Capitalism: A Love Story: * 3/4 (out of 4)

I like Michael Moore movies. I suppose that many would consider this a shameful admission; and if I tried, I'm sure I could justify it by talking about how it's a joy to look at pure propaganda. But truth be told, I like Michael Moore. TV Nation was a great show, back in the day; The Awful Truth was pretty funny too. His early movies were amusing, and his stunts were fairly clever and confrontational in a way that I generally respected. And as time went on, his skills as a propagandist have grown - which as done a fairly effective job of counteracting the problems that his increased notoriety has caused.

As such, I did have some expectations going into Capitalism: A Love Story. And I was disappointed.

Part of the problem with Capitalism was clearly that the topic was very broad. The format of Moore's movies is best-suited for a narrow topic, the smaller the better; but this movie is about an entire economic system, rather than the collapse of a factory town or a more narrow political area like gun control or health care. There's never a chance to examine the various sides of the issue in any kind of serious way; there is never a chance to fill in the caricatures, or even the basic theories. The movie simply lacked focus.

Worse were the stunts - or, perhaps, a lack of them. Moore's cameras sat in on some home foreclosures, which failed to shine any sympathy on anybody involved while also bringing into question why nobody was willing to intervene. Moore attempted to perform some citizen's arrests at Goldman Sachs and other banks; this simply seemed half-hearted. And everything else hardly seemed connected. There were some smiles at the silliness here and there, but even that was hurt by the oddly out-of-place cursing. All in all, it just seemed... badly put together.

Somewhere in between was the quality of the arguments. Moore didn't really attack capitalism in this movie; he attacked the bailout, and he attacked corruption, but he didn't attack the whole system. If he'd left it at that, that'd be okay - it worked okay in Bowling for Columbine, for instance - but but in this case, he took what little he had and called for even more change than he ever had before. Frankly, he overplayed his hand, and even what value the movie had as propaganda was damaged as a result.

It's a shame; there were some interesting details in there, such as the discussion of Dead Peasant insurance policies and (most prominently) a look back at Flint, MI, where it all began. But while the beginning of this story was the best we're likely to get from Moore, this is likely the worst.

* 3/4