Michael Moore

Roger & Me 94
[ review ]

Canadian Bacon 22
[ review ]

The Big One

Bowling for Columbine 79
[ review ]

Fahrenheit 9/11 80
[ review ]

Sicko 67
[ Having recently seen the anti-Michael Moore docu “Manufacturing Dissent” (and interviewed its directors), watching his latest was an odd experience. I’m a Moore fan, even though I feel he’ll never make another “Roger & Me”-level masterpiece again, because that film was so personal, his trademark twists on conventional documentary techniques were then unheard of and he was still an underdog. As for the “Manufacturing” accusations, it’s long been obvious that Moore’s movies are manipulative, hardly subtle and not above taking narrative shortcuts. Watching “SiCKO”, I was particularly aware of this. Then again, even when you’re aware of Moore’s tricks… They’re still good tricks! Dude takes a potentially boring subject (do we really wanna be watching an exposé of the failings of the American healthcare system? it’s certainly not as explosive a subject as gun violence or the evils of President Bush) and makes it gripping, moving and, quite often, bitterly funny. I assume there are a lot of cut corners, exaggerations and maybe even some flat-out lies thrown in there (don’t know about France, the UK and Cuba, but Canada’s healthcare system is nowhere near as flawless as Mike makes it look). But goddamn it if the flick didn’t play me like a violin! As I mentioned to Melnyk and Caine, the only mistake I feel Moore has made over and over is to say he’s making non-fiction. If he’d just put himself in the company of satirists like Stephen Colbert, Trey Parker and Sacha Baron Cohen, people would allow him his dramatic license and “truthiness”. Then again, some folks get pissy about “Borat” too, so… ]

Captain Mike Across America

Slacker Uprising

Capitalism: A Love Story 65
[  I used to love Michael Moore, but… Well, I still like him, but it’s telling that it took me three years before bothering to watch his latest. There are a few things at work here: for one, I feel that each Moore flick more or less seems to be lesser than the previous one. To me, “Roger & Me” is a stone-cold masterpiece. Skipping ahead a bit, “Bowling for Columbine” was pretty great as well… And “Fahrenheit 9/11” was rather memorable too, though by then we knew the formula (and shortcuts) rather well… Then came “Sicko”, which was good enough, but hardly as impactful in popular culture as the three aforementionned titles. And now (well, three years ago) we have “Capitalism: A Love Story”, which doesn’t feel like a unique kind of documentary anymore, but like one of many, many films that similarly use satire, montage and filmmaker-as-character beats to get their message across. Even the subject is hardly original: how many documentaries have been made about the 2008 financial crisis? Too many to count, I’m afraid. All that being said, there’s no denying that Michael Moore can still be effective, if not as distinctive and refreshing as he once as. Take an early sequence drawing parallells between life in Ancien Rome and 2000s America: not the most original idea, but the execution is clever and pretty striking. Then you’ve got a bunch of heartbreaking footage of people being evicted from their homes.. Again, nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s still painful to watch. Most impressive is the way Moore manages to get genuinely evil capitalist bastards to talk on camera about how it’s sometimes all about taking advantage of the weak and unfortunate – one guy litterally compares himself to a vulture! It’s everything we’ve grown to expect from Michael Moore movie… No surprises, but still good stuff! Every other sequence is a keeper, a brilliantly edited assemblage of archival footage, movie clips and home movies that can be both funny and sad, enjoyable and angering… Like capitalism, basically. Not a bad system per se, but boy can it be abused! According to Moore, it’s the Reagan administration that is to blame first, for the way they removed/crippled the things that made the U.S. economy viable, allowing banks and corporations to gut the middle class for quick profit. And then things got even worse under Bush, leading to the 2008 crash…  It’s all very depressing, even though Moore throws in gags here and there, and a hopeful message at the end. But it’s well worth watching nevertheless.  ]

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