human behavior

Capitalism: a love story

Posted in American Culture & Politics, Reviews by humanb on October 20, 2009

moore_filmLast night I saw a screening of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: a Love Story at Paramount Pictures in Sydney. The screening was sponsored by Democrats Abroad Australia, the official branch of the U.S. Democratic Party in Australia. There were about three dozen Americans at the event who were given a private viewing in a cozy theatre filled to capacity. A discussion followed, but at 9:00pm on a Monday, I was more interested in a night cap than a recap. So I bailed to think about the film alone on my walk to the train station.

My immediate reactions to the first half of the film were:

Moore’s confrontational gimmicks and editing stunts are lame.

Moore’s arguments are so crude and simplistic as to weaken his intellectual credibility, albeit while cementing his populist credentials.

The film’s messages are vague and intangible: Capitalism evil. Democracy good. What does one do with this information exactly?

Complex characters are caricatured: Bankers, mercenary and merciless. Workers, industrious and compassionate. Government, a Wall Street puppet.

My immediate conclusion by the end of the film was:

Everyone should see this movie.

When Moore’s clumsily executed stunts and broadsides are muted, and the camera turns toward the unscripted moments of real people, things get interesting.

You see the disproportionate suffering of Americans at the hands of capitalism’s biggest winners. And you see the mind-boggling greed, apathy, mendacity and criminality of private business and its political accomplices.

This film is designed to produce a visceral sense of injustice, more so than a compulsion to fact-check. For Moore, this is fine if it motivates people to push back hard against unfettered corruption on Wall Street and the capitulation of politicians to its whims.

But Moore wants more than a challenge to Wall Street – something much larger, more meaningful, and more long-lasting. He wants to permanently re-empower the little guys. At those moments when Moore retreats behind the camera, the film is an eloquent and poignant reminder that people have the potential, barely tapped or realized, to radically change the state of things.

All you have to do is start paying attention, and you’ll be motivated to get involved. Because Moore is tired of going it alone.

Watch this film, and you’ll mainly get angry.

But that’s a start.

3 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses

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  1. mike rankin said, on November 10, 2009 at 1:25 am

    film comments from “Planet humanb”

    • humanb said, on November 10, 2009 at 7:26 am

      So you’d rather read Roger Ebert? Knock yourself out Mike.

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