By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 9, 2009 at 9:25AM
I take each Michael Moore film as it comes—I am not a full-time member of his flock—but I think his latest film is one of his best. As in Sicko, he’s taken on a subject that already has Americans fuming, without any help from rabble-rousers: the banking industry. I’m not exactly sure who sides with the fat cats in this case except their...
own brethren, but Moore provides a pretty solid backstory to help us understand how we got into this mess.
The movie makes ingenious and often knee-jerk-funny use of stock footage, including an opening segment from an Encyclopedia Britannica classroom film about ancient Rome that chronicles its excesses—and inequities—and makes it sound like a perfect description of us, today. From that moment on he’s off and running, blaming the deregulation of the 1980s for sowing the seeds of a culture of greed.
As always, Moore doesn’t provide the whole picture, and doesn’t pretend to. He doesn’t make “documentary films.” I’d call what he does “advocacy cinema,” and it’s completely subjective. But I think his examples in this case are persuasive and powerful, and a climactic piece of footage featuring President Franklin D. Roosevelt is particularly poignant.
Obviously, Moore has become a polarizing figure for many people, and there are those who wouldn’t dream of watching this movie even if they might agree with its conclusions. I found it engrossing and extremely upsetting, which I think is an appropriate reaction to the outrageous situation he depicts so well.