Michael Moore’s absolutely brilliant (but flawed) new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story” skewers both Republicans and Democrats. I got to see it yesterday at an advance private screening in Toronto.
Although Moore is definitely a liberal and an Obama fan, Democrats should beware: the Oscar-winning filmmaker doesn’t hesitate to take to task a group of Democrats including Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, lifetime ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala. Moore also comes down hard on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner.
But this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Moore is interested in getting at the truth of how our economy collapsed. Political parties don’t matter in the end. I know he’s hoped’a scandal would break out and get publicity for the film about him decrying capitalism, perhaps supporting socialism. But it’s not accurate. What he’s after is a return to democracy.
“Capitalism” is brilliant on many levels. Moore said in a blog recently that in Venice they told him the film was symphonic. It is actually quite operatic, and plays like an epic. It is the most serious film Moore has made, almost a sequel to his 1989 hit “Roger and Me” that is often poignant and always edgy. There are no cheap shots. And in fact the “shtick” stuff is offered as just that ‘ a little intentional comic relief to the really meaty subject at hand.
The “Roger and Me” references are apt because 20 years ago’ Moore made a name for himself predicting the end of General Motors. His record of what happened to Flint, Michigan when GM closed its plant now resonates like crazy thanks to the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies and the government bailout.
Moore tells a tale beginning in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan, although he skips completely David Stockman, trickle down economics and the 1987 Wall Street crash. Nevertheless, he makes a strong case for the corporatizing of the government during Reagan and how that set in motion the events of last fall. (You may be surprised by a clip of a Jimmy Carter presidential address that in retrospect looks naive.)
So much information is packed into “Capitalism” that it would take a very long column to detail its every move. Suffice to say that Moore is unflinching in’describing how members of both parties availed themselves of Wall Street help while the average American was being set up to pay a heavy price. Stories of home foreclosures, and how they snowballed across the country, are particularly jarring.
This time around, as in “Sicko,” Moore does not make fun of characters or take jabs at them. He’s matured tremendously as a filmmaker and as an editor. Now, when a man is losing his belongings and they include his gun collection, Moore doesn’t berate the guy for owning firearms. He sympathizes with his loss. This attitude gives “Capitalism”’the gravity it required to make it work.
And don’t miss Moore’s trip to Washington, DC where he finds support for his theories with three members of Congress. One of them, Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, is my new hero. She’s a standout. The people of Ohio should be proud that she represents them. I just hope she gets re-elected after they see her in the movie. She’s a brave lady! Kaptur agrees with Moore that what’s happened since the stock market crash of October 2008 amounts to a “financial coup d’etat.” And that includes the Democrats’ capitulation to the bailout, and the later realization that no one knows where the bailout billions went.
Bravo to Michael Moore. Now let’s just hope every American sees this movie.