Capitalism: A Love Story is more than Michael Moore's latest documentary — it's the summation of the movies he's been making for the past 20 years. He lays all the ills of American society at the feet of an out-of-control free-market system — a system he detests so much that he puts priests on camera to talk about capitalism's moral evils.
Clearly Moore has not lost his provocateur's gift. But not even the director's pot-stirring skills can quell the suspicion that Capitalism would have benefited from the narrower focus that helped give his earlier films such punch. This picture comes by its scattershot approach naturally — just ask Karl Marx, who spent 18 years researching and writing his multi-volume Das Kapital — but it's still distracting.
That said, Moore's scattershot is a lot more interesting than some filmmakers' focus, and many of his individual sequences are classic. The director hasn't lost his zest for confrontational antics: He surrounds all of Wall Street with yellow "crime scene" tape to emphasize his low opinion of the area's activities, and he drives an armored car up to AIG's corporate headquarters, demanding that the company return federal bailout funds.
The main point Moore wants to make — the thing that drives him craziest — is his notion that capitalism, far from being a system that rewards excellence, is a scheme set up to make a profit on absolutely anything, a system that has turned American society into a culture that says money is the only value.
In the end, perhaps the most startling thing about Capitalism is that Moore stands revealed not as some pointy-headed socialist, but as an unreconstructed New Deal Democrat. He admires Franklin D. Roosevelt, believes in increased democracy and opportunity, and feels that the decades-long weakening of unions has fatally weakened America. The fact that this will be a controversial stance says as much about today's political culture as it does about Moore's place in it.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Michael Moore's New Target: 'Capitalism' Itself
According to Kenneth Turan's September 22, 2009 National Public Radio (NPR) movie review "Michael Moore's New Target: 'Capitalism' Itself":