Capitalism: A Love Story
by Jef Burnham
Available on DVD and Blu-ray on March 9, 2010.
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Capitalism: A Love Story is an absolutely terrific film. Michael Moore sheds the partisanship of Fahrenheit 9/11 here in favor of an apolitical affirmation of the American people’s strength, the power of democracy, and true American values. Capitalism details the effect that capitalism is having on our supposedly democratic society, for the two systems, as Moore demonstrates, cannot coexist. The focus of capitalism, as we all know, is money, whereas the focus of democracy is people. Moore shows how capitalism is directly threatening the stability and effectiveness of our democratic government, and challenges us to act. It certainly seems like an overwhelming problem to us average folk, especially when watching the first half of this film. But Moore discovers that all across the nation, average Americans are making a difference, fighting back against an economy that favors only the top 1% of wealthiest citizens. And they’re winning.
With Capitalism, Moore proves to be a more competent filmmaker than ever. With all the rhetorical techniques that fuel only the best of conventional documentary cinema, Moore has created a film that anyone (not of the aforementioned 1% anyway) can connect with and support, regardless of their political affiliations. It embodies old-fashioned American values, humanism and even delves briefly into religious views of the capitalist system.
Simply put, we need this picture. We need it now, and we’ve needed it for years. It deals with some terrifying truths about our current system, and yet it remains exceedingly positive, hopeful, and patriotic (though certainly not sentimentally so). Watch this movie. And if you already saw it in the theaters, rent it and make someone else watch it. This is an important picture.
To further invite viewers to the film’s DVD and Blu-ray releases, Moore offers up a highly interesting and watchable 80 minutes of featurettes (all but one written and directed by Moore himself), which expand upon and compliment the points of the film. One of the most striking of featurettes is merely a televised address by President Carter during his term in office. Though the address is some 30 years old, it is just as relevant today as it was when it originally aired as President Carter voiced almost all the same concerns Moore addresses in his film.
“Sorry, House-Flippers and Banks— You’re Toast in Flint, MI”- Moore visits a friend who is now Treasurer of Flint, who is fighting back against real estate vultures who have allowed much of Flint’s housing and landscape fall apart as they buy up cheap property and sit on it.
“Congressman Cummings Dares to Speak the Unspeakable Truth”- Maryland Representative, Elijah J. Cummings, discusses how capitalism’s destructive toll on the average citizen will soon force Congress to regulate the system or abolish it altogether.
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma? It’s Capitalism”- Moore shows how people all over the country are rebelling against the highly processed, over-priced and unhealthy food that corporations fill the grocery stores with, by simply growing their own food as communities in each other’s back yards.
“The Rich Don’t Go to Heaven (There’s a Special Place Reserved for Them!”: Moore discusses the religious ramifications of capitalism with Father Dick Preston.
“How to Run the Place Where You Work”- Workers’ cooperatives and how they the workplace, the nation and individual freedoms benefit from them.
“Commie Taxi Drivers— ‘You Talkin’ to Me?’— In Wisconsin”- Here we see one such cooperative in action. We follow the cab drivers of Union Cab, a cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin, and learn how each member has an equal say in the company’s future and how it is the workers who receive the profit for the hard work they do, not a faceless CEO who has never set foot in a cab.
“The Socialist Bank of… North Dakota?”- Moore details how the profit-driven banking system tried to squash the people’s right to form a community bank in North Dakota and how such a bank benefits the people.
“The Banks Kick Them Out, Max Kicks Them Back In”- Expanding on a segment of the feature, Moore gives us more information about a group in Miami who are fighting for community control of land, trying to put homeless families in vacant, crumbling homes that mire the the neighborhoods they live in. Max, the man heading this movement, reasons that, if indeed we are a democracy, housing should be a human right untouchable by the banks.
Lastly, we have: “NY Times Pulitzer Prize Winner Chris Hedges on the killing Machine Known as Capitalism”- Hedges details how the destruction of our ecosystem is inherent in the tenants of capitalism.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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