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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Does Michael Moore get a free pass from the liberal media?

September 8, 2009 |  1:19 pm

Michaelmoore

Judging from all the fear and loathing and sheer snarkiness emanating out of the conservative blogosphere, you'd think that Michael Moore was nearly as big a threat to a free society as Hugo Chavez and the Obama healthcare plan. According to conservative blogger Christian Toto, among others, the liberal media is always giving Moore a free pass. He expects a similarly one-sided reception for the filmmaker's upcoming documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story," which just premiered at the Venice Film Festival before heading to Toronto (it opens in Los Angeles later this month).

In a post he wrote for Big Hollywood, Toto claims that Moore is "always" guaranteed rave reviews from most film critics, softball questions in interviews and a huge dose of ticket-selling Oscar buzz. I'm not saying Toto is wrong, though I'd argue that the media makes just as big a fuss about plenty of other filmmakers (starting with Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Michael Mann) simply because it's infatuated with their films, not because it endorses or even cares about their politics.

At any rate, Variety has the first authoritative review up of Moore's film -- and it hardly reads like a liberal valentine, with just as many caveats as kudos. It calls "Capitalism" one of Moore's best films but goes on to say: "There's still plenty here to annoy right-wingers, as well as those who, however much they agree with Moore's politics, just can't stomach his oversimplification, on-the-nose sentimentality and goofball japery." 

The movie features home movie footage of Moore as a towheaded child, "visibly overjoyed to be visiting Wall Street on a vacation to New York from his hometown of Flint, Michigan," as well as a sequence in which Moore and his dad visit the vacant lot that had been the location of the factory where Moore Sr. once worked (I'm guessing that is one of the scenes that inspired the Variety reviewer, Leslie Felperin, to call Moore out for on-the-nose sentimentality). It sounds like the funniest scene involves Moore attempting to find a banker who can explain the concept behind derivatives. When he finally corners a Wall Street type and asks him for some advice, the banker instantly responds: "Stop making films!"

The likelihood of that? Less than zero. Here's the trailer, which is a hoot"


Photo: Michael Moore. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times.

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