Director: Michael Moore,
Watched in: Theater,
I’ve always believed that regardless of what you think of Michael Moore’s politics, skills or style as a filmmaker, he is beyond a doubt a man who loves his country. With Capitalism: A Love Story, he has made yet another one of his signature takedowns of the hypocrites, greedballs and scumbags who have turned America into an unrecognizable war zone where the Haves thrive on jack booting the Have Nots.
It’s the perfect movie to watch at home, since you’ll need to pause several times to rant and retch and shake your head in disbelief at the cruelty of CEOs, the sycophancy of senators, and the lies of lobbyists who have been robbing us blind for the last 30 years. Moore may fudge on his chronologies and cherry pick his facts, and he strains at times to find metaphors for the looting of our treasury and the rape of our constitution, but his arguments seem to always make sense and his anger is palpable.
Moore delivers the goods with Capitalism: A Love Story. The movie presents us with an easy-to-digest history lesson on deregulation and union-busting, courtesy of Ronald Reagan, and the slow erosion of taxes on the wealthy and safety nets for the poor. He uses an entertaining mix of newsreel footage, B-movie clips, and home movies to describe how America descended from a post-war pinnacle of can-do self-invention and prosperity to our current state of foreclosures, bankruptcies, unemployment and stagnant wages. He manages to include this depressing information, along with a primer on last year’s big bank implosion, within a surprisingly lively framework that plays on our sense of justice rather than our sense of revenge.
His interviews with real people drive home the point that no one in power and certainly no one that is rich really gives a damn that for 99% of us the American Dream, whatever that is, is out of reach. He briefly includes a hopeful shout out to the Obama presidency, but doesn’t dwell on the fact that toadies from Goldman Sachs and other insider firms mostly populate Obama’s financial cabinet.
Capitalism: A Love Story is not a call for action; it’s a cry for help. At the end of the film we watch as Michael, wearing his baggy jeans and shapeless t-shirt and goofy baseball cap, wraps Wall Street in yellow crime scene tape and says, poignantly, that he can’t keep doing this alone. He is wondering how much more abuse we are willing to suffer before we stand up and take back our country. That will sound like a call for revolution to some, it will sound like Communism to others, but to me it sounds like Michael Moore just wants “We the People” to mean what it’s supposed to mean.