CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY
Review by Michael Jacobson
Director: Michael Moore
Audio: Dolby TrueHD5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 127 Minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2010
"I think we need to spread the wealth around." - Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, 2009
Film (star rating withheld)
My history with the films of Michael Moore are well-known to long time readers of DVD Movie Central. I haven't found much to like about the films or the man who robbed documentaries of their prestige as a cinematic art form.
Most know I completely disagree with his politics, but most are also aware that has nothing to do with the contempt I've always held him in. I don't agree with Spike Lee's politics either, but his movies I tend to love. The difference is that Lee doesn't insult my intelligence, and that he's an actual artist who enhances his art form instead of reducing it to it most base and common levels.
No, my animosity toward Moore is much simpler to explain than that: I don't like being lied to, and I don't like being treated like an idiot. That is the distinction between those of us that don't make up his core audience, and those who do.
But this time, my approach to Moore is a little different. I've deliberately withheld what would have been a no-brainer zero star rating for his latest effort, Capitalism: A Love Story. And the reason? Right now, I can't help but feel a little sorry for him. That may change tomorrow, but today's the day I'm writing this review.
I feel sorry for him not because his financial situation is in any danger; there are enough mindless and clueless minions marching in intellectually vapid lockstep to keep him rich. But now, that's it. Once upon a time, movies like Bowling For Columbine reached audiences well beyond his robotic followers. Then it came out how much of his movie was fabricated, staged, and factually dishonest to a level not surpassed until An Inconvenient Truth.
Fahrenheit 9/11 earned enough notoriety to become a box office hit, but again, the people beyond his sphere were outraged to find Moore once again playing fast and loose with facts and creating an alternate reality. The end result...the re-election of George W. Bush by the largest margin of victory since his father's win.
That was then. By the time Sicko came out, the lines were clearly drawn. Anyone with a modicum of common sense or basic intelligence chuckled at the very audacity of his premise...health care is better in Cuba than in the United States? His army followed and cheered rabidly with fists in the air and blank looks in their eyes, but Moore had, by that time, completely blown any credibility he ever achieved with independently minded and clear thinking Americans.
And now, add horrible timing to his list of problems. He sought the recent recession as an opportunity to rush out a shoddily made rape of economic intellect, but now that Capitalism is about to debut on disc, America has had a year of experiencing the kind of economic policies and climate he mindlessly advocates. And they have rejected it to the tune of sending many prominent Democrats voluntarily packing in Congress and giving Ted Kennedy's cherished Senate seat to a Republican.
I skimmed through the movie, mostly shaking my head, and thinking of something I heard recently about The Big Lie, as attributed originally to Adolf Hitler (and before you reach to click on your email icon, let me say plainly what should be quite obvious: I am NOT comparing any elected official or Moore himself to Hitler). The idea is that when you want to deceive the masses, you can't be timid, and you can't go small. You have to boldly come up with the most outrageously false premise you can come up with and unshakably support it in spite of the facts and the truth. People will tend not to believe that a leader would really lie so blatantly and in such a large way, so the end result is, they accept it.
The recent exploding of the global warming hoax is a perfect example; the lie was so big that trillions of dollars have been wasted, millions of jobs have been lost, and millions of school children have been brainwashed into Al Gore's cult and keeping his personal treasure coffers lined. And now that the global scheme of deliberate disinformation has been laid bare, Big Liars have refused to give up that their once expansive mansion has been reduced to smoldering ruins. And the lie was SO big, some people still show up with their suitcases to live in it.
Moore tries unshakably to pin the blame of our financial woes on capitalism. To him and his like-minded automatons, capitalism means unfair division of wealth. To the rest of us, it means near limitless economic freedom and opportunity. To him, it's exploitation of individuals. To us, it's the ability of every individual to rise to the level of his or her God given talents and willingness to work, sacrifice, and pursue dreams. A capitalist looks at any person, regardless of race, background, or status, and tells them "if you're willing to work for it, there's nothing you can't achieve in America". The anti-capitalist says, "not without our help, you won't."
It's laughable to watch Moore condemning the rich when he himself is one of them, or to spew venom at Wall Street when he himself has been a shareholder in companies like the liberals' dreaded enemy Halliburton. He has always supported socialism, but only for the rest of us. For himself, he keeps his millions and skirts Hollywood union rules by refusing to call writers writers.
But it's all a moot point for two reasons. The first is, as mentioned, we've had a full year now to see his economic dreams in action. And we don't want it. We've seen our president smile and assure us that if we don't make a quarter million a year, our taxes won't increase, while those of us who don't fall into that category look at our paychecks and find more money seized. We've come to understand that government involvement in housing forced banks to lend money to people who could never pay it back, and caused even my father's house to drop in value by more than half, and their answer is to redouble their efforts to get even more unqualified buyers into homes they can't afford. We've seen the political elite use noble causes like caring for the environment as tools of torture to get more and more of us to willingly surrender more and more of our economic liberties to them while they drive our debt into critical mass.
We've even seen the government take unthinkable and unprecedented advances into the private sector, seizing control of banks, lending institutions, two major car manufacturers, and it's not stopping. Against the overwhelming will of the American people, they are not stopping until they control our health care as well, and leave decisions on who gets to live and who gets left to die to bean counters instead of doctors.
The second reason, as also mentioned, is nobody is listening to Moore anymore. Nobody outside of his own ring of Kool-Aid drinkers, I mean. I look at the cover art for this disc, and what is the first blur of critical praise from? A noteworthy newspaper or magazine? A prominent or prolific television show? No...The Huffington Post. That says it all. By the time Moore makes his next shoddily crafted house of fantasy, he might actually be reduced to only a thumbs up from Keith Olbermann.
There are serious economic discussions to be had, of course, but as usual, a Michael Moore film impedes intellectual debate rather than inspires it. My feelings for Moore have not changed, but I can't kick a man when he's down. He's been reduced to an insignificant dictator, banished to the nether regions of intelligent argument where he lords over the monkeys, wallows in his own feces, and still tells himself he's a king.
There's no point in marveling that a Michael Moore film, which has absolutely no sense of artistic value or cinematic aesthetics can make Blu-ray while countless others still wait for high definition treatment. Capitalism in HD is about as useful as the most expensive high powered pair of binoculars on the foggiest day in history. It's not the fault of the medium, but you can only dress up a turd so far; it will never look like filet mignon.
Again...an HD soundtrack was thoughtful, but was it even necessary? Spoken words are clean and clear throughout, but as you might expect, dynamic range and any kind of discreet channel usage is extremely minimal.
If you're a fan, and you think Moore has a valid point with the movie, enjoy this parade of more and more clips as he continues to argue for the indefensible. I found it a rather boring and repetitive collection of talking heads and nonsense, but the fact that he actually asks “What if we listened to Jimmy Carter in 1979?” is all you need to know. Gas lines, runaway inflation, widespread unemployment...yes, Michael, those are the days we want to relive!
Capitalism: A Love Story serves only one useful purpose, and that is to fully divide and define the difference between those who make up Michael Moore's followers and those of us who don't. And right now, I have no hard feelings about that. Let them all continue to go outside and play together...we've got more important things to do.