Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Michael Moore: Capitalism: A Love Story + Where to Invade Next

Lowdown: Michael Moore dishes out the illnesses of American society.
It can be argued, and I will definitely concur, that Michael Moore's documentaries are all one and the same. Moore seems to be redoing the same film again and again from slightly different angles (including the perspective of time). Essentially, Moore has been crying out against the fall of the American Empire he grew up in, making a continuous feature film to discuss the fall of the USA.
This particular review of mine focuses on the two recent episodes in Moore's ongoing saga, 2009's Capitalism: A Love Story and 2015's Where to Invade Next. I shall approach it in descending chronological order.
I actually thought Where to Invade Next is a movie dealing with the USA's major export this past few decades, troops. But it isn't; it is actually about how other [inferior] countries have borrowed ideas from the USA and successfully implemented them, while the USA itself forgot all about them (and finds itself drowning in the mire as a result of said negligence). To prove his point, Moore "invades" other countries to demonstrate how well they did with those American ideas.
Examples of Moore's invasions include: Free higher education at Slovenia [and the prosperity this brings in comparison to the misery of college debts in the USA]; gourmet restaurant like meals at French schools, where the aim is to teach kids how and what to eat [in comparison to the average American's bad diet]; short school days and no homework at Finland [resulting in the world's most successful education system, while the USA's is in constant decline]; legalised drugs at Portugal [reducing crime, in comparison to the USA's massive imprisonment rate]; work/life balance at Italy [compared to the USA workers getting hardly any days of paid leave]; and no capital punishment in pretty much the whole of the civilised world.
All good ideas and, in my opinion, entirely justified criticism. The problem lies with Moore's very manipulative, contrived feeling, presentation. Often it's a pathetic presentation, too, with Moore going through the theatrics of sticking an American flag everywhere he goes. But yes, you got to hand it to Moore, he has a point; personally, I am very sad to see the Anglo Saxonia Minors, the UK and Australia, follow the American example instead of the European one.
Capitalism: A Love Story is all about how the capitalistic system managed to establish itself in American minds to the point where no alternative can even be imagined. Moore is arguing it has  implemented itself together with self protection mechanisms that block Americans from seeking better alternatives. Instead, Americans are busy in a race to the bottom, with corporations making a killing and the majority suffering for the sake of the 1%.
Given its manufacturing date, you can rest assure Capitalism is all about the 2008 financial crisis and its causes. Again, I agree with Moore and what he says, but again I will argue for a contrived presentation; in this particular case, the presentation already feels out of date with newer "shit" fitting the bill much better already. Alas, while Where to Invade Next presents a multitude of ideas, Capitalism is a one track pony.
Overall: Whether or not you like Michael Moore's films is highly dependant on whether or not you agree with him. I doubt Moore's presentation will sway the true American capitalist patriot to change her mind. But again, there is the fact that Where to Invade Next does raise some interesting ideas, so I will give it 3.5 out of 5 crabs. Capitalism: A Love Story is a different, repetitive and now an older affair, too; it earns 2.5 out of 5 crabs.

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