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Sunday, October 4, 2009

'Capitalism: A Love Story'

I’ve read a handful of reviews of ‘Capitalism: A Love Story,’ and regardless of whether the critic in question enjoyed Moore’s film, many of them call it unfocused. I, on the other hand believe that Moore has finally made the film he has always wanted to make. This seems to be his summation, the cinematic equivalent of an emphatic ’I told you so.’ Yes, Moore takes aim at a plethora of targets, but they are all in support of his thesis that there has been a catastrophic failure, that it is indeed time to write our beloved capitalist system a ‘Dear John’ letter with a vitriolic pen. Does that always make for a film with laser-like precision? Perhaps not. Yet, I am perplexed beyond words to read critics extolling ‘Bowling for Columbine’ as Moore’s most focused work. In ‘Bowling’ Moore explored everything from white flight to this country’s gentle treatment of corporate criminals, even going so far as recycling his Corporate Cops skit from one of his T.V. shows. ‘Bowling’ was so scattershot that it nearly lost sight of its titular tragedy. ‘Capitalism’ finally gives Moore a canvas big enough to paint in broad strokes.

Sure, Moore falls prey to some of the same pitfalls that have plagued his previous efforts. Perhaps the most irritating of these is Moore’s habit of making fun of Americans, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is one as well. After a brilliant montage that juxtaposes the fall of Rome with prominent American figures, Moore falls into his argument-weakening condescension. ‘How will future generations remember us? ’ For this? He then shows a goofy internet video of cats flushing toilets. Or for this? as he shows his first victim of foreclosure. Is the brief giggle elicited by the flushing felines really worth poking fun at the country he proportedly wishes to help rescue? Though this is nothing compared to his assertion in ‘Bowling’ that the only safe weapon is one in the hands of a Happy Canadian. When will Moore realize that when he does these things he plays right into the hands of those who say he hates America? Wouldn’t his point be better articulated if rather than featuring the potty-trained pets, he had instead highlighted a uniquely American triumph, and then set that against the same scenes of foreclosure, because this country is unfortunately capable of both?

Moore’s most persuasive point in favor of sweeping change comes when he shows a clip of Franklin Roosevelt proposing a second Bill of Rights. (Call me biased if you must, but I think it’s no coincidence that this country’s first handicapped president was the first to realize the need for programs to help the common man and the disadvantaged.)

I enjoyed ‘Capitalism A Love Story’ and I actually consider the fact that Moore goes beyond the current crisis the film’s greatest strength, for it is merely a symptom of an ill whole, the inevitable collapse of an unsound structure.

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