Movies: Capitalism: A love story * * *
(PG, general release)
Published 26/02/2010 | 05:00
Having attacked gun culture, Dubya and the decrepit US health system, there probably was no other topic left for arch-provocateur Michael Moore to tackle than the whole capitalist system itself.
Like all of the big man's work, Capitalism: A Love Story is an entertaining mixed bag with some unquestionably powerful and potent moments, but the unwieldy, all-encompassing nature of the subject matter deprives Capitalism of the kind of laser-like focus and rage that so ignited Bowling for Columbine and especially Fahrenheit 9/11.
Moore once again uses interviews, case studies, archival footage and cartoons to lay out his argument, mixing the sombre with the farcical, as he sets out to examine just how and why capitalist society, and by extension democracy, has become so corrupted.
He casts the net wide -- too wide sometimes -- to look at the subprime housing crisis, worker exploitation, and the parasitic influence of big business on ideas of fairness and equality.
As an investigative film-maker, Moore manages to unearth some truly shocking material: the example of a bank that cashes in on employees' deaths by way of an underhand policy sensitively nicknamed the 'Dead Peasants' insurance, for example.
Similarly, the latter section picking apart the causes, and effects, of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, is jaw-dropping and enraging to watch, while a sequence focusing on a never-realised Second Bill of Rights proposed by Franklin Roosevelt, is undoubtedly stirring.
But Moore also undermines his arguments with some bizarre errors in editorial judgment: namely relying on an actor to provide socio-economic context, and -- without any hint of irony -- allowing several members of the Catholic Church to condemn capitalism as a corrupt and immoral institution.
Of course, the main problem -- and it's a distracting one -- is that Moore leaves himself open to all manner of hypocrisy charges, seeing as he has benefited extremely well from the very ideology and system that he's indicting, inadvertently proving the point that capitalism only continues to thrive by assimilating its critics.