The Popcorn Reel                                                    
                                                                                                             Friday, October 2, 2009


Capitalism: A Love Story

Wall Street's Main Street Squeeze
: Your $$$ Or Your Life (Or Both)
By Omar P.L. Moore/     SHARE
Friday, October 2, 2009        printer friendly

Nothing short of devastating, "Capitalism: A Love Story" is Michael Moore's most shattering and salient film to date, a valuable primer on the history and nature of capitalism in the U.S. and its inherent disasters which have left most of the American middle and lower classes severely worse off.  Mr. Moore presents an overarching view using the death of the Roman Empire as a comparison to the current precarious state of the American Empire.  He points to the glories of American capitalism in the 1950s and 60s until the Ronald Reagan "greed is good" era turned capitalism into a dirtier phenomenon in the 1980s.  The film persuasively documents the ubiquitous power of corporate America and its deep roots, infiltration and control of the nation's politicians.  Specific sequences -- notably those featuring U.S. congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio who takes a strong stand against corporate avarice -- are as firebrand as anything Mr. Moore has put on the big screen. 

Mr. Moore solemnly narrates "Capitalism" and you can almost feel his heart aching.  As in "SiCKO", "Fahrenheit 9/11" and other Moore documentaries there's deft editing of newsreels, movie scenes and oodles of humor to leaven the more disturbing scenes in "Capitalism".  Such scenes include home video that will move hearts and stir outrage.  "Capitalism" as a film isn't as tightly focused as previous Moore efforts but its impact is searing.  In it the American mainstream news media is skewered with its own footage of its cheerleading Wall Street and capitalism-as-religion, and Mr. Moore humorously invokes a subverted mantra also found on page 136 of Eric Williams' must-read book Capitalism & Slavery: "To the Manchester capitalist, 'Jesus Christ was Free Trade, and Free Trade was Jesus Christ".  In his most personal film, Mr. Moore examines his early roots in Catholicism and gets opinions from the local clergy on capitalism.  Mr. Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan is not far from his mind and it pains him and us, as we watch what has happened to Flint and the rest of America in the 20 years since the director's debut film "Roger & Me".

Citizens' arrest: Michael Moore talking to a New York City police officer in Lower Manhattan in "Capitalism: A Love Story",
which expanded its release today in North America.  (Photo: Overture Films)

If American bank robberies are like runway fashion shows, then "Capitalism: A Love Story" flaunts them like blurry video models in a funny way but the film later turns serious as a larger, insidious and sophisticated bank heist of the entire country occurs.  The depth of the thievery is chilling, even for those who followed the news closely late last year.  Mr. Moore's satirical film, which as entertainment isn't easy to digest, is at its very best when conveying the predicaments of hard-working Americans and shrewdly identifying populist power for use as an effective weapon of checks and balances against uncontrolled political and financial power.  Mr. Moore, who implies that for the last 30 years there's been wholesale financial and economic warfare waged against the bottom 95% of Americans by corporations, politicians and the richest 1% of Americans, exhorts his audience to deputize themselves.  There's amazing footage of a past U.S. president that's both a stirring never-before-seen spectacle and an elegiac, a noble and painful moment of great possibility tinged with an unyielding righteousness. 

Those looking for a fever-pitch bash of U.S. Republicans will be disappointed with "Capitalism: A Love Story", for Mr. Moore is more damning of the Democratic politicians whom he argues signed away the country to financial investment bulwarks Goldman Sachs and AIG and then expressed incredulously as spas, resort vacations and bonuses were doled out by the millions of dollars following the bailout that those very same politicians voted for.  The current U.S. president doesn't get a free ride either (though Mr. Moore neglects to mention that as a U.S. senator Mr. Obama voted for the bank bailout plan last October.)  Through it all, Mr. Moore's most forceful argument is that capitalism is an evil that must be abolished once and for all, and the stories he tells demonstrating that dollar signs trump all else in the universe -- including human lives -- fuel an anger and distress among the audience that is palpable and overwhelming.

Fascinating, furious and moving, "Capitalism: A Love Story" inspires action and reveals Mr. Moore's patriotism to country to be fervent and unwavering.  It's the most patriotic cinematic statement he's ever made.  (Note: watch the end credits.)  America's glory and decay converge in an emotional crescendo during this cleverly executed film.  Mr. Moore doesn't provide answers about combating capitalism's negative effects, but he's not supposed to.  It's left to us and he leaves us plenty to think about.

"Capitalism: A Love Story" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for some language.  The film's running time is two hours and seven minutes.    

Related:  Omar's unscripted YouTube review of "Capitalism: A Love Story"

Related: Michael Moore on President Obama, Racism and "Capitalism"

Related: Photo Gallery of "Capitalism: A Love Story" Red Carpet In L.A.

Copyright 2009.  The Popcorn Reel.  All Rights Reserved.

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