The economy. The economy. The economy. No subject is more talked about or important these days than the economy. So, it's only natural that liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, having already taken on gun control, Republicans and universal healthcare, select the economy as the topic of his latest movie, the aptly titled Capitalism: A Love Story.
To clear the elephant in the room, I'm a Democrat, an especially liberal one when it comes to social issues. I completely agreed with Moore on guns: they benefit no one and the Constitution doesn't afford the right to individuals to possess them. Fahrenheit 911 went over the top and didn't help anyone, though it was fun to watch a Bush Jr. bashing. Though the prospect of universal healthcare is both daunting and not without its pitfalls, Moore presented a strong case for it in Sicko. Furthermore, I'm fully in favor of gay marriage, spending more on education and using diplomacy to strengthen national defense - not the military.
But the economy is not something that benefits from a singular viewpoint, especially not one from an extreme left wing individual such as Michael Moore. Moore is a great storyteller, and just like politicians is talented at stretching and using specific facts to make sweeping statements about whatever he chooses. As liberal as he is, an overly liberal perspective (just like an overly conservative one) is not what this country or the world needs to survive for another hundred or thousand years.
So, needless to say, Capitalism: A Love Story is a far-fetched, off-the-wall documentary that says a lot but accomplishes little. Moore has a tendency in all his films to go on tangents only faintly related to his main focus, and by covering the economy, which is such a broad and at times nebulous thing, he sets himself up for failure. Moore skips from one loosely related topic to the next, jumping on the big banks one minute, politicians the next, while trying to evoke some tears by showing people losing their homes and Katrina flooding New Orleans. I'm still trying to figure out how a hurricane ties into everything.
Moore's documentary is easy to watch and not without its interesting moments, but it's so scattered and fluffy there ultimately isn't much of a point. Capitalism: A Love Story lacks the fire that most of Moore's other documentaries have had, and doesn't present enough hard facts to make up for it. His logic on getting from Point A to Point B is often suspect, too.
Capitalism: A Love Story suffers from an overtly liberal slant that does not favors. Even other liberals such as myself will see the hotels, and if you don't then you need to read up on your economics. Moore tries to gloss over this by suggesting that the little people know better than the elite in charge, but his only real evidence appears to be sentimental filler about foreclosures and the misery of poor people. As a result, Capitalism: A Love Story is Moore's weakest film to date.
Review by Nathan Samdahl (A-)
Capitalism: A Love Story, the new well-timed (as always) film by Michael Moore, strikes hard and cuts to the heart of yet another one of the country's key issues, the manipulation and greed at the core of our capitalist system. Moore traces the history of our capitalist system from our constitution, which mentions little to nothing about it, all the way through to our current economic meltdown. Moore follows the style set predominantly in his past two films, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko, relying more on the stories of the victims than those of the perpetrators to tell his story. Part of this probably spawns from the fact that most of the villains in his docus wouldn't step within a 100 feet of Moore, let alone give him an interview. It seems that the Charleton Heston-esque image killing may not be standard course for his upcoming film endeavors.
However, with that said, Moore could actually reach a wider base with this film than with some of his previous, partially because President Bush is not really at the center of the story. Certainly there is good amount of Republican bashing (you won't like Reagan much after the film), but the stories that Moore chooses to show should touch the hearts of anyone who hasn't replaced theirs with coal. For instance, the opening scene of the film shows video shot by a family as they are forcefully evicted from their home, by about seven police cars full of cops. The scene feels like something out of a horror film, certainly not something that would occur in the United States. But of course, as Moore points out, someone's house is foreclosed on in this country once every 7.5 seconds, so such scenes are apparently now common place. Similar sequences showing other families kicked out of their long-time homes by banks that should never have loaned money to people they knew couldn't repay them are disturbing to watch and help illustrate one of Moore's key topics: the growing divide between the rich and poor.
As always, the film has plenty of the antics we know and expect from Moore, including him trying to place the heads of AIG and Citibank under citizen's arrest as well as him trying to get back the billions of taxpayers' dollars paid to these banks. And yes, these billions of dollars used to bailout the very select group of banks and large corporations deemed important to our economy apparently were handed out with no tight supervision and regulation to determine where this money was actually going (as shown by a Moore interviewee, one of the heads of the committee overseeing the bailout, who had no clue where the money went).
This movie should make you angry, it should make you want to do something, and it sure as hell will make you love the concept of accountability. As with all of Moore's films, there will certainly be those that hate this film because it doesn't mesh with their beliefs or their pocketbook. There will also be those that say what Moore presents isn't factual. For those that feel this way, Michael Moore actually has a great proposition for you. Following the film, Moore came up for about an hour of Q & A and mentioned that from Fahrenheit onwards, he has offered $10,000 to anyone who can find an incorrect fact in his films. Furthermore, he has during that same period hired the fact checkers of the New Yorker (or other fact checking teams) and a group of attorneys to double check every part of his films. So again, for those that really think Michael Moore is off his wagon, this may be a great way for you to pick up some extra cash. Just keep in mind though, in all that time, as Moore mentioned, that $10,000 has stayed firmly planted in his pocket.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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