Whether you love or hate Michael Moore and his movies, we'll probably agree on two things: His movies ARE provocative, and they're at least a little one-sided.
Despite the latter criticism, I have enjoyed his latest offerings, and you may count me as a newbie since I have only seen his latest two overall: Sicko, and now, Capitalism: A Love Story.
Just like in Sicko, Moore uses humor and selected information to persuade you to his point-of-view, and his point-of-view is quite liberal. He endorsed a universal health care system in Sicko and is now promoting a more liberal economy in Capitalism..., even going so far to shrug off the socialism label to promote what he believes would be a fairer society.
His methods are many-fold, but he evokes the past as well as the present to make his point, and his point couldn't be more timely (or opportunistic, depending on whom you ask) when the titled economic system is in disarray and has seen many abuses and failings. Evoking memories of his childhood, he reminds us of the post-World War II times in America when victory brought the spoils of prosperity to our country while much of the rest of the Western world was digging itself out of the rubble of war, and America became a world architect for post-war reconstruction.
Moore is right to point out that in the midst of that prosperity, the upper echelon of society paid about 90% in taxes until the Reagan Administration (and, it should be noted, tax relief was also part and parcel of the Kennedy administration, but really codified by Reagan) put the upper crust at about a 35% tax rate.
Clearly the fifties and sixties did usher a time of health and wealth. The generosity of Jonas Salk's breakthrough, the building of highways under the helm of Eisenhower (after the many man-made projects of FDR and the New Deal, of course) and the benefits for average Americans to own homes, new cars, and appliances is a chapter that's not hard to sell.
Moore spends a great deal of time contrasting that age of prosperity and good will with the unstable money markets of today. Noting the bank failures and bailouts of recent years and the lack of matching initiatives for working people who have (in my own paraphrase) given the "trickle down economic theory" a lot to answer for. In typical Moore fashion, he tries to go to each of the main banking institutiions to meet with CEO's and make citizen's arrest(s) and demand the people's tax money back.
The other contrasts are not made with time, but with other people during the recession. We see a portrait of honest people losing their homes, victims of Katrina, and workers who have their wages reneged by companies breaking their contractual promises. The contrasts he makes are compelling, and although critics will understandably cry foul for some sins of omission, there are positive portraits as well: Moore gives us a positive antidote by showing two thriving companies that are employees owned (and all I could think of were co-ops).
One of the most poignant moments of the film is when Moore talks to the loved ones of those who have died and reveals that the working place of the deceased reaped huge benefits from a life insurance policy. When he further uncovers that some are calling this company benefit the "Dead Peasants" fund, you almost start to feel queasy.
A Little PR or Personal Reflection: I think it would be appropos to let you in on my point-of-view. Afterall, a Michael Moore movie is nothing if it doesn't somehow stimulate discussion. Capitalism to me is a very powerful tool. Morally, I believe it is neutral, but can be used for good or evil. Like a hammer, which can be used to build a house or kill several people, capitalism is a tool that must be handled carefully (and, I should add, in the right hands). Moore's perspective is that capitalism is evil. It has been manhandled, abused, and disproportionately leaves a gap between winners and losers. Surely, Ayn Rand's vision of capitalism was certainly biased by someone who saw a communist regime with god as the state and poverty institutionalized to all but the Politoburo. (History showed Lech Walesa to be the union worker who humiliated the whole proletariat facade of communism.) Still, unfettered capitalism both creates empires and leaves its losers in the dust. While I may prefer G.K. Chesterton's distributivism to Moore's economic vision, I can't argue with spreading around the wealth and codifying Wall Street and the banking industry. (After all, when you bail out failing banks aren't you really bringing socialism to the elite!)
Conclusion Moore may not have all the facts or all the anecdotes, but he certainly does provide a compelling two hours of evidence that is stimulating and sometimes fun to watch. Keeping a sense of humor certainly takes an edge off of the vitriol (sometimes found in Oscar night acceptance speeches), but while Moore failed to convince me that capitalism is evil incarnate, he certainly gave me several reasons to root for a rehaul of reform. And, that's the reason to see a documentary, so you can form your own opinions and have consuming conversations at cafe's and do little (or even big) things to change this imperfect world....
Humorous, enlightening and thought provoking. Looking at Capitalism from different angles through Hollywood lenses. It details the tax cuts introduced in the Reagan Era to the extent that the rich get richer. Corporations and Wall Street then ruled the country from then on. Productivity increased and the goal of corporations is for short term profits. The stock markets skyrocketed for 2 decades and CEOs were paid huge bonuses. The motorcar industry and the bankruptcy of … more
Capitalism: A Love Story is nothing short of a battle cry, and quite frankly, at this day and age that's about the only thing such a documentary can be. Had it been a documentary exclusively about the rich getting richer than it would be a wasted effort. Stories of greed and draconian executives have been so often repeated that these days it's doubtful whether or not they will elicit a response from the public. Moore knows this, and so he devotes about half of his documentary to those folks who … more
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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Capitalism: A Love Story is a 2009 documentary film directed by Michael Moore. The film centers on the financial crisis of 2007–2009 and the recovery stimulus, while putting forward an indictment of the current economic order in the United States and capitalism in general. Topics covered include everything from Wall Street's "casino mentality", for-profit prisons, Goldman Sachs' influence in Washington, DC, the poverty-level of many airline pilots, the large wave of home foreclosures, and the consequences of "runaway greed." The film will be widely released to the public in the United States on October 2, 2009.