Movie Title: Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
Capitalism: A Love Story is Michael Moore’s latest stab at cooperate America, released on the 20-year anniversary of his first documentary film, Roger & Me (1989). This 127-minute film features Moore interviewing politicians, economists, religious leaders, and average, blue-collar citizens on the evils of capitalism. Also included is a flurry of archived footage of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Everything, from social gatherings to mortgage scandals, is discussed at great length in what seems like miles and miles of clips. Along with the footage are silly scenes of Moore driving armored trucks up to banks and asking for the people’s tax money back and an obviously out-of-ideas Michael Moore wrapping a bank in yellow crime scene tape and claiming to be there to make a citizen’s arrest.
Moore’s message (as though you are wondering): capitalism is evil…capitalism is really evil…capitalism is really, really evil…even Catholicism and many religious figures think so. So says Father Dick Preston: “It is contrary to the common good. It is contrary to compassion. It is contrary to all the major religions. Capitalism is wrong, and therefore, has to be eliminated.” Walmart is also evil. Socialism: socialism is good…and biblical and moral, though the biblical and moral parts Moore never cared about until he found that it served his purpose to mention.
And mortgage investors are evil. Congressmen are corrupt. The big banks are manipulating the system to their own advantage. The bailout was a bad move, an illegal move forced upon us by satanic bankers who operate outside of the law. Why this sudden urgent insistence from Mr. Moore that white-collar crimes exist? We knew that. No need to state the obvious.
And then we get statements like this to go along with scenes from teary-eyed family members getting forcefully evicted from their homes: “There’s got to be some kind of a rebellion between the people who have nothing and the people who have it all.” Socialist philosophy to a “t”: You can’t sleep in a nice house of your own unless you hook me up with one of my own!
Moore gives footage of the 2002 PA Child Care scandal, wherein two judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conohan, shut down the state-funded juvenile detention center to send offenders to a privately owned Wilkes-Barre and one sister location. Both judges were charged with federal racketeering.
The film opens with commentary on the downfall of Rome and with clips of the brutalities of ancient Rome. These brutalities are compared to the modern “brutality” of UFC fighting (a totally ridiculous comparison!) What Moore could and should have pointed out was Rome’s giving out of free bread and neglecting the nation’s many slums in favor of unfeasible military expansions abroad were two very important factors that played a part in her ultimate demise.
Moore spends a lot of time on the influence of the big banks, like Merrill Lynch, but without a good working knowledge of the scandals at question, the viewer can become lost in a flood of clips that are not well explained. Surprisingly little time was spent hammering America’s poor healthcare. Scholars and academics have such a love affair with Cuba’s healthcare system because it is “universal.” That’s a magic word with liberals.
Moore seems to be coming up short. This, his latest “power to the people,” romp is in some ways informative, but not sensational enough as a film. And who are his viewers, his devoted fans? The borderline nuts who stand in rallies and hold up signs that say “Capitalism = War!” For the life of him, Moore just doesn’t realize that his views of a socialized America, where business owners and network executives make $7.95 an hour, along with pizza delivery guys and housekeepers, is not thinkable.
It’s not always pretty – and yes, there is some social Darwinism involved – but if you ask this writer, capitalism is still to be preferred. If you are smart enough, strong enough, inventive enough, and determined enough, and you care to take advantage of the right opportunities, then you too can make something of yourself. If not, then I’m sorry. Life isn’t fair. Never was. Bottom line, someone has to deliver that pizza I ordered!
Grade: C+ (2 stars)
Director: Michael Moore
Summary: Michael Moore explains the abuses of American capitalism.
Starring: William Black “Himself,” Congressman Elijah Cummings “Himself,” Baron Hill “Himself,” Marcy Kaptur “Herself,” John McCain “Himself” (archive footage), Jimmy Carter “Himself” (archive footage), Ronald Reagan “Himself” (archive footage), Michael Moore “Himself”
Genre: Documentary / Drama