Nobody listens to Michael Moore. Sure his films may be well-reviewed, successful at the box office, and receive a lot of awards attention from the film community, but nobody really listens to him. In 2003 he released Farenheit 9/11, a film highly critical of the Bush administration at a time when Bush had his highest approval rating. Despite winning the Palme dâ€™Or at the Cannes Film Festival and becoming the highest grossing documentary of all-time, Bush was re-elected in 2004. Six years later after Bushâ€™s dismal final term, everybody knows â€“ Moore was right.
In 2006 he released Sicko a film that was highly critical of the United States healthcare system. It had modest Box Office returns and was largely dismissed by politicians as policy was more focused on overseas conflicts. Three years later in 2009 there are new healthcare stories on the news every week and healthcare reform proponents are beginning to make the same points that Moore made three years ago.
In Mooreâ€™s latest film Capitalism: A Love Story he turns his analytical lens toward the failing U.S. economic system. The bad guys this time around are the Wall Street CEOs who exploit their workers, pay off politicians, and essentially run the country. Moore brings to the spotlight some of their behavior that has been previously criticized and he also reveals some unheard of practices of the evil corporations.
The film is one of the most balanced efforts that Moore has ever undertaken. The usual raving lefty doesnâ€™t spend all of his time attacking the misguided policies of conservatives. He does casually accuse the previous administration for having a hand in the economic downturn, and he is highly critical of Reagan. However, rather than politics, most of his finger pointing is at the faceless corporations whose practices are found to be downright disgusting, inhumane, and purely capitalist.
In a lot of ways this film is one of the most important of the year. Moore does not shy away from revealing exactly who is to blame for the economic crisis. While the politicians in Washington like to skirt around who is to blame, Moore doesnâ€™t hesitate to divulge the names of the corporate bullies and expose many of their dark deeds. Moore points the finger at politicians on the left and the right and shows how even the seemingly honest politicians can be victim to bribes and payoffs. Thatâ€™s capitalism.
Regardless of your opinion of Moore, it is undeniable that he is a talented filmmaker. He expertly weaves hilarious stock footage and moments of outright farce with tragic true stories of victims of the economy. Donâ€™t be surprised if you find yourself laughing and getting close to tears within a ten minute span. Moore is also the expert at explaining complex concepts in a way that anybody can understand without dumbing things down. This film has the ability to reach audiences of intellectuals and blue collar working men alike.
However, the one problem I have always had with Michael Moore films isâ€¦Michael Moore. The portly filmmaker always inserts himself into his documentaries as he tries to pull off gimmicks for the sake of comedy. However, while Moore excels greatly as a director, he is completely inept as an actor. Even though he is playing himself, his canned responses to questions and attempts at humorous facial expressions cause more eye rolls than guffaws. Heâ€™s like that college professor whose bad jokes you have to sit through in order to glean the wealth of information he has to offer.
One of the most publicized gimmicks is his attempt to confront CEOs for the corporations who received bailout money and ask for it back. He never meets any of these CEOs and his endeavor to complete the task goes on for too long. The problem is that heâ€™s too nice. If he had the daring and edginess of Sacha Baron Cohen or Stephen Colbert these gimmicks would be brilliant, but Moore himself canâ€™t quite pull it off.
However, if you donâ€™t mind a brief gimmick or two, Capitalism: A Love Story is definitely worth checking out. The points that it has to make are so important that one can only hope that this time around, people actually listen to Moore.
Bottom Line: If youâ€™re a money-grubbing corporate executive, this might not be the film for you. However, if you are like everybody else in this country who has been affected in some way by the economy – see this film, bring your friends, and take notes.