An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            Michael Moore doesn’t make documentaries. He makes illustrated essays from a heart dipped in bitterness. This filmmaker knows exactly what he wants to say and he sets forth with his camera to make his case. He brings this, his eighth film, to a public that understands they will be seeing a presentation, not an exploration. Awash by turn in laughter, shocked silence, or applause, audiences root for this rotund, slothful provocateur who is determined to fight power with his camera.

            Moore still carries the memories of a happy childhood in Flint, Michigan where his father was a contented and proud automobile worker for GM, and where even today, his heart aches when he looks at the flattened remains of the once prosperous town. His bitterness springs from GM arrogance - then and now.

            While his film is a predictable attack on corporate power and malfeasance, it is also a heartfelt summons to all of us to open our eyes to the corporate tentacles that run through the Washington power structure. It is impossible, Moore believes, to regulate capitalism. When money is the sole reward, people will do anything to get it, and they are doing anything to get it even now.

            In a dazzling visual opening, Moore compares the fall of Rome with the fall of America. Startled to full attention, we then watch a string of the gravely sad stories of families losing their houses to foreclosure. Enforcement brings out the ugly words of foreclosure: carcass, vulture, vomit. We are reminded that in post-war America, families needed just one income and a safe pension; but with the industries of Germany and Japan destroyed by war, there was virtually no competition from the countries who would later become America’s competitors.

            We visit Wilkes Barre, PA, where the juvenile detention center is shut down in favor of PA Childcare, a private company whose CEO secures the cooperation of the local judge in building its detained population. The judge simply incarcerates juveniles for minor infractions to fill the private coffers. A minute later we learn that several millio n Americans are covered, without their knowledge, by their companies with life insurance policies (beneficiary: the company). They are more valuable dead than alive to their clever employers. Think Wal Mart, Citigroup, Bank of America, to name just a few. The name of this smarmy practice? Dead Peasant insurance.

            Do you know about FOA? Friends of Angelo, the CEO of Countrywide Credit. Senator Chris Dodd was given over a million dollars in unsecured loans, and he’s just one FOA. It is very ugly stuff. Were derivatives used to destroy Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to destroy government competition? What are the longtime effects of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington? How many Goldman Sachs executives hang their coats in Washington? Where do their loyalties lie?

            You won’t be surprised to hear that this movie is Mic hael Moore’s emotional call for a “revolt of the peasants.”



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