Cheating, lies, betrayal and even abuse have caused this love affair to turn sour. That’s Michael Moore’s take on capitalism in his new documentary: Capitalism: A Love Story, which was screened in Harvard Square 5 movie theatre Wednesday evening.
Love him. Hate him. No matter what your stance is, Moore is on-target with the portrayal of how capitalism and corporations have pushed people out of their houses, jobs and savings accounts. This film is a call to arms for the audience to stand up the way he does”¦ well, maybe with fewer theatrical antics.
“This is a movie I have been making for the past 20 years” Moore said in a Q&A after the film.
Totting a loudspeaker, Moore demands a citizens’ arrest for the board members of AIG. He also wraps yellow crime-scene tape around the New York Stock Exchange Building. It is clear he is trying to make a statement and create a comic effect rather than an attempt to actually meet these wheelers and dealers, as he knows (as we do) they will dodge his calls and not show their faces.
That being said, Moore has clearly not lost his flair for street-side tactics (though there significantly less street scenes catching people off-guard, than in Fahrenheit 9/11), or his tenacity for representing the disenfranchised.
“It’s a system of taking and giving”¦ mostly taking” Moore said, describing capitalism.
He knows this all too well, coming from Flint, Michigan where decades ago, his father lost his job as an assembly-line worker at General Motors. Rewind twenty years and he was confronting GM’s CEO Roger Smith in the documentary Roger & Me (1989). In Capitalism, he is seen standing alongside his father in front of an empty lot that once was a spark plug factory where his father used to work. We humanize Moore in a way that we might not have been able to in his previous documentaries. In the film, Moore opens up about his childhood aspirations to be a priest.
He proceeds to the part of the film that I consider the most astonishing: examining the connection (or lack thereof) between Christianity and capitalism. He talks to three clergymen from Michigan and even a bishop who agreed that capitalism is not lined up with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Moore used footage of films portraying Jesus Christ, in probably the funniest part of the film. On the issue of healthcare, the film cut to a scene from a movie with Jesus Christ trying to heal another man, but Christ is dubbed over saying, “Sorry, but you have a pre-existing condition.” Another scene shows Jesus Christ with the dub, “Go forth and maximize profits.”
The film quickly transitions from hilarious moments to sad stories of working-class families being evicted from their homes because their mortgage rates skyrocketed. Moore seems more restrained in manipulated statistics and imagery and sequences of imagery in this film, but, with lack of a back-story on these eviction cases, we are left to wonder if, in some of the situations, the families might have been complicit in their own financial ruin.
He also lays out what is called the “Dead Peasants” insurance by which a corporation can take out life insurance policies on their employees and when they die, reap millions in tax-free payouts.
Moore joked, “So, you know, I could get fire insurance on your house.”
Moore also explains how two Pennsylvania judges sentenced children, some for minor “crimes” (one boy explains that he threw a piece of meat at his mother’s boyfriend) to a privately run facility in order to get millions in kickbacks.
All in all, it’s not so much a film filled with conspiracy theories as it is a film to shine light on real issues perhaps not known or hidden from the masses.
The only difficulty Moore encounters is that there too much Moore for just one film. Whereas the film Sicko tackled the pharmaceutical issue, and Bowling for Columbine the gun control issue, this is a multi-prong issue that branches off into healthcare, the mortgage/banking fraud, job loss, etc. Put shortly, it tries to cover too much: When you think it’s over, it’s just starting to talk about the economic meltdown, which could be a movie in and of itself.
Powerful, passionate and inspiring, the film had more fight than Oscar de la Hoya on a good day. The audience gave him a standing ovation as he entered the room.
“I’m glad you guys have Goobers and Twizzlers and not pitchforks and knives” He then said “Aren’t you surprised I can saying this kinda stuff and be in an AMC theatre on a Friday night?”
When asked when he’ll make another movie he responded the audience member, “When are you going to make the next movie?
“I am totally fried,” Moore joked. “Maybe I’ll make a romantic comedy.”