That said, I didn't love "Capitalism". It's a good film, an interesting story, but it fails to connect with the viewer in the same way his other films, "Bowling for Columbine", "Fahrenheit 9/11" or "Sicko" connect.
It is a mistake to call Moore a documentarian. He explores various aspects of an idea, usually political, presenting various 'human interest' stories to support his thesis. He can't get anyone with an opposing viewpoint to talk to him because his tactics are too well known. I really think he is more of a film essayist.
Given that his films follow more or less the same formula most broadcast news programs cover, it seems more than a little ironic when these same programs attack him for bending the truth. Can any news program be called "fair and balanced"? Can any news program go into any significant depth when they are so concerned with presenting 'human interest' stories about little kids flying in runaway balloons or in showing video of cats flushing toilets.
If you have seen any previous Moore films, this film, which also marks the 20tth anniversary of the release of his first film "Roger & Me", will seem familiar. Moore interviews various common folk involved in the larger picture he is trying to portray. These folks are victims and their stories often tug at our heartstrings. He also tries to interview politicians, business executives, lawmakers, anyone who is involved at a higher level. He actually gets a couple of elected officials to talk to him on camera, but these people are sympathetic to the cause. These interviews are mixed in with archival footage, news footage, charts, graphics and more all designed to help bolster Moore's arguments. And because Moore can't get anyone at a higher level to talk to him (with the exception of Charlton Heston in "Bowling for Columbine") he usually includes a few 'stunts' designed to create laughter in the audience.
There are two things that really make the best Michael Moore films stand out. First, his interviews with the common folk involved usually are so heart wrenching we leave the theater infuriated and ready to act. These people have been dumped on, big time, by circumstances beyond their control. In "Capitalism", we watch as a couple have to deal with being evicted from the wife's family property. The husband and some family members hastily box their belongings and stuff them into a truck. They don't have anywhere to go, but they are leaving a property that has been in the wife's family for decades. Then the sheriff shows up to evict them. But the husband explains that they are supposed to have thirty days to pack up. The sheriff is confused and makes some calls.
We also watch as another family goes through the eviction process. Moore's cameras are inside their house as we hear them talk and watch multiple sheriffs' deputies pull up to the house. Then, the pounding on the doors begins. The man of the house calls the sheriff and tells him they will leave, but they have to come in and get them, there are also four people in the house. Soon, the doors come down.
These are powerful moments, but he doesn't really show anyone else or any other affect of this financial crisis on the common man, on the people of "Main Street".
Another thing Moore always does well is to introduce us to people we never knew existed. In "Capitalism", we meet a real estate agent who works in Florida. He owns a company called Condo Vultures and tells us about the people who are vultures, buying up foreclosure properties for pennies on the dollar to resell it later at a profit. As he talks about what he does, he seems to have slight scorn and contempt for the people he works for. We watch as he shows two different condos to the same guy. But as we watch, we can't help but realize that this guy is capitalizing off of the vultures, making money when they do. Yet, he doesn't seem to realize his affect on society.
Moore is also good at uncovering facts and little pieces of information that tend to make the viewer's blood boil. This is where "Capitalism" falters. As an avid "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" fan, most of the shocking material Moore 'uncovers' has already been covered by Jon Stewart and "Saturday Night Live". For instance, in the original TARP bill was making its way through Congress, then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson included a provision in his very short bill preventing anyone from reviewing his decisions and bringing criminal action against him. This bill, thankfully, did not pass.
"Capitalism: A Love Story" is sure to get your blood boiling, by reiterating much of the information you probably already know. But because Moore doesn't provide anything new or startling, anything revealing or telling, the film doesn't seem as memorable as his previous works.
Also, the stunt moments seem both oddly placed and a little sophomoric. Moore drives an armored truck up to some of the banks that received bail out money and takes a large bag (marked with a huge dollar sign no less) and demands out money back. Since he can't get in the buildings, he interacts with security guards who are simply doing as they were told. Considering they probably make about $7 per hour, these people are not the criminals. So the joke seems a little lost. Yet, Moore tries to milk it, tries to get some sort of response out of them.
Later, he returns and starts to string crime scene tape across the whole of Wall Street. That is a better idea; a more telling statement, but it seems almost lost as the film is coming to an end.