The question is do we believe Michael Moore when the film-maker says he’s tired. Moore attended the screening of his latest film Capitalism: A Love Story shown in competition at the 66th Venice Film Festival at Lido. His claims that “no-one from the other side will talk to him” are subsequently followed by the contradictory admission that politicians are in fact now agreeing to chat with him directly. Moore’s politics and the politics of the American public have recently lined up, so politicians don’t find him as threatening, he believes. It’s another story when it comes to corporate America.
Moore’s tackles the issues that, as a man from Flint, Michigan, he was raised to care about. The film is populated by a selection of stories and insights into the goings-on in the lives of the less well off or the struggling masses. The tales are lifted from the thousands of letters and correspondence that arrive on a desk each day. The home video of a family being evicted is an obvious plea for help.
Moore hasn’t overhauled his style or approach in order to spread the word. He uses statistics, tries to confront leaders of industry and talks to people he knows, even friends and his dad, to give their insights and thoughts. He unashamedly states, “I am a film-maker and that automatically implies I am trying to engage an audience”. He insists he is not issuing a political statement or a manifesto. Some would argue otherwise.
Once again, Moore’s work is based on probing, doing his best to dig deep, delivering ideas and attempting to engage in a debate with corporate America. A scene with a megaphone and crime tape stretched around large office buildings is amusing and and one of the more striking and effective scenes. “I am not mugging for the camera, it’s an honest reaction. I am myself. I am from the mid-west, only have a high school education and do act in a sort of “aah shucks” kind of way.” So he wants the audience to know that he’s not acting and that the best stuff happens with no planning and not much of a script.
Attempts to discredit Moore have continued for decades but he remains defiant, twenty years on from Roger and Me. And yet he’s tired of beating his head against the wall and finds the abuse draining. He considers himself dangerous to those in power because, as he puts it, he speaks to a mass audience. Moore’s approach to research remains comprehensive in order to fight the intense scrutiny of his work. This necessitates backing up everything and checking it over and over.
He had considered calling this latest offering Mike’s Last Movie. And at times, the film does feel a little tired. Moore is fed up with having to endure around the clock security , describing it as completely “nutty”. The very fact that the film has been completed is evidence that Moore did not succumb and therefore overcame his film-making fatigue…
Moore has expressed his desire for a little peace and quiet and can’t even decisively answer whether it’s all worthwhile. “I don’t know (pause) … I think it is.” He ponders. “I believe things will change. Anything is possible. All bets are off”. And of the politicans that are starting to talk to him, Moore believes they will no longer embrace him after seeing Capitalism: A love story.
© FIPRESCI 2009