Capitalism: A Love Story (R)

Michael Moore pays a visit to the U.S. Capitol in Capitalism: A Love Story. COURTESY OF OVERTURE FILMS

By Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

People who decry his films as self-serving exposes of previously known facts that only preach to the converted miss the overriding achievement of what makes Michael Moore important. For all his lack of objectivity and occasional fact-twisting, Moore takes on dauntingly complex subjects — the health care industry, gun control, political abuse of power — and turns them into hugely entertaining, provocative pictures. You don’t necessarily have to agree with Moore to enjoy his movies, although agreeing helps. I can’t imagine that too many Goldman Sachs board members are going to be fawning over Capitalism: A Love Story, in which Moore depicts our country’s affair with capitalism as a romance gone horribly sour.

In his usual mix of vintage film footage, TV news clips and fresh interviews, Moore argues that capitalism has devolved from being a system of giving and taking — which in the 1950s allowed people such as his father, a middle-class auto-industry worker, to pay off his house by the time Moore had entered kindergarten — into a system of mostly taking.

Capitalism: A Love Story illustrates its thesis by hopping from subject to subject, and some information may be new to viewers who don’t keep up with their CNN: Airline pilots so poorly paid they have to rely on food stamps and part-time waitressing jobs to get by; a judge who accepted bribes from the privately run juvenile-rehabilitation facility to which he sent kids for posting gossip on their MySpace page; or a little-known policy known as “dead peasants” (which was news to me) in which blue-chip companies such as AT&T take out secret life insurance policies on their employees, naming themselves as sole beneficiary.

Moore also scores some indelible home-video footage, such as film a family shot as the cops started busting down their door in eviction proceedings. Moore’s overall tone in Capitalism is more muted and less comical than in previous films (although several sequences in which he shows up at the offices of corporate giants, trying to interview their CEOs, are so tired even the security guards who ward him off look bored).

The movie is a call to arms, or at least to action, although Moore never specifies what that action should be. But this lively, infuriating and occasionally moving film certainly leaves you thinking, and there isn’t a dead spot in it. That’s the mark of a real filmmaker, not just a muckraker.

Writer-director: Michael Moore.

Producers: Michael Moore, Anne Moore.

An Overture Films release. Running time: 126 minutes. Vulgar language. Playing at area theaters.


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