Finally caught up with this. Katy and I both liked. Moore has returned to the concerns of Roger & Me, watches the problems of Flint spread to the entire country, but as usual with him (and unusual for political documentaries in general), does it in a way that makes me interested and excited, not depressed. A couple token scenes of Moore trying to talk his way into corporate offices and an ending where he wraps Wall Street in crime scene tape aside, he seems to have listened to criticism and kept himself mostly off-camera. We noticed he was awfully polite and attentive to religion, trying to expand his support base out of the godless-liberal camp. Winning coverage of a factory sit-in and an evicted family that refused to leave balance out the bummers of underpaid airline pilots, life insurance policies on corporate employees and bullying bank bailouts… well, not really, but he makes it feel that way.
Predictably, critical response was off the charts… some raves, many attacks, and still more highly-qualified minor praises – mostly accusing him of simplifying the issues. But they’re issues that needed simplifying, and the accusation is an easy way for a film reviewer to imply their superior knowledge and understanding to Moore without having to defend themselves with examples. Anyway, Cine File put my thoughts succinctly: “Basically the achievement of Capitalism is to spell out the facts in such a way that they’re impossible to ignore. Nobody does it better than Moore.”
Best of all, I found out that in my lifetime, U.S. Presidents used to say things like this:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
– Jimmy Carter, 1979-07-15