Roger and Me. I loved Bowling for Columbine, cheered Fahrenheit 9/11 with its condemnation of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq and approved of Sicko which took dead aim at health care in America.
Michael Moore has always been a champion of the little guy and not been afraid to criticize the powerful and greedy. I've laughed and cried with him and always enjoyed his pseudo documentary style. But this time I think he went too far. Or, perhaps I have just gotten tired of the Michael Moore formula the way I got tired of Woody Allen ( although I still think Annie Hall is one of the greatest movies ever made.)
A Combination of Karl and Groucho Marx
In Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore is a combination of Karl and Groucho Marx with a bit of Thomas Paine thrown in for good measure. These surely are the times that try men's souls and Michael Moore issues a stinging indictment not only of corporate excess( which I was expecting)but also of the entire system of free market capitalism (which kind of shocked me). The film opens with a wonderful visual comparison of the decline of America to the fall of ancient Rome and ends with a stern warning of revolution in the offing. As the credits roll, the background music playing is the Internationale( the socialist anthem) which left me thinking that Moore is expecting revolution from the left... from the downtrodden American workers with whom he so identifies and whose plight he outlines so brilliantly.
I'm not so sure. Perhaps that is what leaves me feeling so uncomfortable. I see in our current situation unfortunate parallels to Germany as the Nazis came to power. I think given the anger of the huddled Republican masses on the far right, that a Fascist revolution is equally possible.
Either way, I don't like the idea of revolution and that is the underlying theme of this film. It is not a documentary but a docu-drama and an impassioned plea for a fairer world. Like the pundits of the far Right, Moore aims at the heart and not at the mind-- a dangerous thing to do when times are tough and people are afraid. Revolutions, like wars, are unpredictable. You can start out going in one direction and end up somewhere else entirely. I have to say it scares me. Moore is sincere in his message and passionate about his point of view, but I am uneasy. It all seems a little too pat. The jokes and the irony sometimes seem a little inappropriate given the gravity of the subject....kind of like laughing at a funeral oration.
The build up to this movie has been big. I blogged an early promo some time ago. My friend Loup d'Argent has written three anticipatory posts about it on his blog Forward and Share. Internet and TV pundits have been buzzing about it like teenage girls at a sleepover for months.
I was excited too. But now I don't know. The actual film was like a shotgun blast that left me reeling. It inflamed my anger and expanded my fears. Did I love it or hate it? I really don't know,but I'm feeling scared and I'm humming the Internationale under my breath.