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'Capitalism: A Love Story' is just 'Moore' of the same

Published October 06. 2009 05:00PM

"Capitalism: A Love Story," Michael Moore tells us he once wanted to study for the priesthood.

Indeed, in his latest, for want of a better term, documentary, Moore interviews not one, but two Catholic priests, and a bishop. All seem to agree with Moore's conclusion that capitalism is inherently evil.

Moore has made millions from his previous films: "Roger and Me," his attack and lament about General Motors' demise in his hometown, Flint, Mich.; "Bowling for Columbine"; "Fahrenheit 9/11," and "Sicko," his look at the health-care system in the United States.

Those who regard Moore as a loose cannon, i.e., one who plays loose with the facts, perhaps hope and pray that he still might consider a vow of poverty, abandon film-making, become a priest and get into the canon.

If Moore is so concerned about a lack of free enterprise, one could imagine several ways he could accomplish his goals, other than talking about them on a movie screen.

"Capitalism," as with Moore's other films, is preachy. Moore uses the bully pulpit of ambush journalism by sticking his camera and microphone in people's faces. Friend or foe, you know when Moore and his crew is around.

It's fair to say that Moore's films aren't documentaries. Moore's films are more like a cinematic smack-down. They are entertaining, as when he strings yellow police crime scene tape along a Wall Street pavement.

"Capitalism" has lots of laughs. The plight of some of those foreclosed on and about to be kicked out of their homes may also bring a few tears.

Moore is very clever in his use of found footage, including television advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s, old movies and unaired television news feed footage. He is also a master of ironic juxtaposition of footage, as well as music and songs. He also uses graphics effectively. His editing is concise and dramatic. The cinematography is mediocre.

"Capitalism" is his least cogent film. For some reason, actor Wallace Shawn shows up and is given major screen time. His observations, while interesting, are a minor distraction.

Moore's scattershot approach examines the financial meltdown, bank bailouts, Wall Street, foreclosures, plant closings, government officials, low-paying salaries and urban decay, among other topics. There doesn't seem to be an organizing theme, other than: capitalism, bad; democracy, good.

The inclusion of Moore's father is a nice touch, and reveals why "Capitalism" is more of a cinematic blog, celluloid memoir, filmic diary and reality show. The main subject documented here is Michael More, performance artist. His "TV Nation" and "The Awful Truth" on cable TV are more viable options.

His use of footage from "Roger and Me," as well as his chortling about his previous films' prescience, is overwrought and annoying. It all gets a bit tiresome.

More and more, Moore has become the film of his subject, not the subject of his film.

Still, this film-maker provocateur serves an important function. He's generated lots of interest in and discussion about the dismal science, economics, with "Capitalism: A Love Story." Now that's entertainment.

"Capitalism: A Love Story": MPAA Rated R (Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent Or Adult Guardian) for some language; Genre: Documentary; Run Time: 2 hrs.; Distributed by Paramount Vantage

Credit Readers Anonymous: Iggy Pop's "Louie Louie II" is the opening song in "Capitalism: A Love Story."

Box Office, Oct. 2: "Zombieland," $25 million, opening; 2. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," $16.7 million and $82.3 million, three weeks; 3. "Toy Story," "Toy Story 2" 3-D, $12.5 million, re-release; 4. "The Invention of Lying," $7.3 million, opening; 5. "Surrogates," $7.3 million; $26.3 million, two weeks; 6. "Whip It," $4.8 million, opening; 7. "Capitalism: A Love Story," $4.8 million, $5.2 million, two weeks; 8. "Fame," $4.7 million, $16.6 million, two weeks; 9. "The Informant!," $3.8 million, $26.5 million, three weeks; 10. "Love Happens," $2.7 million, $18.9 million, three weeks

Unreel, Oct. 9: Peter Billingsley (Ralphie in "A Christmas Story") directs Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman and Kristen Bell in "Couples Retreat," a comedy about a marriage therapy resort.

Three Popcorn Boxes Out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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