In Theaters: Capitalism: A Love Story
[Editor's Note: Please welcome Michelle Orange, a former Movieline guest film critic turned staff critic today. She'll be contributing two in-depth reviews per week.]
No one makes me want to go back to Canada more than Michael Moore. Not even Bush II, frequent subject of Moore's clammy wrath: Where W. had a (crude, acrid) way with doctrine, some profound, core certainty within -- call it my sanity -- wouldn't let me believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that his brand of horseshit would get over; Moore, meanwhile, crafts his agit-prop with the sort of populist finesse that slides right home.
When Bowling for Columbine came out, for instance, I still lived in Toronto, in the very downtown, Italian neighborhood where Moore went opening people's unlocked doors. Yes, I thought, this is better, this is where I live. Then I moved to New York.
Since then I have watched Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and now Capitalism: A Love Story, in crowded Manhattan theaters, and despite many misgivings about the films themselves, and an acute awareness of Moore's agenda and skill as a propagandist, I'm certain that each time I left the theater with the look of someone who just ate the whole thing: My God, what have I done?
Both the most defeated and the most hopeful of his recent socio-political indictments, Capitalism is a bumpy, involving ride. It finds Flint's lonely, schlubby man trolling the country for a read on the post-meltdown state of the union. After a glib sequence comparing the United States' recent economic crisis to the fall of Rome, Moore, in full knowing, storybook form, narrates footage from a series of home foreclosures in progress. We get very little context about these homeowners, as Moore goes straight for the killer imagery of "working class," "middle class" and "hard-working" people being removed from their homes. It all seems, of course, like madness.