on October 30, 2004
I've seen all of MM's movies and this is one of his very best.
His first movie, "Roger & Me" is perhaps his best. Michael Moore is the voice to the voiceless in this true story about big business taking advantage of the little guy. GM closes it's factories in Flint, MI putting thousands of people out of work. The entire film revolves around the hardworking people of Flint as well as Moore's quest to find GM CEO, Roger Smith.
The movie is 15 years old, nevertheless it is still extremely realistic. We still have the same issues concerning the sluggish economy and corporate downsizing. Maybe the movie is even more powerful in 2004?
Michael Moore is a genius and I hope he will keep speaking up for the everyday workers of America. If you're interested in other Michael Moore projects I also recommend the movie Bowling for Columbine & the book Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American.
on June 3, 2002
When I attended the premiere screening of Roger & Me at the Sundance Film Festival several years ago, things were already abuzz about this controversial film, and it was making headlines in movie trades, newspapers, talk shows, and social circles, about this unconventional unknown teddy bear of a guy named Michael Moore who set out with just Bingo winnings and a camera in the pretense of getting a personal audience with GM Chairman Roger Smith, and offer Mr. Smith a tour of the deteriorating town where "rats exceeded its population" and was named the worst city to live in by Money magazine. The film is a daring and cynical poke at a capitalistic system that, with smugness and phony piety, can turn out and lay off 30,000 factory workers for the sheer purpose of profit. But, rather than giving in to the easy way of anger and resentment, Michael Moore retorts with a gentle and entertaining masterpiece, a splendid statement, rich in irony, humor, and pathos, that should be viewed by anyone whose social conscience has been impinged by what so many people pursue as the "American Dream". But this American Dream is work hard, the company makes money - and you lose your job. If I had more than 2 thumbs, they would go way up for this highly provocative film!!
on September 17, 2002
This hilarious, disturbing, and completely original documentary launched its director, Michael Moore to fame. Moore's film shows what happens when General Motors decides to close down its plant in Flint, Michigan. 30,000 people lose their jobs and Flint's economy plunges into depression.
The film details Moore's attempt to get an interview with GM head Roger Smith to show him what he did to Flint. Instead, Moore is given the run-around as he is informed that Smith is out, unavailable, or busy.
Undaunted, Moore points his camera at the people of Flint to show us the viewers what GM did to Flint. We are shown a man who suffered a mental breakdown after losing his job. We are shown a spaced-out woman who has formed a most interesting business to ward off unemployment. We are treated to pictures of the upper class living in complete oblivion to the poverty surrounding them ("Get a job!" one woman informs Moore). We are informed that the crime rate has skyrocketed in Flint since the plant shut down. But not to worry, this provides a new source of employment. Laid-off employees can now get jobs as security guards locking up their former co-workers.
A few scenes that really stood out in my mind: One was the way the sheriff goes from house to house evicting people with a bored expression on his face. When Moore questions him about how he feels about doing this, the sheriff looks completely baffled. Instead, he talks about how he is looking forward to his upcoming holiday. Doesn't he realize he's on camera? Another scene that stands out, the people of Flint trying to offset unemployment by developing a theme park dedicated to celebrating Flint's GM heritage. When the park fails to attract tourists, the people are left looking pretty stupid.
There's also that scene where Ronald Reagan shows up to treat the unemployed workers to pizza and give them a lecture about finding employment. He then forgets to pick up the check.
It's important to realize that GM didn't close the plant in Flint because they were in an economic downturn, but because they didn't want to spend a little extra money keeping people employed. GM devastated Flint's economy so that the people at the top could get a little richer. Moore's film transcends being just a revenge comedy and becomes a stinging indictment of the dark side of capitalism.
You can't help but feel that Roger Smith would have been better off if he'd agreed to the interview. Instead, Michael Moore chose to point his camera at Flint, giving Smith a much more damning indictment than an interview ever could.
I'll be looking forward to seeing Moore's new film "Bowling for Columbine" when it's released in October. I hope its as good as this film.
on September 3, 2003
Say what you will about Michael Moore, but I think the guy knows how to make some very entertaining and interesting documentaries. I may not see eye-to-eye with him on a lot of things, but this was one entertaining film! This is the one that made his career what it is today. Highly praised by critics and audiences all around, "Roger & Me" proves to be a fascinating documentary filled with humor and heart.
The film revolves around the closing of General Motors factories in Flint, Michigan. The closings causes families to lose their homes, their jobs, and most of all their well-being. Michael Moore is determined to get General Motors Chairman Roger Smith to come down to Flint and see the devastation his company has caused. Of course, just trying to MEET the man throws all sorts of obstacles in Moore's way... and it's all caught on film! All of this equals an entertaining documentary that is unpredictable and untamed.
I'm not that big on documentaries, but I have to admit that I enjoyed this one. Michael Moore does an excellent job of bringing to light problems that may seem so insignificant to the rest of the world. And he's determined too, which is why this all works. He tries so many times to get in touch with Roger, no matter what kind of trouble he runs into. His passion is easily observed through this movie, that's for sure.
The DVD isn't the grandest of DVDs. It's not in widescreen, but for a movie like this it really isn't that big of a problem (I'm not even sure if this was originally shot in widescreen or not). The picture and sound quality is pretty good, considering how old it is. The theatrical trailer and commentary are the two special features on the DVD. I think an important film of this caliber should've received better DVD treatment, but what can you do? It is what it is.
"Roger & Me" is a surprisingly witty and sharp documentary that shows you a side of Big Business that was never meant to be seen. Coming from a guy who doesn't really fancy documentaries all that much, my advice to you is to pop this baby into the DVD player and strap yourself in for one wild ride.
on January 2, 2003
"Roger and Me" is a wonderfully bitter documentary by Michael Moore, tracking Moore's attempts over the course of three years to get a face-to-face interview with Roger Smith, CEO of GM, which crippled the city of Flint, Michigan by closing its factories and relocating to Mexico. Ostensibly, this is to save money, according to GM's spin doctors, but this makes no sense because they're one of the most profitable corporations in the world at the time they close the factories.
When Moore realizes he can't nab an interview with Smith, he instead focuses the film on the effects Flint is suffering following their primary income source's departure.
For the broad scope of things, Moore watches a parade whose route passes countless boarded-up windows and dilapidated buildings. He follows a sheriff's assistant who looks almost bored as he evicts numerous people from their homes in the month leading up to Christmas. And he tracks embarassing attempts from the powers-that-be to improve the city through stupid ideas like an indoor theme park celebrating GM's history in Flint and a towering hotel that nobody in the city could afford to stay in.
On personal levels, Moore speaks to a high school classmate getting evicted from his house, an assembly line worker-turned-prison guard who observes he's in charge of a number of ex-coworkers, and an assembly line worker who committed himself to a mental institution the day the last plant closed because he couldn't take being fired by GM for the fifth time in as many years.
And through it all Moore keeps us from turning away in disgust by making us laugh, peppering the documentary with snide comments and asides about the upper class (like the country club folks who say none of these problems would happen if the auto workers just went out and got new jobs---kind of hard to do with the rest of the city closing down in a domino effect, folks) and GM's spokesperson who refuses to do her job and speak to Moore, while the people doing their jobs are getting fired.
You'll be angry and your perspective will be altered, but you'll have a good time anyway, thanks to the cutting, startlingly honest and funny "Roger & Me".
on July 11, 2004
In 1993, I took a graduate seminar in documentary film making and was introduced to "Roger and Me". Unfortunately, for Michael Moore, there are so many people tied up in the political implications of his work that they fail to realize that "Roger and Me" is probably the best documentary film of all time in terms of style, content and presentation.
This movie is an expose on General Motors closing of several plants in Michigan and the subsequent effects of those plant closings. Nuff Said...It happened...so you can be pissed at GM for moving its factories to Tijuana where they can get workers for 33 cents/hour or, you can buy into Adam Smith's classical economic hypothesis put forth in "Wealth of Nations" and think that GM did the rational thing. The question is, how do you present this information to the uninformed world?
In terms of style, Moore's narrative is historically rich and laced with deadpan sarcasm. Many people have criticized the film for its "biased" presentation of fact. Wake up! This is not a CNN news broadcast, nor it it a press relase. It is a documentary, and as such, it must have a thesis. Moore presents a strong thesis: General Motors does not give a damn about suffering of American workers. He backs it up with statistics and qualitative content in his narrative. There is never a question left unanswered about why GM did what it did and what the official company line was on the issue. For a good documentary to work, you see it has to fill in some blanks, therefore, the film should not be criticized for being "biased".
While the content of "Roger and Me" gives the viewer a healthy dose of the consequences of class-war, the true art is in the way that these consequences are presented. In Roger and Me, Moore proves that he is the master of "quick-cutting" from the sublime to the shocking. Such sharp edits have to be admired. For example, at one point Moore is interviewing some upper-class people in a beautiful pastoral setting. They are talking about how people should "take control of their situation" if they do not have a job. Then suddenly, the film cuts into to a run-down neighborhood where families are being evicted from their homes. Moore uses this technique several times in Roger and Me cutting from the innocuous settings of the upper-class to the harsh realities of the working-class. The effect is as devistating to the viewer as going 60 MPH and then running smack into a brick wall.
While you may disagree with Moore's politics, people should at least appriciate what he has done for the documentary film-genre.
on July 5, 2001
We will express our support for universal human rights and, particularly, those of our employees,the communities within which we operate, and parties with whom we do business.
--Excerpt from GM's Core Values & Guiding Principles
Michael Moore's Roger and Me is the tragic satire of the dismantling of the middle class, blue-collar community in Flint, Michigan. This documentary focuses on the closing of the town's largest employer-General Motors-resulting in the loss of over 30,000 jobs and the destruction of Flint's economic culture.
The film is a litmus to the bitter realities of "business gone bad"-or worse...gone bureaucratic. GM was more than an industrial leader to its employees-it was the cornerstone of life in Flint-an industrial Mecca. Employees believed in the vision of GM, lived the industry's values and devoted their careers to its existence. Those who lost their jobs during the plant closing in the 1980s also lost self-identity, self-respect and integrity for their personal lives.
Terminated GM workers were forced to find any means to make a living: Amway franchises, lint roller factory work, plasma donations, prison guards, Taco Bell line cooks (where most GM workers were terminated because "line work was too fast and stressful"). One woman morbidly resorts to selling rabbits for pets or meat. As Money Magazine dubs Flint "The Worst Place to Live in America," the film is threaded with daily evictions of families who cannot make rent, and the never-ending search for Roger Smith-Chairman of General Motors-as well as an overdue explanation of why GM disenchanted its employees.
From Pat Boone to the Hyatt to Miss America to Auto World, no one could save Flint from its demise. According to a GM spokesperson,"GM has not promised and does not owe employees cradle-to-grave security." Ironically, its guiding principles state something completely different.
Micheal Moore has made a name for himself in Hollywood for his eye- opening documentaries. "Roger and Me", started it all, with a look at Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan and the ongoing economic problems faced by its citizens.
The reason the city of Flint was chosen isn't just because of its economic woes. It was also chosen because it is Moore's hometown. He grew up in Flint and his dad was an employee at one of the local General Motors plants. This background provides a good basis for making a documentary about GM and its influence on the local people of Flint. Moore has experienced the drama first hand, so he knows what it is like to witness people as they go from the assembly line to the unemployment line.
Roger Smith, the former chairman of GM, is the centerpiece of this documentary and Moore spends much of his time in the film trying to find Smith and conduct an interview with him. Smith eludes Moore throughout the documentary. Only on one occasion does Moore get a chance to talk directly with Smith- at a GM shareholder's meeting. And even then, the results are less than satisfactory because there is too little time to talk and Smith seems unprepared and defensive.
Humor, frustration, and devastation are all important ingredients of this documentary. I particularly enjoyed the scene with a woman who skins rabbits and uses their fur for her business. She just stands there, with the cameras rolling, butchering bunnies like its nothing. It' funny and weird at the same time to watch this woman willing to do whatever necessary to make a living. There are also plenty of scenes of the city of Flint, showing abandoned businesses, empty homes, and other sobering signs of a city in depression.
For a first- time documentary, I think this one is very good. Does it show all sides of the issue? Not really. Does it offer alternatives for those coping with the shutdown of assembly plants? No, it does not. It makes everything seem very helpless and tragic, which I exactly how Moore intended it to be. But it's still an interesting documentary to watch, with plenty of memorable moments and a message that causes one to think and rethink his/her stand on corporate influence and the effects of outsourcing and plant closures.
Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore made this documentary in 1989 but it is sadly still very pertinent for American life in 2004, it is still a tale of big corporations making a mountain of money at the expense of middle class and poor workers.
Michael Moore is a pest, irritating and opinionated to the ninth degree but I admire him like no other, what other American is willing to take as many stabs at his reputation and just keep on filming the truth? I agree that some of his films have moments that go over the top for conservative Republican types but for us humble left wingers he remains one of our richest voices against the machine called "corporate America." Moore is thinner and youthful in this film from 1989 but he was just as badgering and willing to take a fall then as he is now. In this film he takes on the devastating affect that GM and its Chairman, Roger B. Smith make on the town of Flint, Michigan when they choose to close down the manufacturing plant located there. Moore is filmed in his many attempts to meet with Smith only to be met by constant refusals; it seems Smith wasn't able to stand up to his own heat! One subject in the film states that the corporate world is all about making money and this film brings that awful truth to a head as 18,000 workers loose their jobs in Flint, MI.
Moore has a way of filming that sets forth the truth, adds a touch of humor and then stops your heart. He shows how the rich only get stronger, while under the blanket of corporate security, while the security the workers expect can be pulled out from underneath them before they have a chance to right themselves. GM was financially strong during the time this film was made but it still decided to lay off over 30,000 workers from several plants in America so that it could move the facilities to Mexico and only have to pay the new workers seven cents an hour.....well you just can't beat that, right? Amazingly so this very same issue is a forefront in today's political agenda, do we, or don't we? I believe Moore is trying to say no! When American workers suffer with layoffs and entire town devastations the rest of America eventually suffers as well, unless you live in a manor overlooking a lake and have the letters CEO attached to your name of course. Moore follows Roger B. Smith to private clubs and films a Christmas speech while intermittently showing the GM workers being physically evicted from their homes. Pretty powerful stuff!
Many aspects of this film are significant, some of the cleverest scenes revolve around displaced workers trying to make ends meet and the continuous stream of people being forcibly evicted from scraps that they have made into homes. Where can the justice be in a woman with small children being taken from a home with a caved in roof, should rent really be paid on a rat hole? I can just imagine the landlord on Christmas day! Another scene that bothered me is one in which a woman tries to make a living by skinning her rabbits; it's a brutal scene and not one for animal lovers or anyone who disguises where the meat on their table came from. So the saga of Flint continues and hopefully the heart of Michael Moore will carry on until this very American problem is resolved, the middle class is becoming poor and the poor falling off the face of the earth into oblivion if we keep up what we are doing. For now we need Moore's unwavering voice to spread the bad news and hope for a better way because "Roger" could be coming to your town next.
on May 29, 2002
If terrorists laid waste to an American city, we would universally call them evil. Strangely, when a corporation makes a decision that guts an american city, some who worship at the altar of unfettered capitalism would cheer. "Roger & Me" is a film that shows how a bottom-line based decision of a corporate CEO can turn a once vibrant industrial city into a ghost town.
It is an indignant film, as it should be. The victims of GM were not laid off because they were unproductive since GM was profitable. They were laid off because of greed. GM can no longer claim to be an American corporation when they would shut down an American city so they can have cheap labor off shore.
Some have said that Michael Moore was obnoxious and disrespectful, but it can be argued that what Roger Smith did was far more obnoxious and disrespectful.
Michael Moore uses humor to help viewers digest bitter realities of American life. In this case, the humor comes from the absurd advice given to laid off workers by city leaders and celebrities brought to "bring them cheer." The film is also heartbreaking and you will never listen to "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys the same way again. Some have criticized his intercutting the GM christmas party speech with a family getting kicked out of their homes on christmas eve as manipulative. Every day we are manipulated into believing that unfettered capitalism is American as apple pie, so we should forgive Moore for using manipulation on the behalf of the little guy -- the average joe.
I recently watched this movie again in a background of the Enron scandal. This movie was remarkably fresh after all these years. This film has a scrappy feel to it, but it is brilliantly put together.
I hope that you watch this movie and its follow up film "Pets or Meat". Read his books and he will have another movie opening in the Fall called "Bowling for Columbine" which will be just as controversial. Buy the VHS version of "TV Nation" and get both seasons of "The Awful Truth."