By William Wolf


Forget whatever you have learned in textbook studies about capitalism. Provocative filmmaker Michael Moore lays it on the line in his inimitable style and it definitely isn’t a love story. This isn’t a standard documentary either but a Michael Moore op ed-type piece on film, in which he accomplishes the task of entertaining us while also shaking us up emotionally by showing the devastating effects contemporary capitalism has had on families subjected to unemployment and foreclosures on homes. But Moore is no mere deliverer of bad news. His film is also a call to the American people for action to reverse a situation in which the rich get richer while others are mired in tragedy.

Moore sets the tone at the outset with scenes dramatizing the excesses of the Roman Empire mixed with contemporary clips, thus drawing a sharply amusing visual parallel. On screen as well as director, Moore also challenges the powers that be. Hilarious scenes include his attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of those who profited from the bailouts and even cordoning off financial centers with long strips of tape labeled “crime scene.”

For all the wit that can afford pleasure to those of us appalled at the inequities to which Moore points, the guts of Moore’s treatise are his reportage on the toll the system has taken on people who have suffered mightily. The angry, tearful responses of families being kicked out of their homes are wrenching. Putting a human face on the statistics of workers who have lost their jobs is enormously effective.

Moore places the situation in a historical context. He includes clips of the famous sit-down strikes in Flint, Michigan, his home town, a landmark in union organization. He shows what modern day action can achieve by focusing on a group in Florida that fights evictions by re-installing a family into their home and banding together to prevent their ouster. There is a great newsreel clip of Franklin D. Roosevelt not long before his death during World War II declaring that the Constitution should be amended to include an added Bill of Rights extending to citizens a list of economic and well-being guarantees. The suggestion was never adopted, but Moore stresses the irony of how some of these very rights were written into the laws of the countries we defeated in World War II.

Moore can be glib with his historical overview, but that hardly matters in the context of his convincing indictment and the need for shifting the balance so that grievances can be redressed and the course of the country changed. Moore’s film is packed with passion, intelligence and heart. It is quite a phenomenon. The director’s ability to proselytize while entertaining an audience and make us laugh one minute then prompt tears the next is a rare gift. If ever a film deserved to be widely seen, this is it. An Overture Films release.


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