Saturday, October 3, 2009

Movie Review- Capitalism: A Love Story

Michael Moore's new film, Capitalism: A Love Story comes almost on the heels of 2007's SiCKO. While SiCKO proved to be a very efficacious film that exposed the evils of the health care industry, in telling stories and showing surveillance footage of patients getting dumped off at free clinics courtesy of cab rides kindly paid by hospitals such as Kaiser Permanente, Capitalism may not prove to be as catalytic as Fahrenheit 9/11 or even Bowling For Columbine.

Moore's latest effort, while it features flashes of the beloved liberal activist we've come to know and love, plainly wasn't going for as many laughs as usual yet it suffers from a lack of focus and inspiration that made him the most successful and wealthiest documentarian in Hollywood history.

Capitalism starts off with home video footage of a North Carolina family getting evicted from their home, to be followed up by an Illinois family suffering the same fate. Moore traces our ongoing, if soured, love affair with the capitalism that's been hyped up by corporate titans as something in which we can all share.

Citing his personal experience with America the way it was during the post war boom of the Eisenhower years, Moore reminds us how life in America used to be: The husband and father going to work while Mom stayed home. If she wanted to work, she could but not because she had to. Dad worked his way toward a pension and could look forward to his golden years without anxiety.

Then about thirty years ago, something happened: That something was Ronald Reagan, a union-busting, New School Republican who proved to be the antithesis of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the last Republican president we ever had who not only had good, populist ideas but one who actually took his nation's prosperity to heart.

While Nixon, Kaiser and Ehrlichman were fingered in SiCKO as being the culprits in the disastrous privatization of the health care industry, Reagan came in with Regan and his axe man David Stockman and finished what Nixon only started. In short order, Reagan smashed PATCO and other unions, cut the income tax rate in half for the very wealthiest and started a deregulatory orgy that transformed America from a three-tiered economy to a two-tiered economy: The wealthy and the poor.

No doubt, Capitalism will stir some anger and resentment, especially when Moore goes into the specifics of the bailout bill. But Moore for once merely rehashes over what well-informed liberals already know, such as all the Goldman Sachs alumni who'd eventually come to infest the Treasury Dept. Even worse, Moore continues to insist that the bailout bill was the "mere" $700 billion that the MSM dutifully and robotically tells us it was. The total bailout, when one factors in the trillions more poured into foreign and domestic banks by the Federal Reserve, which alone could easily support a two hour Moore documentary, brings the total taxpayer tab to several trillions more.

He takes a few swipes at George W. Bush, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. He even briefly mentions the FOA sweetheart deals given to senior senators such as Christopher Dodd courtesy of Angelo Mozillo. Then the movie ends, with all the implicated players seemingly let off the hook.

Capitalism, as stated before, isn't played for laughs, although there are a few moments of dark humor aided by Moore's trademark usage of public domain file footage. At one point, Moore is even stopped about 70 feet from the lobby of a bailed-out bank by an overzealous security officer who kept putting his hand over the camera lens.

Moore, to his credit, doesn't end his documentary on a hopeless note. He returns to the Republic Door Factory in Chicago that was taken over by recently laid off workers who were rooked out of their severance pay by Bank of America when they yanked Republic's line of credit. He showed us the Cook County sheriff who refused to evict people from their homes in that same city and even showed us the successful efforts of a family squatting in their own foreclosed home.

But the well-informed already know this. Moore's appeal and popularity had always depended on being one step ahead of us and ingeniously synthesizing hard investigative journalism, a keen eye for history with entertainment no matter how grim the news or dire the results. There's little of that in Capitalism and those who see it may derive the sense that it will prove to be far less efficacious than his earlier, more successful efforts.

And let's not forget, Michael Moore has a miserable track record in terms of efficacy. GM still filed for bankruptcy and people lost their jobs, gun sales are still going through the roof, George W. Bush was able to steal another election and we're no closer to getting actual health care reform today than we've been over the last 45 years.

The toll on Moore is showing. At the end of the movie he wearily says, "I can't do this anymore," and called for his fans to get more involved, a theme that we've been hearing from Moore for weeks. This could easily be Michael Moore's last documentary. If that's true, it's a shame that he couldn't go out with a bigger bang.


At October 4, 2009 at 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good review, but the praise of Eisenhower is a little mistaken. Ike was very anti New Deal (aka "No Deal") and began rolling back FDR's work on day one. He originated the southern strategy by courting the conservaDem christian vote getting four southern states. He made the deal with Taft that let him ramp up the cold war if he declared war on the new deal at home. He started the national prayer breakfast tearing down the wall between church and state. Added "In God We Trust" to our money and "Under God" to our pledge. He could also be credited for starting the Vietnam war by installing a corrupt Christian dictator in a Buddist country.

Ike was by no means a populist. He was a very skilled, elite politician, who hated the working class.

At October 4, 2009 at 2:05 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Sorry. I can't agree with all of that. He didn't hate the working class. If he had, he would've done the same things Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes wound up doing. You can't say that we didn't enjoy a good long postwar boom from 1946 on.

Under Eisenhower, the wealthiest paid up to 91% in taxes and they still made out pretty well. He warned us against the military industrial complex and the zealots who would empower them. He hated McCarthy even though he was a member of his own party. Yeah, he had a lot of populist appeal. He maintained a strong foreign policy, a firm but even-handed national defense and didn't gouge the poor and middle class with unfair taxes.

That's still a helluva lot more populist than anything Nixon, Reagan or the Bushes ever gave us.

At October 4, 2009 at 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fault Ike for one thing- he didn't toss Nixon off the ticket after the "Checkers" speech--think what that would have saved us 20 years down the road.

At October 5, 2009 at 12:08 AM, Blogger NicePoliteRepublicans said...

Arbenz & Mossadegh: thanks, Ike.

At October 5, 2009 at 1:01 AM, Anonymous london said...

I never see its review yet,.. but i hope it will be better than 9/11.

At October 9, 2009 at 2:49 AM, Blogger asley said...

Definitely I liked to watch “Capitalism: A Love Story” again. My favorite director is Michael Moore who was directed this, great reveal of political and economical aspect in the America. It was really fantastic but I love SICKO movie more than this as it had included some humors too.


At November 18, 2009 at 1:14 AM, Blogger strike said...

Nice blog..And good review...Abd the movie is also very good.. i watched this movie with my friends..You can also Download Capitalism a love story movie from this link..

At November 20, 2009 at 6:27 AM, Blogger Atul said...

Captalism a love story movie is documentary which tells the story how Bush administration transforms into Obama Administration and how it deals with recovery stimulus. Nice storyline and role of characters is also very good. And I
download captalism a love story movie
from this website

At December 15, 2010 at 11:14 PM, Blogger John Steinsvold said...

An Alternative to Capitalism (which we need here in the USA)

The following link takes you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the
Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold


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