Monday, October 19, 2009

Left-Wing Movie Report

Capitalism: A Love Story
Believe it or not, I had never seen a Michael Moore movie before I saw this one. I don’t know that I’m missing all that much. With the rare exception (James Toback’s Tyson, for one), documentary film basically exists to inform rather than entertain - so for me, the mark of a successful doc is how well it sheds light on things I did not already know. Having said that, this film is hit and miss. What Moore tells us about the financial meltdown is not news; anyone who has paid even slight attention to the news in the last year or so knows most of these details. The interesting parts are when he goes out into the field and talks to people who have been affected by the financial crisis; there should be way more of this. Oh, and his thesis - that capitalism is the source of the trouble - is inaccurate. The cause of the trouble was greed. Capitalism does not work unless it is regulated. Period. End of report. Next case. Unfettered free market capitalism is no more viable than communism or Glenn Beck. The financial mess the world is in is proof of that statement, an enduring legacy of Ronald Reagan, one of the worst Presidents in American history other than his veep’s progeny.

Earth Days
This one was way better than I thought it was going to be. For whatever reason, I was expecting self-righteous hippie environmentalists decrying as a right-wing Nazi anyone who doesn’t live in a tree and who refuses to shower or to groom him- or herself. Instead, what I got was just a bunch of people who think it’s a really good thing to protect the environment and take care of our finite natural resources - and who wanted to share that concern with the audience. It’s hard to argue with this positiion when it’s presented in such an apolitical way. It even manages to give credit where it’s due to Richard Nixon, who was mostly a disaster, of course* - but who also created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed into law the Clean Water Act and an expansion of the Clean Air Act.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon
Actually, there’s one other thing about documentary that’s really good - when it gives you footage of awesome people who died before you had the chance to become interested in them. I was five when John Lennon bled out on the steps in front and lobby of the Dakota Hotel in New York City, and twenty-something before I got (mildly) interested in the Beatles; and it was several years after that before I realized that I was really, truly a bleeding-heart left-wing liberal (this is also called coming to one’s senses, for those who still think that Rush Limbaugh and a whoopee cushion are substantially different things). Up until I saw this movie, I basically only knew anecdotal things about John Lennon; and there was quite a lot of good information in the movie to help expand that knowledge. The movie also opened up a lot of his songs, both solo stuff and stuff that he did with the Beatles.

* Has anyone else noticed that the last three consecutive, two-term Republican Presidents have been remarkable disasters? You’d think people would learn to vote better; but then again, the learning curve in this fading republic is flat like Kansas.

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