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Capitalism: A Love Story Review

Updated on October 31, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

I saw Michael Moore's new movie on opening night tonight--"Capitalism: A Love Story." Moore's blade is still sharp, and he sticks it in the Wall Street banks and brokers, Countrywide Financial, WalMart, the pharmaceutical industry, and the Bush and Reagan administrations which marked the beginning of the decline of the American middle class. Moore praised General Motors for providing good jobs in the 1950s and 60s, but was critical of its failure to match the quality of imported cars that have flooded the U.S. market. Throughout the film he juxtaposes the poor, the unemployed, the foreclosed with those at the top of the heap. He blames Bush but does not criticize Obama. Moore offers sharp criticisms but no answers. He appears to hope that Obama will improve the situation.

Moore intersperses and contrasts archival newsreel and movie footage from the thirties, forties and fifties with current film of home foreclosures and factory closures. He winds up with FDR speaking about his dream that everyone was entitled to an opportunity for a good job, health care, and education which came close to being realized in the 1950s and 1960s but now has faded thanks to the Reagan assault on unions, the role of government, deregulation of the banking industry, huge reductions in the upper tax brackets and the effects of free trade policy which has allowed imports to wipe out entire industries.

The movie's theme contrasts postwar prosperity and economic progress for the middle class when an auto worker earned enough to buy a house, a car and have his wife stay home and take care of the kids until they went off to college, with today's decline of high paying manufacturing jobs and the devastation this has wrought on Detroit and Midwest.

Anybody heard of "dead peasant insurance?" Apparently WalMart and some other companies have started purchasing life insurance policies on some of their employees and naming the companies as the benificiary upon the death of the employee. Internal memos or emails at WalMart referred to these employees as "dead peasants." Moore interviewed a widow of a deceased former middle manager at a bank who learned that the bank had received a $1.5 million insurance payment upon the death of her husband. She got nothing. At WalMart the "dead peasant" insurance payouts to the company were much more modest. I can see why a company might want to insure an employee who is critical to the continued success of the company, but the "dead peasant" concept sounds a bit strange to me.

We pulled up to the theater behind a brand new chauffered Bentley which deposited none other than Al Taubman, billionaire inventor of the shopping mall, and a very attractive and much younger lady companion. Taubman and his friend were in the lobby waiting for their limo as my wife and I and couple of friends left the theater. I resisted the temptation to ask Taubman whether he enjoyed the movie.


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    • profile image

      chasingcars 8 years ago

      Thanks for the review. Whether you like his style or not, Moore deserves kudos for swimming against the tide and doing his research. That took a great deal of courage during the Bush years. The idea of "peasant insurance" is frightening: sort of like a body snatcher's movie I once saw. Nevermind the derisive "peasant" reference. Says a lot about American capitalism.

    • mgamoras32 profile image

      mgamoras32 8 years ago from United States

      Yes I can definetly agree on the "Walmart dead peasants" theory that is true. I have heard of the distribution stories and I have asked Walmart employees. Not only is the disturbution center dangerous but you are asked to meet a certain criteria, that alone seems interesting. I worked for McDonalds Walmart for four years and they only get fifteen minutes to eat and most of them are very tired and very grouchy. Think twice before a job with Walmart. If it used to be "We the people" on the constitution why is it now "We the companies" hmm so what is our prioragative. Im just wondering

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for telling me about dead peasant insurance, of which I was ignorant. I suppose the employees chosen for this did not have to sign the policy or application. What next? I shouldn't ask...

    • profile image

      sarah deeds 8 years ago

      I saw the movie last night in Berkeley California. It was funny and I was happy to learn that my favorite Santa Cruz bread company is a worker owned cooperative and the workers make $80,000, but it seemed really one-sided and confrontational. Moore is preaching to the converted. entertaining the converted. This whole more financial collapse and it causes have been way more complex and interesting than Moore's movie shows.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Even "glass half empty" comments are welcome! Tnx.

    • dandmanmusic1 profile image

      dandmanmusic1 8 years ago

      Hmmmm. Michael Moore making a film stating that rampant greed is bad for America. Think I'll make my own movie with the premise that molestation is not healthy for children.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Have you seen any of his movies? Actually they are pretty entertaining but one sided of course. He makes no pretense at showing both sides of the issues he deals with.

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 8 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      I think Michel Moore is really a hypocrite. Why doesn't he give his money away? Why doesn't he make free movies for kids? Anyway the movie was a flop, i heard. i wouldn't waste my money on him He thinks Fidel Castro, the murderer, is an okay guy.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Beata, I read your blogs and tried to leave a comment on one but wasn't able to figure out what to put in the URL I.D. blank.

      You write beautifully, and have a knack for dialog as well as descriptive prose. I liked the pictures also. Your memoir about the family burial was moving.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 8 years ago from Western Australia

      I loved your review of the new Moore movie. I saw it last week on the opening for journalists and aspiring writers /I am not one yet, I have just good friends/ in Perth. The cinema was packed and we all enjoyed the sharp and vitty picture of America today. I sometimes felt uneasy when he was interwieving a Socialist, just because I left an Eastern European Postcommunist country for the better life in Australia not so long time ago. I believe that 'pure capitalism' is 'evil' just as Moore said but at least Moore has a freedom of speech to say what he thinks.

      I love all Moore's documentaries as they are not just entertaining but also make us think. However I think people today like to be entertained first, and think maybe later and change something? Never.

      I love my new country Australia because just like in America our values are based on free enterprise, mutual prosperity and open, free society. However I see that our materialistic and greedy way of life influences people more than they think or wish to admit. We are all slaves of shiny advertisements and 'cheap goods for affordable prizes' until there are no money left to buy the most affordable thing.

      If you have spare time, I would be happy if you can read my blogs:

      /about my roots/

      /about working with children with behavioural difficulties/

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I don't disagree. But in every one of his low budget movies he seems to come up with some interesting points and sharp contrasts between the way things are and the way he thinks they should be.

    • matthewjohns profile image

      matthewjohns 8 years ago

      Moore always seems very 'Moorecentric' Moore getting in the way of his subject.

    • magdielqr profile image

      magdielqr 8 years ago

      Great information. Thanks for the review. Very good.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I'm not either. Mitt Romney made his fortune with leveraged private equity takeovers.

      Tnx. for your comment, George.

    • profile image

      George Nagle 8 years ago

      Thanks, Ralph, for the illuminating review.

      I'm not sure if Obmana has the stomach to fight for a reform of the financial services industry that will preclude practices that have little or no social benefit as, for example, the lucrative destruction of the Simmons mattress company reported in today's NY Times.

      Yes we can, but only with fiery leadership.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Tnx for the comment.

    • rhamson profile image

      rhamson 8 years ago

      Well done.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    • profile image

      Hanging is Bad for You 8 years ago

      Conservatives seem to imagine we live in some kind of Utopia but the difference between Dicken's London and present day New York is horribly slim. In the end it comes down to better sanitation, vaccination and a few (mostly useless) consumer durables.

      I can't see any advance on the nineteen sixties when one bread winner on a forty hour week could raise a family decently. It know takes 2, each working sixty.

      I reckon Moore offers no solutions because if he offered the obvious one, someone would find a reason to hang him.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I'm not doing business with any of the big money center banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, CitiGroup, et al.

    • Daniel Carter profile image

      Daniel Carter 8 years ago from Western US

      Very good review. I went to see the film opening night with a couple of friends. I think your take on it is very accurate. He certainly knows how to stir the emotions of the "every-man."

      Pam makes a good point about what to *do*. There was that link about how to find out of you or a loved one had a "dead peasant insurance" policy, but that was more like a punch in the gut (perhaps justified).

      If there is something we can do, I personally think that it's stop supporting the giant money machines by going to smaller, reputable (if there is such a thing) credit unions (and maybe a few banks). But it does get complicated no matter what. Mortgages, investments, etc are tied up with the big money machines, of which most of us are a part.

      Writing our congressmen seems a waste of worry, really. Their payoffs seem to be in dollars and perks more than in a warm fuzzy that they did something for their constituents. I think if we keep our money closer to home we may not get the big returns as much, but we may start getting more stability.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Pam, I agree. It was not as good as some of his previous movies. His formula is still entertaining but wearing a bit thin. It was a kind of hashed up effort with live shots and stock newsreel and other footage.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 8 years ago

      Well, we saw it last night and I thought it was very good, but maybe not as good as some of his others. He did say at the end he can't keep this up much longer, and although he got a round of applause at the end in the theater where we watched it, I don't sense any groundswell of public action about to happen. Most of the crowd was over 50, although in fairness the MSU/MI game had just ended and I think the younger folks in Kalamazoo had some serious drinking to do that night. I'm not quite sure what we are supposed to *do* either. I think if people knew what to do they'd be doing it.

    • profile image

      A.M. Gwynn 8 years ago

      You know what I like about Michael Moore? He digs THE stuff up!! And then rubs it in our faces. And we need some rubbing now and then don't we? Truly, he finds the most obscure things... things Americans know virtually nothing about or never knew at all.

      Even though I am quite non-political, which I mean to say.. I detest politics, and never discuss my opinions on it (as I try to do with religion), but it seems Michael Moore doesn't care as much about political party as much as he cares about uncovering the truth about all of it, and all of them?

      I love your in-depth review and opinion about the film. Thanks Ralph.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 8 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      Can't wait to see it! I have a love affair with Michael Moore! The whole dead peasant insurance is so extremely bizarre and frightening I might need to be sedated before seeing his movie though. Kartika

    • JamesBenjaminJrMD profile image

      JamesBenjaminJrMD 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks Mr. Ralph Deeds for the review. Great videos.

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 8 years ago from florida

      Good Review Ralph!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks, everyone for your comments. I have mixed feelings about the movie. I'm not sure it's as good as his previous films which used the same format. It's worth seeing, however.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      Won't be able to see the movie until a few days from now but enjoying reading everyone's take on it to see if it will match my reality. Great info.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Thanks for the review Ralph-- Bravo. I can't wait to see this one. I'm going tomorrow afternoon. I love Michael Morre, even though he does go over the top sometimes-- so did Jonathon Swift. That's what good social critics do

    • profile image

      Greta Blalock 8 years ago

      Great information. Thanks for the review. Do you think the media will attack this one as they attacked Sicko?

      I saw Michael on Martha Stewart (oddly enough) a few days ago. He said that if there isn't a "real response" from the American public after this movie, he will hang up his documentary hat for awhile. He has a romantic comedy he'd like to make.

      What do you think a "real response" would be? Like most people, I can't fly to Washington and picket. I can't take the time off work. This is the cycle we are caught in. Too busy working (especially with 20% of my pay going to taxes) to do anything else. As much as I'd like to act, the problems seem so overwhelming, it's hard to know what to do.

      I know talking about it is a start, so this forum is a good thing.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 8 years ago

      Great review Ralph! I'll put up a link to it on my Paine/Moore hub. We're going later today. I'm really looking forward to it!

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I am SO jealous and anxious to see it asap! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with all of us.

    • wyanjen profile image

      Jen King 8 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

      Thanks for the quick review! I wish I could have seen it tonight myself.

      I'll be watching this hub for everybody's opinion.


    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      He was quite confrontational. I'm sure he lost some of the audience. We went to the five o'clock showing to avoid the crowd, and the theater wasn't packed. Moore has quite a sense of humor and he got a lot of laughs despite the serious tone and intent of the movie.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • wyanjen profile image

      Jen King 8 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

      Hello Ralph. How was Moore's tone? Is he overly confrontational? When he gets too aggressive he loses some of his audience.


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