238 of 275 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2009
"Capitalism" opens with disclaimer from some old film, and then segues into scenes from police videos of people robbing banks and convenience stores. Moore likes to make comparisons. In this case he wants to show us who the real thieves are, and they don't tend to be desperate drug addicts wearing hoodies.
To me that's what Moore's latest film is: a cinematic treatise on crime. Moore uses his excellent skills as an editor to piece together films in a manner that makes you want to scream "Where does he find this stuff?" to paint a telling picture of what America is: a plutocracy. And yes, Mike uses that word and wants us all to learn it, even providing a definition straight out of a textbook.
What Moore also excels at is humanizing crises and the class war by showing us just who's affected by these forces and why. We're shown people, real people being thrown out of their homes, being pushed out of their jobs, being paid meager salaries to do dangerous, complicated work, and being informed that companies profited from the deaths of their loved ones through something called "dead peasant insurance."
He even speaks to various clergy to try and find any sort of modern moral justification for capitalism. He can't. One priest even goes as far as to state flatly that "Capitalism is radically evil."
Speaking of all things radical, Moore puts himself on the line by trying to raid the offices of financial institutions, implores us to do the same, and backs that strategy up by showing current examples of how dissent and popular revolt can turn the tables on the gluttons in power, even if those victories are as small as one family being allowed to stay in their foreclosed home and window factory workers given severance payments after a long sit-in.
However, what "Capitalism" isn't is a mere bleeding-heart piece that is all emotion. Mike tends to do his homework. And that's what makes him a firebrand. The evidence is laid bare for the viewer to see.
There are some who would call Michael Moore and his documentaries "anti-American." He's even told by one Wall Streeter to "stop making movies" when trying to get an accurate definition of what are called "derivatives." Although I would definitely call Moore a subversive, I challenge anyone to find an ounce of hatred towards America in this piece. No, Michael Moore loves America, but his America is made up of those who toil and have little or nothing. His America is being looted by people that can only be described as white-collar sociopaths who would be selling heroin or whoring out young girls had they not been brought up in wealthy families.
You also get a generous serving of Michael's trademark humor to make it all go down easier. It has been said that the best way to take the powerful down a peg or two is by poking fun at them, and Moore doesn't just poke at them, he runs them through with swords of bitingly comedic steel.
If I had one gripe about "Capitalism" it would be that there was so much more ground that could have been covered. That's why I feel that a sequel is in order as well as a prequel since Moore rather glosses over earlier American history. But I suppose that's what he have Howard Zinn for.
Yes, this is a paramount polemic against capitalism and dare I say FOR socialism. Even Bernie Sanders gets some facetime.
As someone who has been identifying as a socialist for years, I can say that it only reinforced my belief that the free market is unsustainable, as if my personal experience as an American worker hasn't been enough to do so. Demons lurk in the details though, and Moore not only shines a light of veracity on them, he also splashes them with holy water, as any left-leaning Catholic such as Moore would.
Christ wasn't a capitalist sympathizer, something Moore also shows us, and neither is Moore himself. So why should you be? It's not in your best interests to be one. Think of this as an intervention by way of motion picture for your friends and family who are thoroughly in love with an abusive spouse that is all take and no give.
Talk about a great candidate for an ABC Sunday Night Movie. If I could hold screenings for "Capitalism" I would. It needs to be seen by far more people than any action/adventure blockbuster.
Thanks for makin' the devils hiss, Mike. And for making socialism taste so good.
87 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2009
Once upon a time people were "taught" to think the King spoke for GOD and that was that. Today we are "taught" Capitalism is the "natural order of things" and "works better than any other system". Both arguments were used to uphold the divine right of Kings. Some things never change. People want leaders. Why,is beyond me. Even the Old Testament tells Israel you may have your King but it will not make you happy.Great movie, Mike. Your best yet. Problem is, people do not have a vision of how to live in a world without "Leaders". Without a vision of non-hierarchical power structures people are clueless to what replaces them. Democracy was started into play in America,in a small way--but became still born by the 1840's. Since then it has just been a tool of power for the wealthy to steal from the poor.I really wish Michael Moore had stayed with and backed Ralph Nader. President Obama is going to break his heart.You told a great story, Mr.Moore. A true story. If you make a wonderful romantic comedy in which everyone turns out HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY!!! in the end with great wealth due to the wonders of Freedom and the Free Market you would make a ton of money. I bet the folks that ran the Colosseum in Rome made a ton of money also. Thanks for the effort. In your "Love Story" you told the truth. People want the pretty lie. I loved how you re-cased Jesus as Milton Friedman,genius. Give my love to the good Fathers in your film. I really mean that. I have lived so long that the Roman Catholic Church has become less hierarchical than my government.More just also. Will go back and see the movie again and buy the DVD as soon as possible. Hope we meet in the streets someday. Now that would be change!!!!
62 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
The short list of what can be considered documentary film classics has yet another wonderful addition by legendary filmmaker Michael Moore. It is a visual spanning of the history of corporate influence over our political leaders and how this has poisoned the entire establishment nearly beyond repair. I will never forget the segment of a presidential speech, showed roughly around the beginning of this film, of a man standing behind president Reagan who leans in and says angrily in his ear: "HURRY IT UP; WE DON'T HAVE ALL DAY!" The camera then freezes on Reagan's shocked face as the narrator simply asks, "Who speaks to the president like this?" It graphically shows you how much influence is measured by the corporations over our political leaders. This film in particular strikes higher notes than Moore's previous films in that it takes you back to the roots of earlier documentaries and brings out more ample and articulate forms of evidence in support of the general thesis. Capitalism: A Love Story seeks to expose the corruption of our varied form of greedy Capitalism, and to replace it with a more democratized base system, typically referred to as Leftist-Libertarianism or Libertarian-Socialism.
People in the United States generally speak of Socialism as something awful, pointing to Russia and China as examples of the dangers of far leftist thought. But if they would simply take the time to read into some of their literature of political theory, they would realize that there are branches within the movement which are infinitely distinct from those totalitarian nations. It is a category mistake to assume that socialism entails totalitarianism, as if what you see in Russia and China were totally across the board. To any of you interested in getting a thorough education on this subject, I would recommend you checking out the following books: Anarchism: From Theory to Practice Chomsky on Anarchism
37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This movie is absolutely wonderful. It is funny from the beginning to the end, yet "delightfully serious" at the same time (note the paradox). It is very unfortunate that this movie did not get the acclaim that it should have. More people should see it. It opens our minds and our hearts to the fact that capitalism is at the bottom of all this. Right in front of our eyes "capitalism" says that profit is more important than human need. How could this be? Is it more important for someone to make a profit or to give a needed operation to a sick child? Moore's attention to fundamental Judaic-Christian-Islamic values ultimately, that emphasize duties to one another and to "do things to the least of these" is noteworthy and refreshing. It is as if such fundamental spiritual wisdom has become lost. How unfortunate! It is a very moving film, especially toward the end when he has President Roosevelt give his famous Four Freedoms speech. In the mid 20th century, the US was such a moral leader. What happened? The movie could have been enhanced if Mr. Moore then spoke about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which to a large degree is a legacy of Roosevelt's Four Freedoms. The Universal Declaration, which includes rights to worship, rights to work, health care, adequate shelter, and security in old age, is now increasingly referred to as customary international law, which all nations must abide. In any event, this movie will definitely give us something to think about.
76 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2010
Let me take the moment to give you TWO THINGS about this movie that made me take TWO STARS away from the five-star review it could of received...but first, let me make a disclaimer about Mr. Moore:
The last time I considered myself a "liberal" was for about a semester in college when I was interning under a "liberal" professor. Prior to that I was always conservative-minded...and pretty much still am, every college student goes through some sort of liberal phase. That being said, I think Michael Moore has always made great movies. Even though I don't agree with gun control, universal health care, or socialism, I still feel his films have provided an education on government and corporate corruption that a mass audience can enjoy while being enlightened. Moore's solutions are always a little too idealistic for my tastes, but I'm glad he has been there for 20+ years to be an agent of critical thinking to the general public.
That being said, here is what I DISLIKED about "Capitalism: A Love Story". (I am not going to talk about what I liked or agreed with in the film, because that was pretty much everything except for what I am about to mention).
First, I take a star away because this film seems to try to be anti-capitalism when it's real target is NOT capitalism but corruption WITHIN capitalism. Wal-Mart taking out life insurance policies on employees, privatized penal systems, and job-loss due to outsourcing are not default results of capitalism. These are examples of the greed and violation that occurs when capitalism leads to single entities having too much power. However, if it were not for capitalism, well, lets just say Michael Moore might have to show his movies after midnight in very private places to very select audiences.
Next, and this is the BIGGEST flaw of "Capitalism", I take a star away because of the severe [...]that Barrack Obama gets in the last third of this movie. I am not sure what the future holds for President Obama's legacy, but I do know that it is absolutely ludicrous to call a guy a saint before he has done a single thing. Also, take a look at guys like Paulson and Geitner...they still have jobs under Obama, don't they? In fact, aren't they more powerful under Obama? Read the news, day after day you'll see that Mr. Obama is putting more and more power in the hands of Wall Street cronies and the Federal Reserve.
I feel that Michael Moore is terribly mistaken in putting so much trust into the man who would be president. The reality is that Barrack Obama and the Democratic party are a different face to the same beast that employed George Bush and Bill Clinton. Powerful bankers, corrupt judges, lobbyists, greedy globalists...the presidents have carried out the bidding of these schmuck's since Kennedy was assassinated. Obama is no savior to the ailments of capitalism, he is just another sap who sold his soul to the evil machine.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
Cut away the pro-union, pro-New Deal mushiness and Michael Moore's "Capitalism, A Love Story" has a vital core worth considering. Twenty years after "Roger and Me," Moore shows he still has pop on his filmmaking fastball. At every point where I was ready to write off "Capitalism" as a fruitcake leftist screed, the writer/director/actor dug up a fresh angle I couldn't ignore. Unless you're on the board of Goldman Sachs, director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, or both you'll likely conclude that "Capitalism, A Love Story" is a balanced movie.
The film is testament to Kevin Spacey's 2009 comment about the arts being a necessity during a time of economic crisis. Hundreds of newscasts don't register on the mind and soul the way Moore's art does in minutes.
Moore succeeds for the opposite reason that Tim Geithner fails up (fellow followers of the Mises/Austrian School see our exposition of the state and its purchased intellectuals affirmed by Moore in his take on Obama's Treasury secretary). Moore refuses to tell us what we want to hear or see. His brand of social criticism reminds me of one of Hillel's dictums in Judaism's Ethics of the Fathers (2:6) - "...A person excessively involved in business cannot become a scholar and where there are no leaders strive to become a leader."
The artist is trying to put his finger on a big problem. While the moral poverty of the wealthy is a major issue it's far from the whole story. Moore's viewpoint is a blue-collar critic animated by Roman Catholic sentiment. After slogging through the beastly jungle to give us a new vantage point, the filmmaker ends his production with an appeal. This made me think that Moore wants "Capitalism, A Love Story" to fire people up and get them talking. If so, kudos to Moore.
Yet anecdotes and a rich-vs.-poor mindset will take us only so far. These things are emotionally compelling yet they can mislead. For example, Moore opines that one of the main reasons that Americans suffer the inequities of capitalism is because most want some day to be in that top 1 percent income bracket. This is a thought I've long harbored and I'm glad an artist of Moore's stature has put it out for public reflection. But this is far from a sufficient explanation and the film points toward that. When the Countrywide mortgage executive says "If I didn't do it someone else would have" we glimpse something of the enormity - people aren't just morally lax; they desire to keep their jobs because of fears of letting their families down and losing the wealth that they have. This is not lost on Moore because elsewhere in the movie, in commenting on the 2008 pre-election bank bailout, he well surmises the power of fear.
Moore's shorthand in labeling economic and social injustice "capitalism" is likewise too simplistic. To call people losing their homes to foreclosure "capitalism" is like calling the mass murders under Hitler, Mao, and Stalin "socialism." The terminology is imprecise. These situations are social crises.
The filmmaker is right to see that business has gotten too big and impersonal. Although he's somewhat critical of government, Moore implies that big government (through more regulations and FDR-style proclamations of additional rights) will arrest the march of crony capitalism. His interviews with Roman Catholic clerics imply that big church might stop the raging bull of Wall Street. Funny that Moore begins his film comparing ancient Rome to modern America and leaves us with the impression that the form of Christianity bequeathed to us by the old empire is going to stop the slide of the United States. I'd like to say stranger things have happened but I can't think of anything stranger than this prospect.
Moore will come much closer to the truth by reviewing his movie and realizing that bigness is inherently corrupting. America's Protestant culture and heritage must also be taken proper account of. What will right America is a block-by-block revolution in thinking and action that prizes communal mindedness (to use a term from a teacher of mine, Rabbi Mayer Schiller), humility, and brims with an ethos of "small is beautiful." May this come soon in our days. If and when it does Michael Moore's "Capitalism, A Love Story" will be regarded as an important road sign on our journey there.
29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2010
Michael Moore's parting words in this documentary serve as a great summary of what he was trying to convey in his film:
"We live in the RICHEST country in the world. We all deserve a decent job, health care, a good education, a home to call our own. We all deserve FDR's dream. And it is a CRIME that we don't have it. And we never will, as long as we have a system that enriches the few at the expense of the many. Capitalism is an evil and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for ALL people. And that something is called DEMOCRACY."
Side Note: FDR's dream was the following (from his January 11, 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union) -
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people--whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth--is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
A new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all--regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
* The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
* The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
* The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
* The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
* The right of every family to a decent home;
* The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
* The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
*The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.
FOR UNLESS THERE IS SECURITY HERE AT HOME, THERE CANNOT BE LASTING PEACE IN THE WORLD.
32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2010
i saw Capitalism by Michael Moore and this movie really hit a nevre.
It's not just about Republicans or Democrats, it's about crooks on both sides of the issue. All are accountable in this current and ongoing financial mess.
From Hannity's God-Ronald Regan himself, to Clinton and W, this was a never ending cycle not so much of capitalism, but of greed overall.
Banks, Corporations, and money running this country. The Treasury department full of AIG people allowing fellow competition to fail while fattening their own pockets and that of their friends.
All are accountable. This movie really hits home when you see every day people being jived by the very people designed to take care of them. People loosing their homes and being thrown into the streets, one Congress-woman fired up with all the shenanigans going on while at the same time, leading Democrats are making back door deals with Bush and the Republican parties not for the betterment of the country, but for their own re-election.
The outcry became, do nothing, jobs are lost, economy collapses. So in their own personal survival greed, the Congress reached across the board and bailed the very banks who brought us to the brink of economic armageddon, only to see those banks payout their own bonuses before anything else.
In the true world of Capitalism, if you fail, you fail. Nobody bails out homeowners who lose their homes and are thrown into the street. Capitalism in reality is survival of the fittest, and yet here, when the Banks and mortgage companies failed, the Congress, not the people, bailed them out.
Moore's film is not only the best of his films i've ever seen, but it's also the most frustrating to watch knowing what happened.
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2009
Everything Mike does is the greatest. Everything he ever said has come to pass from the first Roger and Me to Sicko.
I can't wait to see it.
Barack should take advice from him instead of the sell outs to big pharma and health insurance.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2009
Controversial documentarian Michael Moore has taken on some important news topics over the past two decades but perhaps none has affected every American more than the financial meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 as depicted in Capitalism: A Love Story. Done in his customary style of news clips, interviews, and enactments, he has fashioned a convincing indictment of greedy bank executives while being engaging and at times enlightening.
He points out a startling fact: We used to be one income family, Wall Street and corporate profits were guided by sound principles, and our country had no business competition. It's a kind of history lesson courtesy of Moore as he also notes parallels between the demise of Wall Street and that of the Roman Empire, a comparison not without merit.
His thesis is that since President Ronald Reagan came into office, the influence of Wall Street has increased to the point that, while Congress and the U.S. Treasury have promoted financial deregulation, many of them have direct links to financial giants such as Goldman Sachs. It would seem on surface to be a major conflict of interest, and that is the point. A handful of CEO's have benefited from running the country as a corporation and costing millions of jobs and livelihoods.
Moore ties news stories to an increasing pattern of corporate greed. There is a juvenile facility in Pennsylvania financed by taxpayer money and corrupt public officials. There are college students beholden to banks with student loans, and we witness news reports of a recent plane crash in Buffalo, New York, for what appears to be the lack of funds for safety issues. Then there is the surprising practice of businesses like Wal-Mart that take out life insurance policies on its employees and collecting on the benefits. By contrast, he does show examples of companies owned by workers that operate efficiently and at a profit. His point is there can be win-win situations.
As Wall Street sold `derivatives', a risky form of corporate gambling, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested that Americans tap the equity in their homes, and thus came the refinance boom for banks and a new found wealth for the masses-or was it? Using a home like a bank was a formula for financial disaster as the housing industry collapsed with foreclosures and the banking industry fell too. Moore makes his point with footage of actual foreclosures as sheriffs evict homeowners, and the cruelty is not only losing a home but in the cottage industry that has taken advantage of this agonizing process. Added to this is the preferential treatment that CEO's gave to each other and many lawmakers regarding mortgage approvals. The question that keeps being asked by Moore and others is `where were the regulators' in all this?
As Congress debated on how to repair the economy with a bailout of as much as $700 billion of taxpayer money, Wall Street used media abetted fear to manipulate lawmakers. It was a politics of fear. But not everyone was buying into the fear. Some members of Congress were brave enough to tell a sobering tale of a lack of oversight versus corporate bonuses being fed by the bailout.
Moore shows that some people are fighting back. A new President (Obama) ushers in the potential for change. People are fighting foreclosures and forcing banks to prove chain of title. The laid off workers at Republic Doors refused to exit the factory, and with media coverage and a supportive President, Bank of America caves in and agrees to pay the workers what is owed to them. This event is not without precedent as Moore points out in 1936, workers at a GM Flint, Michigan plant also fought back. In an ironic, fascinating piece of history of what might have been, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed but never lived to see a second Bill of Rights which would address virtually every important concern for Americans including health care, education, and financial security.
Then Moore makes this observation based on a private corporate memo that says 1% of the population in this country has 95% of the wealth but that the other 99% have an equal vote and the power to make changes (yet still hope to be part of the rich). It is this equal vote that scares the corporate powers. His conclusion is that the only hope for this country is for democracy to work.
Some things don't come off well in the film; Moore appears to be grandstanding when he rents an armored car to make a citizen's arrest of the CEOs of Wall Street and get back the public's money. He even takes crime scene tape to cordon off bank doors. Also, an interview with actor Wallace Shawn seems a bit out of place. Wouldn't an interview with an industry insider have worked better? You may not agree with everything Moore espouses, but some of the information should cause anyone to research the facts and draw their own conclusions. If you are a fan of his previous films Sicko or Fahrenheit 9/11, then you will appreciate Capitalism: A Love Story.