Tuesday, October 06, 2009

capitalism: a love story

michael moore's latest is probably his worst film. okay, i guess i should say his worst documentary.

in his last few movies, moore has had an increasingly hard time staying focused on his original point. fahrenheit 911 started as a film about 9/11, but then it gets distracted by the iraq war and goes off on that instead. sicko is mostly a critique of the american health insurance industry, but then literally sails off course to cuba. but while those two still manage to get across a basic thesis, "capitalism" feels more like a collection of distractions.

the individual anecdotes that make up the film are entertaining enough, those stories are just strung together. they spiral around moore's basic critique of capitalism rather than build into a coherent argument. i think that's because moore doesn't have an argument. what he does have are a bunch of examples of people suffering because of the profit motive. they do highlight some serious problems and some of those examples could potentially be used to build a coherent critique, but moore lacks a coherent critique to hang them on. so instead we have a big muddle. a sometimes entertaining muddle, but a muddle nonetheless.

if you want a documentary that is a sharp critique of the prevailing economic system, the corporation does a far better job. if you want to understand the circumstances behind the current economic crisis, you're better off listening to these three episodes of "this american life." there probably is a potential documentary that probes the origins of the economic crisis and builds that into a strong critique of capitalism. unfortunately, "capitalism: a love story" isn't it.