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Friday, February 12, 2016
MOVIE REVIEW/Where To Invade Next
From Abroad, Re-Opening Eyes In America
Moore, in a moment from his latest documentary feature "Where To Invade Next",
which opened today in the U.S. and
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Where has America gone, and why has it gone there? Can we retrieve America
and return it to its rightful place, a place called sanity? These are some
of the most salient questions raised in Michael Moore's latest documentary
"Where To Invade Next", which opened today across the United States and Canada
after a brief Oscar-qualifying theatrical run last December in New York City and
"Where To Invade Next" is arguably Michael Moore's best film, providing
sobering, heartbreaking and hilarious insights as the filmmaker globetrots to
several South American and European countries to learn about their education,
criminal justice and healthcare systems. In his sarcastic and often funny
way Mr. Moore tries to rebrand the ideas the other countries he visits have and
claim them as those of America. (The filmmaker asks politely, speaks
softly like Teddy Roosevelt while carrying a large American flag as his big
On his travels Mr. Moore conducts a range of interviews. Some of his
interviewees express looks of disbelief as the director asks questions about
healthcare and paid vacation time. Some express outrage at the closed,
narrowed promise of America in relation to how it treats its American Dream
seekers. Mr. Moore gets American viewers to look at the U.S. through
overseas eyes, and his (and his "foreign" subjects') message is aimed directly
at U.S. moviegoers. "Where To Invade Next", while sunnier than some of Mr.
Moore's previous efforts, is a deeper, more urgent call for Americans to look in
This latest film isn't about ridiculing American politicians on the right-wing
or ambushing the super-rich and powerful. "Where To Invade Next" is an
impassioned plea to enervate the American mentality to a greater place.
We've fallen far away from the crucible of good ideas America once had, Mr.
Moore argues. He passionately narrates and suggests ways to reclaim those
How America lost those ideas and ideals isn't necessarily always fleshed out to
great degree but the answer is not only evident in "Where To Invade Next" but
more so in all of Mr. Moore's prior films. "Sicko" and "Capitalism: A Love
Story" for example, are great companions to the director's latest.
In "Capitalism" one of the final lines is, "I refuse to live in a country like
this, and I'm not leaving". This was over six years ago, and, as is seen
in "Where To Invade Next", Mr. Moore did leave America, but only to make a
precious point about the country he loves.
Mr. Moore is cast in "Where To Invade Next" doing his patriot duty as a populist
and opening up American eyes to look to greater heights. Travelling opens
the heart and mind, and Mr. Moore metaphorically activates hearts and awakens
deadened pathways of rational thought. I was transfixed at times, saddened
at others - but this is a good thing. I knew what was coming and yet this
film has a deeply affecting tenor that forces you to stop, think and take a long
hard look at America. The film is occasionally uneven in its tone, but you
laugh and laugh before the sad denouement arrives. This rhythm of
storytelling is one that has always served Mr. Moore very well.
The entertainment value Mr. Moore provides along the way belies the tragedy,
anger and sorrow of an America that still hasn't reckoned with the enslavement
of African-Americans. As always, what Mr. Moore does - and what his films
message so effectively -- bring home powerful emotions and truths.
"Where To Invade Next" is at every turn incisive, compelling cinema. None
can say that Mr. Moore's arguments are assailable. His overseas interview
subjects levy their own bewilderment or outrage at what America has become, and
these moments are the film's most effective and damning ones. Michael
Moore clearly and unmistakably loves America, and the currency of his argument
"America - love it or leave it!" has never been this relentless filmmaker's
anthem. Mr. Moore fervently loves his country, and his criticisms of where
the United States has fallen far short is quintessential proof of that. It
is important to sit through the end credits of the film -- because it shows that
Mr. Moore is far from the only American who believes in chipping away at unholy
vestiges of America.
The Michigander filmmaker knows the Michigan town of Flint inside-out and has
been an activist for years. Mr. Moore has condemned the state's governor
Rick Snyder for his role in the fatal Flint water crisis, has recently endorsed
Bernie Sanders for president. "Where To Invade Next" could easily serve as
a campaign manual, not for Mr. Sanders, but for a country in need of rethinking
both its direction and moral and ethical governance.
This new film proudly and unabashedly stands up for a greater America and the
promise that a lost nation desperately needs to rediscover. "It seems that
the American Dream existed everywhere except in America," Mr. Moore narrates,
over imagery of Ferguson, Missouri and the unrest and militarized police
response. Mr. Moore's sense of timing, writing and image-making remain
crisp, damning and impeccably prescient. He captures the zeitgeist so well
and his film has an agility and style that remains fresh, even though some will
feel they've heard this all before.
I don't think Mr. Moore's latest gem is subversive. It is sad to say, as
some have, that "Where To Invade Next" is a subversive film. Because if
daring to say that a film that argues that healthcare, education, women's rights
and criminal justice reform in America is needed is subversive or radical, then
that in and of itself truly illustrates just how far America has fallen as a
"Where To Invade Next" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of
America for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity.
There are occasional English subtitles, for moments where Italian and other
languages are spoken. The film's running time is two hours.
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