"Capitalism: A Love Story" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

3/11/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

"Capitalism: A Love Story"

Directed by Michael Moore, Written by Moore, 126 minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

It's difficult to examine a Michael Moore film from an objective point of view. Conservatives are almost certain to find things to hate, liberals will eat it all up, and certain groups will simply disregard his work as simplistic, fear-mongering and propagandistic. No one can be truly right, and personal opinion can't help but come into play when deciding how successful Moore's films are.

Myself, I tend to agree with Moore, despite some occasionally ill-advised techniques, and above all I find his films to be great entertainment. Even when he's not really making much of a point, his films can be amusing. "Bowling For Columbine" doesn't really even have much of a thesis, but it manages to be one of the most entertaining films of the last decade and it won Moore the Academy Award for Best Documentary. So how does "Capitalism" stand up to his previous work, and does Moore manage to be entertaining regardless of his message?

For the most part, "Capitalism" is a pretty weak effort. Moore has been hinting at his heavy socialist leanings for his whole career, but he never went full-on anti-Capitalist until now. He doesn't outright condemn capitalism as an idea. Instead, he more examines the modern American interpretation of capitalism and how its corrupted form has resulted in a great gap between the upper- and lower-class and the exploitation of the working people for the profit of corporations and their CEOs. He does this through interviews with various people, be they former executives, unemployed people whose houses are being foreclosed, Realtors, bankers, economists, former government workers, etc. There's even an entire segment that explains how little a pilot gets paid, even bringing up Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his plane in the Hudson River, and his actions to reveal how poorly a pilot is paid.

The film goes all over the place, which "Columbine" also did, but the latter film covered such a large variety of topics that it all came together rather well because it didn't have one specific theme. Here, Moore wants to condemn American capitalism, but it's difficult to bear some of his techniques to do so when he accuses corporations of using similar techniques to win people's affection. He explains that during the recent Wall Street bailout that Congress didn't approve of giving them any money but were manipulated with fear tactics to change their minds. Not that Moore doesn't make solid points on occasion, but he certainly uses similar fear tactics to do so. He starts the film with an excerpt from a '50s educational film about Ancient Rome, and he juxtaposes it with footage of modern America, basically saying that the same system that led to Rome's fall will lead to the fall of modern America. How is this not fear-mongering? And I can only watch teary-eyed interviews so many times before getting tired of Moore trying to manipulate the viewer.

Sure, it's an emotional topic, but once or twice is enough--there's no need to have scene after scene of tears and outrage and screaming. Whereas his previous film "Sicko" used such techniques in a more subtle and emotional way, here it just feels completely false and excessive. And where is the sharp satire prevalent in "Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9/11"? This film is almost all deadly serious and depressing. Moore has always made propaganda--it's a harsh word for some, but it has a clear-cut definition: "a message or technique used to persuade to a certain side or cause." But where Moore previously managed to balance the propaganda with entertainment, here he seems to be solely in confrontational mode, which would be OK if his message weren't so sloppily conveyed, not to mention he doesn't really appear to have any sort of solution to the problems he confronts.

"Capitalism: A Love Story" isn't a bad film. It manages to emotionally resonate in certain spots and yes, some solid points are made, sometimes in clever ways, but it's a shame the film couldn't be quite as well-constructed as Moore's previous and far better efforts. And overall, how you feel about the film will all come down to two things: how you feel about Moore, and how you feel about capitalism.

Grade: C

View the movie trailer for "Capitalism: A Love Story" below. What are your thoughts?

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