Yes, it’s time for another Michael Moore movie. In fact, this might just be his last documentary, as Moore has expressed an interest in moving to fictional films. For now, however, we get his ode to the big money men of our age, and believe it or not, “Capitalism, A Love Story” is not as incendiary as you might expect (unless you’re a big-time bank CEO). It plays out like an entertaining but infuriating look at that thing we call capitalism, and the economic crisis that has plagued us all. Read on for more capitalism…
The thing that has always irked me about Michael Moore is his tendency to mix the sensational into the message. A point that’s dead-on and truthful will come across the screen, only to get tainted by his antics and come off no stronger than his weakest points. In “Capitalism,” however, it all goes down easier. There is spectacle – no Moore film would be complete without it – but he doesn’t have to stretch for information. He doesn’t have to be too creative with the content because the political ridiculousness is already there. And, more importantly, the understanding audience is a whole lot bigger.
This isn’t a story of Flint, of high school shootings, Bush dirty business, or health care. It’s capitalism. It’s baring the struggles we’re all facing within the U.S. and world-wide. The film is entering a social climate where most of us dealing with the economic fallout, and are angered by it. We’re not, in any way, removed from this Moore topic, and in some ways, it makes all the difference.
There’s a lot to infuriate you, even without the classic Moore antics. We’ve got Wal Mart buying life insurance policies on their workers, who get large payouts while the families of these employees struggle to pay the bills. And this bubbles out into a larger big corporation mentality where these policies are called “dead peasant” insurance. There are privatized juvenile detention centers where detaining youths becomes the primary goal, no matter what their crime. And how about pilots who fly the planes we take across country … They only make 17-20k per year – less than a Taco Bell manager.
There is no shortage of hair-raising information in “Capitalism, A Love Story,” but it’s still delivered with classic Moore style. There’s an old Encyclopedia Britannica film that’s used to compare the downfall of Rome to modern-day America, some thundering “O Fortuna,” some snazzy Cleveland jingles, and most perfectly, a film clip of Ronald Reagan that’s sure to bring laughs with its audaciousness.
But capitalism is too big a beast to really investigate in-depth, and as you can surmise, this isn’t a balanced commentary. The pic finds its villains — they are the banks, bailouts, and people who’ve created communities of empty repossessed homes – and ravages them. We can’t really expect Moore to dig into both sides – that’s not his style – but it does make for a film that plays to our current passions. And that makes a film that will probably succeed as long as we struggle with them.
The value of “Capitalism, A Love Story” is not in the moviemaking, it’s in the message, and the release that it gives to those struggling right now. In the future, the movie probably won’t hold as a piece of classic filmmaking, but right now it will hit you in the gut, make you angry, and make you laugh.