Archive for October, 2009

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Capitalism’s Quagmire

October 3, 2009

Undoubtedly, “Capitalism: A Love Affair” is the most significant movie of the year, if not the new century.  In it, filmmaker Michael Moore deconstructs the events of recent history into a logical progression of facts supporting his view of our current economic quagmire.  What is incomprehensible to ordinary people unfamiliar with the chaotic machinations of economic theory and experts foolish enough to claim otherwise, becomes a clear reflection in his rearward looking glass.

Anyone even remotely familiar with Michael Moore knows that he is the single most successful documentary filmmaker of all time, a feat more notable considering the lack of furry mammals as the subject matter  of his documentaries.  Early in his career, he instinctively understood that to breakthrough the disinformation created by the political manipulation of news as entertainment, the traditional, dry, detached and uninvolved approach to documentary films would not work to bring the important issues of the day front and center to an apathetic audience.

His solution was to create entertainment value through a stylistic approach to storytelling that included both thoroughly researched, lost and forgotten archive footage, a humorous approach to defeating hypocrisy, the very template for Jon Stewart’s  “The Daily Show”, and the insertion of himself as hero into the story, the same technique that has made Stephen Colbert the bon vivant, Jack-The-Giant-Killer of comedy news.

He accomplishes the latter by staging and filming doomed publicity stunts such as attempting to confront villains with a citizen’s arrest, backing up a Brink’s Armored vehicle to corrupt financial institutions and requesting that they place their ill gotten relief monies in a large canvass sack to be returned to the taxpayers, or wrapping banks in do-not-cross, yellow crime-scene tape.  These tactics, like the many others in his previous films, have endeared him to his fans and vilified him to his enemies, surrounding him in controversy while securing an audience who will listen to otherwise dry and boring issues. These issues will impact their lives more than the combined news coverage of Anna Nicole Smith, O.J., Brittany Spears, Michael Jackson and the stalemate of political inaction and neutralized opposition created by the farcical efforts of both the Democratic and Republican parties and the ranting CNN blogs and endless polls that foster the illusion of meaningful democratic involvement.  For Michael Moore there are no sacred cows.

From the film’s opening sequence that intercuts current events into a dated, educationally produced film about the decline of the Roman Empire, to the long overdue analysis of Ronald Reagan’s role in the destruction of the American way of life, be it dream or reality, to the rare footage of FDR’s proposed 2nd Bill of Rights and the awareness that every post-war, reconstruction government’s constitution, like Japan and Germany, created with our help and supervision, contain all these rights, rights not granted to U.S.citizens, Michael Moore drives the wooden stake into the heart of the vampire more effectively than the action heroes in the neighboring Cineplex halls.