A lathering place for liberals, the money-in-politics documentary "Citizen Koch" arrives in theaters already juiced by conspiracy-minded controversy: a slated PBS airing that was pulled, many believe, because of skittishness over upsetting one of the movie's shadow villains, billionaire industrialist and public broadcasting donor David Koch.
The rise of money men like Koch and his brother Charles in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling is the focus of Carl Deal's and Tia Lessin's film. Specific attention goes to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's aggressive public union-busting efforts after winning election in 2010, widely analyzed as doing the bidding of right-wing campaign contributors who, thanks to Citizens United, can give large and remain anonymous.
When the movie isn't a lightning-paced rehashing of that drama's twists and sound bites, the filmmakers zero in on the disillusionment of a few longtime Wisconsin Republicans who bemoan the increased influence of corporate money in political campaigns. (There's also a brief tag-along with similarly outraged 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer.)
Arriving just in time to alert concerned voters of all stripes as we head into midterm elections, "Citizen Koch" is pure advocacy doc: brisk and clear-eyed, to be sure, but not likely to surprise headline-savvy moviegoers or angered progressives.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle's Royal, West L.A.; Sundance Sunset, L.A.; Laemmle's Town Center 5, EncinoCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times