“Love” means never having to get your facts straight.
Oscar winner Michael Moore, the far-left documentarian behind Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, and Fahrenheit 9/11, is back with Capitalism: A Love Story.
This time he’s telling us our capitalistic system is evil and needs to be put down, and naturally, most film critics are looking past his dubious techniques, wildly partisan potshots, and other gimmicks they wouldn’t swallow from any other documentary director. But cracks are beginning to show in Moore’s media fan club. Some critics are actually holding Moore accountable for his shrewd cutting and splicing.
Capitalism scored a 73 percent “fresh” approval rating on rottentomatoes.com, one of the leading review aggregators. That’s down from the 84 percent earned by Fahrenheit 9/11 back in 2004 and the 93 percent rating he earned two years ago for Sicko. Capitalism drew a tepid $4.8 million in its first weekend of wide release, less than his more commercial hits.
By now, critics can’t simply applaud Moore and his tactics blindly. Even the least discerning film journalists understand his cut-and-paste, fast-zoom approach to visual op-eds is simply a card trick. But oh — what a game of three-card monte Moore pulls off time and again, they cry.
Entertainment scribes often do their darnedest to avoid properly labeling Moore as liberal. He’s a rabble-rouser, a populist, a muckraker — anything that neutralizes his ideological bent will do. Imagine a right-of-center documentarian getting such slack. Then again, we’re still waiting for a right-leaning documentary filmmaker to break through as successfully as Moore has. Say what you will about him, Moore has the ideological doc platform all to himself.
More than one critic assaulted his techniques on Capitalism, only to add an “and yet … ” to include their admiration for his body of work. Slate’s Dana Stevens, who serves up the funniest review of the lot:
Even those who largely agree with Moore’s politics are often mortified by the delivery system … and yet, and yet: There’s something touching, even a little bit noble, about Moore’s eternal willingness to serve as our nation’s shame-free populist gadfly.
Wow, what a hero! Moore keeps making movies, pocketing millions, and receives both an Oscar and a cushy seat next to former President Jimmy Carter at the 2004 DCN convention.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert, who in recent years has tried his hand as an op-ed author with predictably liberal results, uses his review to prop up Moore’s PR spin:
He is also a working-class kid, no college education, still with the baseball cap and saggy pants, who feels sympathy for victims.
USA Today’s Claudia Puig refuses to label his political bent and offers up excuses for his one-sided approach — demeaning the good work of documentary directors the world over:
Moore has never pretended to be objective. Few documentarians are. The minute a camera is aimed at a subject, subjectivity sets in.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern inadvertently does a nice job illustrating the hypocrisy coursing through the mainstream media these days with his review:
[Moore does] whatever it takes to drive home provocative points in a movie that manages shrewdly, even brilliantly, to capitalize on the populist anger that has been sweeping the nation in the wake of financial turmoil, government bailouts, and persistent unemployment.
Somewhere, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs are snickering.
The New York Times’ Mahnola Dargis, who assures us Moore has his heart in the right place, even though Moore’s lifestyle defines the word hypocrisy, explains away the director’s inability to come up with a new solution:
Mr. Moore doesn’t have any real answers, either, which tends to be true of most socially minded directors in the commercial mainstream and speaks more to the limits of such filmmaking than to anything else.
Excuses, excuses. Moore gets two hours of our time and can’t give us some clues as to how we should remake our economic system?
Not everyone is hoodwinked by Moore’s stale act. MTV’s Kurt Loder, a gimlet-eyed critic and savvy wordsmith, pounces:
Hateful capitalism is dead; time now for government to step in and take charge. This mad idea has worked out so badly so many times in the past (has it not been just 20 years since Soviet communism collapsed?) that one is always startled to see it exhumed as a cutting-edge nostrum.
The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips also neglected to drink Moore’s brand of Kool-Aid. But he had to slam Glenn Beck while doing it:
Rather, the progressive megaphone from Flint, Mich., exploits many of the same tactics used by paranoia-monger and white-culture activist Glenn Beck: a marketable blend of talking points, scare tactics and rhetoric millions can agree with, while millions more wonder how our borders will remain safe with him around.
Maybe a little market correction on the products sold by the man from Flint is the perfect way to show capitalism is alive and well despite Moore’s best efforts.
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