A documentary by Michael Moore. Rated PG. Opens Friday, October 2, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
For Michael Moore, Capitalism isn’t so much a love story as it is a sad, sarcastic letter to an ex-wife who let him down, took his money, and continues to behave in a bizarrely destructive manner.
Watch the trailer for Capitalism: A Love Story.
The relationship, or at least that between his parents and the middle-class machinery of the 1960s, began as a happy one. One unionized job at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan, was enough to keep a whole family afloat—until the big companies started merging and figuring out ever more ways to maximize profits at the workers’ expense. Since “spokesmodel” Ronald Reagan (as Moore calls him) ushered in an era of unprecedented deregulation—the religion many Republicans actually mean when they say “Christianity”—corporations have figured out ever more exotic ways to game the system, leading up to the ongoing mortgage-derived crisis.
The new film is nowhere near as detailed as American Casino and other current docs on the same subject, but it does convey the sense that the resulting collapse—and subsequent bailout with public money—was absolutely inevitable, given the feeding frenzy Goldman Sachs and other leading Wall Street firms have been in since the 1980s. And the filmmaker certainly knows how to entertain; even if he does inject his own aw-shucks presence into more confrontational scenes than we really need to see, he makes a number of sharp jabs we didn’t see coming. How many viewers will know, for example, that companies like Wal-Mart and Citibank are taking out insurance policies on their employees and naming themselves as beneficiaries?
In the end, the film goes a little too soft on Barack Obama, who still offers some glimmers of hope for reform. But Moore makes it plain that whatever Wall Street can’t own, it fatally compromises. And big-D Democrats took a lot of money from Wall Street before the last election.