Capitalism: A Love Story (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Michael Moore's new documentary doesn't just lay into the bankers behind the recent financial Armageddon.

He starts by relating the gradual erosion of America's manufacturing base to the rise of Ronald Reagan, in the pockets of big financiers. We're shown the head of Merrill Lynch standing beside Reagan and telling him, mid-speech, "You're gonna have to speed it up." Who the hell, asks Moore, tells a President to speed it up? From there, he roars off in a dozen directions, filming from the inside as private homes are repossessed, showing how companies are asset-stripped and banks exist above the law. There are eye-opening revelations: some companies insure the lives of employees and make millions from their demise (the unfortunates are called "Dead Peasants" in the small print), and teenagers are locked up by corrupt judges for microscopic crimes in cash-for-conviction prisons. The story of how Congress was forced to vote for a $700bn bailout of the banks (without any explanation of how the money might be spent) is re-told, to jaw-dropping effect. Moore is marvellously indignant and confrontational (he tries to make a citizen's arrest of the AIG board), and dramatises moments of rebellion and fight-back with relish. But there's something self-righteous and teenage-lefty about his rhetoric. He ends with a virtual call to arms, and calls for "the opposite of capitalism – democracy". But surely the opposite of capitalism is communism or socialism. Why doesn't he call for that?