA into a superpower, starting as it might with the exhortation to "go West, young man (woman)" or believe in "self reliance." I contend that both charity and individualism can work together for a better world, but Shaydac seems in no mood to compromise, or more appropriately, collaborate.
Pretty images, Rumi recitations, and new-age music are the background the curly-coiffed Shaydac employs to keep a glow on the message, which is consistent and suspiciously pat. For instance, shots of loving animal and human families don't necessarily make his case because most will naturally love and nurture their own regardless of charitable pieties.
I have to give Shaydac credit for shucking his material gain like his Hollywood mansion and moving into a Malibu trailer park with his utility bicycle. Unlike Michael Moore, he walks the walk (or rides the ride in the case of that bike).
I Am is a comfortable tome on the effectiveness of love, a concept difficult to denigrate.
"In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art."
Rumi, Art as Flirtation and Surrender
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