Michael Moore Collection Michael Moore

Michael Moore Collection Michael Moore
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009), one of five films in Alliance's Michael Moore Collection, has a cute moment near the beginning where Moore once again shuffles up to General Motors' headquarters and tells the security guard, "Oh, I'm just going up to see the chairman." When stopped, Moore complains, "I have not been let into this building for 20 years!" The guard rolls his eyes as he speaks into the walkie-talkie: "It's Michael Moore, here to see the chairman." Later, when a GM official comes down to shoo Moore away, he stops the guard from putting his hand over the camera ― they've learned the hard way this looks bad. Obviously, Moore doesn't expect to be allowed into the head office of the corporation he so famously attacked in 1989's Roger & Me (which isn't included in this collection), so the point of this scene is to have a little fun with the "Michael Moore" character. When your screen persona depends on being a regular Joe in blue jeans and a ball cap, things can get a little difficult when you become the most famous documentary filmmaker in history. Moore, whose Bowling for Columbine (2002) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) sparked much discourse during their releases, has been drifting increasingly further off the cultural radar in recent years, proven by the indifferent critical and popular reception that greeted Capitalism, and it must admittedly be said that his diminished cultural status is, generally speaking, his own damn fault. It's true he manipulates facts (no, that bank won't just give you a gun when you open an account, you order it from a warehouse miles away); he uses sleazy tactics and takes cheap shots (like leaving the picture of the murdered girl at Charlton Heston's house, then walking away sadly on camera); his logic isn't always airtight (wait, explain again how Dick Clark is indirectly responsible for that school shooting in Flint, MI?); by ambushing all those security guards, he picks on the same working stiffs he claims to champion; and, hey, plenty of us Canadians know how to lock our doors, pal, so don't be so strategic with your editing. But one idea Moore's detractors keep lobbing that I can't get behind is that his average-guy persona is a construct, cynically calculated to pander to the audience. Yes, in Columbine and The Big One (1997), Moore is the proletarian prankster, and his level of fame is modest enough that he still looks like David to the Goliath of K-Mart, or Nike, or the NRA. But by Sicko (2007), with its "golly, you mean you Canadians really get your health care for free?" passages, the persona begins to enter deliberate self-parody. We are no longer expected to take Moore seriously when he says he thinks he can get a boatload of 9/11 rescue workers free healthcare at Guantanamo; he's winking at us. Capitalism, his most self-reflexive work, ends on an elegiac tone when after one last gimmicky stunt, Moore's narration admits, "I can't really keep doing this." If nothing else, this DVD collection offers a unique opportunity to see how "Michael Moore," the "man of the people," has evolved ― an evolution Moore's detractors seem unable or unwilling to see. Then again, there are plenty of other pundits whose aggressive populism has eclipsed even Moore's, and surely they haven't a hint of artifice at all. That Glenn Beck's a real straight shooter, eh? (Alliance)