Michael Moore’s Capitalism shortchanges the audience


It’s no secret that Michael Moore’s films, though labeled “documentaries,” should be called “diatribes.” While the filmmaker might twist the truth a bit here or there, he’s more guilty of the sin of omission where his presentation of facts is concerned. He’s come under considerable heat taking this approach when dealing with such hot-button topics as gun control, the tragedy of 9/11 or health care. At times, his tactics have overshadowed his politics. Moore often winds up being his own worst enemy. While I admire his work, despite his approach, he’d be better served if he stepped out of the spotlight and let his considerable filmmaking skills do his work for him.

His latest effort, Capitalism: A Love Story, is arguably his most important film, as it takes on the economic system our country is built on at a time when questions abound as to its stability. Too bad it ends up being a meandering exercise that lacks focus and is missing the emotional pull that made Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine such compelling and moving works.

What’s curious is that Moore doesn’t deviate from his tried-and-true approach, presenting one grave injustice after another in an effort to stoke the audience’s ire. We are witness to a Peoria couple being foreclosed upon and then paid $1,000 for cleaning out their own property. We are told of blue-chip companies, Wal-Mart and BankAmerica among them, who make it a common practice to take out “dead peasant” insurance policies on employees so that when they die, the corporation collects the death benefits. We’re told of a scheme in Pennsylvania where the juvenile delinquency system was privatized and hundreds of teenagers were unjustly jailed for profit. We see pilots so underpaid they have to donate plasma to pay their bills. We learn how a lack of regulation made our economic system collapse. The government bailout plan is revealed as the fraud it is.

While this review may resemble nothing but a list of random events, it’s reflective of Moore’s film and its major fault. All the pieces are here, all the dots have been plotted but the director fails to connect them in a way to achieve the emotional knockout punch he’s shooting for and the film desperately needs. Ironically, Capitalism displays the worst elements of a diatribe. It’s nothing more than a wide-ranging rant lacking focus.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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