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Kneale: New Moore Film is a 'Vainglorious Bastard'

Friday, 25 Sep 2009 | 11:20 AM ET

Just spent two hours watching the upcoming film from Michael Moore— "Capitalism: A Love Story." It ends on a most hopeful note: The populist provocateur may be leaving the U.S. (Beat.) For good!

"I don't want to live in a country like that," he concludes at the end of two hours of ultra-liberal polemics and Wall Street bashing. To which I and a few colleagues cried out in instant unison: "So move!"

"Capitalism: A Love Story" is a truncated piece of trash, an utterly unbalanced, poorly argued screed. Its real title should have been "Vainglorious Bastard," for it skimps on facts and context in favor of unspooling Moore's own loopy, jaded and paranoid view of the world.

This meandering, ponderous flick deplores the past 30 years of the Reagan Revolution and free markets—and dotes lovingly on the wonders of socialism. Moore wishes we were more like France and Germany and Japan.

Freakin' JAPAN??? Replete with its 20-year slump?

This film simply isn't fun enough, or funny enough, or all that entertaining. Above all, it isn't convincing. That is a surprising failure given Moore's track record and the magnificent misfires and near-fatal flaws of his subject: Wall Street.

It takes a full hour and a half before he stumbles upon the topic he should have started skewering from the moment his film began: Bear-Lehman-AIG-Merrill Lynch-Goldman Sachs et al, and all the short-seller raids and bank runs and trillions of dollars in MBS's, CDS's, CDO's and CLO's that this entails.

Moore fails to make any serious attempt to show how and why Wall Street failed so dismally at managing risk. Instead we get silly stunts akin to what he was doing 20 years ago, in his far superior debut, "Roger & Me."

A megaphone-wielding Moore tries to make a citizen's arrest at Goldman Sachs. He wraps the stock exchange (or some other Wall Street structure) in crime-scene yellow-tape.

Hee hee. You corpulent card! Good one!

Moore pays no heed to personal responsibility, a key component of capitalism and its liberties. He shows us footage of homes being seized and the evicted in their agony, but gives no details that would make us feel outraged for their plight.

A guy loses his house after 41 years in it, but why hadn't he paid off the mortgage by then? How many home-equity loans did he take out to buy flat-screens and fancy cars he couldn't afford?

The movie, meanwhile, is rife with sleazy and stupid insinuations: That the whole financial crisis was fabricated and staged to enrich the likes of Goldman and Bank of America; that Wal-Mart and American Express and Procter & Gamble take out "secret" life-insurance policies on their workers and all but kill them to collect.

A commuter-jet crash in Buffalo is attributed to low pay. The pilots, distracted in the cockpit, were busy complaining about their compensation. If we'd have paid them "Moore," this crash wouldn't have happened!

This Moore mess also is offensive. He gets a few ministers and priests to say capitalism is a sin. Cut to a flesh-colored, life-sized sculpture of Jesus Christ on the cross. Moore wonders what the Prophet would have thought of the profit motive. Then he puts words in Christ's mouth. I swear it.

This on Wall Street, where a lot of Jewish folks don't regard Jesus the way, apparently, that Mr. Moore does.

Beneath all this ridiculousness is a hypocritical foundation.

Much as Moore's film decries capitalism, he sees no harm in charging ten bucks a ticket to see it. His company, Overture Films, is owned by Liberty Media, which is controlled by that rapacious, cable-cowboy capitalist, John Malone.

Moore speaks from both sides of his big mouth.

With the abundance of screw-ups and outrages on Wall Street and in Washington, it should have been easy to destroy his target. Michael Moore fails. Capitalism looks likely to survive.

More from Kneale ... Kill ObamaCare to Save It

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