‘Capitalism’: Can you take it to the bank?
You know what I wish? I wish that Michael Moore weren’t such an obvious manipulator of the facts. He’s such an unreliable narrator that it gets in the way of my enjoyment of his films.
Latest case in point: “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which I saw at the L.A. premiere Tuesday night. The provocateur rails against the government’s handling of the finance crisis in typical fashion: He satirizes the powers that be and tugs the hearts strings with stories of average working folk afflicted by corporate malfeasance.
Moore blames the government for its cozy relationship with Wall Street in particular and big business in general. According to “Capitalism,” things began falling apart when Ronald Reagan was elected president; deregulation and mindless focus on profits laid the seeds for the economy’s collapse last year. Further, he presents archival footage of FDR suggesting none of this had to happen: The ailing president apparently wanted to enact a second Bill of Rights stipulating the right to a decent wage and healthcare before he died. Moore told the premiere audience that this footage had been purposefully suppressed; even FDR’s library didn’t know it existed.
All very intriguing but are we getting the full story? With Moore you can never count on it. Same goes for the progressive businesses spotlighted here; are they really as he paints them?
Don’t get me wrong: There’s much to be outraged by onscreen, and the movie can be very funny. The footage of Moore and his father, then and now, is also charming. And Flint, Michigan’s unexpected role in the nation’s housing bust provides an additional personal twist to the narrative.
But the big guy’s shtick is wearing thin. Did we need to see him go again to the headquarters of GM and be told he’s been doing this since “Roger & Me”? Not really. Moore’s not above taking cheap shots either.
It’s too bad — these predilections undercut his case. And his filmmaking.
Nice touch, however, to host a splashy Academy bow for the film on the one-year anniversary of the Lehman Bros. collapse.