Moore is a damned good showman, and he knows how to shock (with the right amount of schlock). The message sits uncomfortably at first, with idyllic 50s-era footage used to show the consumptive, materialistic underbelly of the American dream (it doesn’t seem quite right to blame it on the Beav, as it were). And Moore is a skilled filmmaker, good with the gimmick, like his montage trying to show how Ronald Reagan ushered in a new and corrupt era (one of the most shocking moments in the film is the part where Reagan hauls off and smacks a woman across the face, calm as you please — yes it’s a movie, and yes I know it’s meant to manipulate, but — wow).
But there’s Moore driving an armoured truck to Goldman Sachs and politely requesting America’s money back, and then’s there’s the Hacker family getting evicted form their home in Peoria, Illinois, lugging out their furniture to a bonfire in the back so they can at least get a $1,000 check for clearing out thoroughly. There’s Moore wrapping Wall Street in crime scene tape, and then there’s scenes shot from a sit-in inside a Chicago factory where the workers said, no, you can’t give us three days notice and cut off our pay and benefits. There’s Moore trying to make a citizen’s arrest at AIG and then there’s the woman whose dead husband was insured by Wal-Mart for $1.5 million dollars — as a business investment! — and she and her family got none of it. Say what you like about Michael Moore’s methods, but when he turns the camera on these poor, bewildered, totally screwed-over people, it’s just them and their stories making you gasp in shock.
We haven’t seen the movie, and it seemed to provoke quite a reaction among viewers, but it sounds like Michael Moore is now at the stage of his career where hes’ recycling old gags. Driving an armoured truck up to Goldman Sachs? Seriously? In Roger & Me, he was clever enough to see if a GM exec would come out and change the oil on his car. And on his TV show, he tried to get a Crest executive to come out and fill a tube of toothpaste with the toothpaste, which was absurd and hilarious. But just asking Goldman and AIG for their money back? Sounds a little unfresh.
On the other hand, Sklar notes how moved she was during scenes of a family being foreclosed upon — that we don’t doubt. If you’re unmoved by that, you have a heart of a stone.
Meanwhile, here’s more details from the glam afterparty
Held at the fabulous, sprawling, lushly-appointed Esquire Apartment in Soho, it was packed with good-looking, well-dressed people, had multiple bars across two suites and two balconies, featured a Steak Bar, and even had a hot tub, complete with young lovelies lounging steamily therein. Meanwhile, the Hackers were there — the Hackers from Peoria, Illinois, whom an hour ago I had watched get evicted from their home, bewildered and tearful, burning their worldly possessions. I wondered what they must think. (Actually, I asked Mr. Hacker, who said that everyone in New York seemed to be beautiful, that it was their first trip and that they were having fun. I said I was glad to see that they were doing OK; he said, “Well, we’re not in that movie for nothing.”)
Wow, a steak bar! Now that is fancy.
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