Filmmaker Michael Moore apologized for being late to the premiere of his new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. President Obama, a guest on David Letterman, was clogging traffic and Moore got caught up in his motorcade. "We could have just kept going," said Moore from the stage of Alice Tully Hall before a packed and patient audience that included actors like Allison Janney, Tovah Feldshuh, and Wallace Shawn, as well as a family, the Hackers, who had been evicted from their home on land that had been owned by their family for decades.
Their tale of woe is just one illustrating the ills of capitalism limned in this typical Moore satire. Yes, this big hearted guy is up to the old shenanigans, those hijinks we've grown to love from his Roger & Me, featured in the New York Film Festival 20 years ago, through such Moore classics as Bowling For Columbine, Fahrenheit 911, Sicko, only this time the ironies cut even closer to the bone. Sure, some of his visual riffs run inconclusive, manipulated to make a point about enemies as familiar as Bank of America, Citicorp, and Goldman Sachs, and a government who, since 1980, in Moore's estimation, runs our country like a corporation without compassion or even the checks and balances in place that made our country so successful in the post Depression era.
Not only do you see people evicted from their homes, corporations that take life insurance policies out on their employees thereby benefiting from their deaths, but we also see civil disobedience: workers refusing to leave a factory without the pay owed to them, and a family squatting in the home from which they were evicted, the legal theft, a byproduct of capitalism. Moore shows clergymen denouncing capitalism as evil and, in a hilarious visual, Bush invoking national fear while the room around him crumbles. What is the cure to capitalism? Democracy, says Moore.
Whatever you may think of Michael Moore and his movies, one great reason to see this one is the footage he uncovered in an archive in South Carolina of President Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights which ensures the right of individuals to have a job, a fair wage, and health care. Said Moore in the Q&A with Tina Brown following the film, "Americans are going to see for the first time what Roosevelt hoped this country could be." Someone from the audience then asked, does he think Obama has lived up to his expectations. "I want Obama to see my film," he replied. "I think the Justice Department should conduct an investigation of Goldman Sachs. My movies are acts of patriotism and hope."
One further irony: large tour buses took the euphoric crowd downtown to a lavish after party in a penthouse one could only be describe as illustrating another side of capitalism: a show apartment with spectacular views and game rooms clearly meant for a Master of the Universe, or at least, a hedge fund guy from the 1990s.
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