Michael Moore: A Love-Hate Story

09/23/2009 4:00 AM |

Capitalism: A Love Story
Directed by Michael Moore

You can’t expect subtlety from a film that regularly proclaims “This is America” or “This is capitalism” after some singular, perverse example of self-interest run amok. But though Moore’s op-ed-like broadsides always needs to come with the asterisk to leave polemical and factual rigor at the door, his latest more or less succeeds at its dual-layered, skillfully propagandistic aims: stoke rage against banking industry bandits, while phasing in an explication and endorsement of socialist practices and ethos that grows less and less coded.

Bookending with woeful tales of eviction, Moore follows his usual one-two of rabble-rousing through newsmagazine-worthy outrages, and then whipping out a history-laid-bare retelling of America’s modern era with cheap laughs at the ready. The list can seem almost randomly inductive: “condo vulture” foreclosure-sale, privatized juvenile detention, underpaid airplane pilots, secret company-owned insurance policies on employees. Then, so primed, we learn of the 30-year financial takeover, hatched under Reagan, and government infiltration by banking magnates. (There’s also a sublime WTF moment when Moore visits his good friend and economist… Wallace Shawn.)

Moore’s format and some of his material does have an element of rehash (consciously, in the case of a Roger and Me update, and a visit with Dad). But there’s also an almost quaint effort to get across communal values through instructive means: solidarity and the payoff of protests, in the example of a notorious post-layoff factory sit-in; the power of cooperatives; and the cannibalistic tendencies induced by the profit motive. It’s a small step beyond Moore’s usual problem of leaving his supporters rabid but unequipped.

Opens September 25

One Comment

  • Why do reviews like this try to come off from a great height, using condescension and $5 words to judge the ‘intentions’ and the failures of a film. Moore is a controversial and dynamic filmmaker- love him or hate him- he’s experienced and skilled with the medium and storytelling in general. He deserves a more intelligent, and dare i say- cinematic review. This articles comes off as do-it-yourself- hipster agitprop- which it seems Williamsburg is currently drowning in…