Monday, October 05, 2009

Developing Artist

Watched Capitalism: A Love Story this weekend.

While I think that he'll never have a better subject than a past film, his filmmaking keeps getting better.

Don't take my word for it, though, let's go to a person who dislikes Michael Moore:
Most interesting is the way he positions black citizens in the Obama theme. An interview is interrupted by the news that the election is won, and we see black folk leap and cheer -- a common image during that news cycle, but (as I mentioned about the portrayal of Republicans tumbling out of the closet in Republican Gomorrah) newly piquant in a narrative context: The most traditionally despised and debased people in the country suddenly filled with optimism. The payoff comes near the end, when Moore reproduces FDR's 1944 call for a new Bill of Rights-- a late New Deal legacy that presaged Moore's own hopes for the nation. We may be aware without reminding that Roosevelt's vision -- including that of "every family to a decent home.. to adequate medical care... to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age and sickness and accident" -- went unrealized after his death.

Next we see the crowds weeping at FDR's funeral procession -- many of them African-American. Then Moore avails a stealth-shock cut -- it takes a few moments to realize that the helicopters we are next shown are hovering over the flooded homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and that the terrified citizens begging for rescue are black.

I'm a terrible cynic, but the sorrow and anger at injustice I felt at what I saw, I am convinced, were not drawn by a gimp-string, nor by a clever concatenation of my own prejudices, but by the craft of a real filmmaker turning bare facts and images into art. It's political, certainly. But sometimes, if rarely, a political gesture is sufficiently inspired to cross the line.

No comments: