Friday, July 26, 2019

Movie Review: "Knock Down the House" (2019)

Director: Rachel Lears
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

A look at a movement of grassroots campaigns hoping to disrupt the status quo by running in primary elections to challenge career politicians within their own party.

Movie still for Netflix's latest political documentary film Knock Down the House where Cori Bush goes door to door to meet her constituents
"We have the power to say "we can do better."" (Image Source)
Some sections of the population talk about the United States government as if it were a separate entity that exists outside of public control. Director Rachel Lears shows that's not really the case in her 2019 Netflix movie "Knock Down the House." This documentary follows a series of grassroots campaigns seeking to revolutionize the way Americans view politics. These campaigns are not about left versus right or Republican versus Democrat. They are crusades to allow everyday people with passion and fresh new ideas challenge establishment politicians within their own party. These campaigns don't take corporate PAC money, and they don't take payouts from big industries with lobbyists entrenched in Washington, D.C. that selfishly seek to shape policies for their own benefit. This documentary explores campaigns funded by the people, for the people. What's more American than that? At the center of the film are four female candidates running for office, including Cori Bush, a nurse, single mother, and community activist running for Congress in Missouri's first district; Amy Vilela, a "Medicare For All" activist running for Congress in Nevada's fourth district; Paula Jean Swearengin, an activist running for Senate in Virginia, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a working-class community organizer running to become the U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district against the establishment-backed Democrat Joe Crowley, who has run unchallenged in primary elections for 14 years.
Movie still for Rachel Lears's 2019 film Knock Down the House where Paula Jean Swearengin addresses a group of prospective voters in West Virginia
"Americans aren't asking for a lot. They're just asking to get by, and they are just asking for politicians to be brave enough to help them get by." (Image Source)
Netflix's "Knock Down the House" is an inspirational reminder of what is possible in America. It shows that political evolution can happen for those who are willing to push for change. Some politicians have maintained their seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives for decades. Why? Because Americans frequently choose their affiliated party over candidates, or because they vote for the same recognizable names over and over out of habit. This is how political dynasties are created, and it is how singular families like the Bushes or the Kennedys wind up shaping American policies for decades to come. It's a damn shame that so many incumbents run uncontested in primary elections because the establishment is more interested in maintaining control and keeping corporate money flowing in as opposed to allowing fresh faces with new ideas to take office. The lengths many politicians go to maintain that control is shocking. "Knock Down the House" gives an inside look at what it's like to form a political campaign based on integrity, enthusiasm, and being tired of the status quo. We watch as these four women speak honestly and intensely about their personal ideas for the future. They aren't just spewing out buzzwords or hope they will appeal to their base with tepid policy suggestions that might upset centrists or independents. Bush, Vilela, Swearengin, and Ocasio-Cortez have what some may consider radical concepts, and they are willing and ready to put themselves on full display by saying "this is who I am, this is what I believe, and we, the people, the voters, have the choice to make a change if we want it." It is both refreshing and empowering as hell to watch.
Movie still for Netflix's film Knock Down the House where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sits outside the United States Capitol building and reflecting after winning an election to become the U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district
"We don't care about party, we just want to get stuff done." (Image Source)
Not all of the subjects of Netflix's "Knock Down the House" accomplished what they set out to do, but win or lose, each of the women has made an impression and an impact moving forward. All four of these women have shown that we don't have to accept the status quo forever, and that change is never really that far away. What has happened in the past won't always be how it is done in the future, we just need to shake things up a bit to move forward.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
RT Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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