Michael Moore makes controversial films. To call them documentaries is a miscategorization, though there really isn’t a word for what he does. He juxtaposes ideas, images, and words and lets the viewer fill in the missing connections. He plays a little fast and loose at times with his facts, but you always leave the theater thinking. And a day later, I still find myself thinking about Capitalism: A Love Story. The movie is a complete condemnation of capitalism. Moore is extremely clever with his images – beginning the film with comparisons of the decadence that brought down Ancient Rome to the current corporate ownership of the US government and disparities between the rich and the poor. He bombards you with facts and figures and you see poor people being thrown out of their houses because the rich men on Wall Street don’t give a damn. As with all his films, it is about the working class getting screwed. And Moore brings out the big guns here, having a series of priests agree that capitalism is evil. What makes a lot of what he says palatable though is his comedic sensibility, putting Crime Scene tape around Wall Street, dubbing Jesus in some biblical epic film with free market clichés.
I went to Capitalism: A Love Story with my mom and we both learned things that we did not know, like the fact that FDR wanted to have a second Bill of Rights that guaranteed citizens a job with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a home, medical care, education and recreation. We also learned (much to my concern since I am planning a couple of trips) that airline pilots make so little now that many are on food stamps just to make ends meet, and that many big firms take out life insurance policies on their lowly employees that benefit the company not the families. For Moore, Capitalism is the enemy of Democracy, and he makes a good case.
Capitalism: A Love Story is a must-see no matter what your political stance. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, you cannot leave the theater without having a lot of questions swirling around in your brain. And for me that is the best kind of movie.