Michael Moore pulls no punches in his hard-hitting new documentary blasting evil capitalism, which premiered on Sunday at the Venice film festival.
But in typical fashion, the Oscar-winning filmmaker delivers the message of Capitalism: A Love Story with large doses of biting humor and a few dollops of inspiration.
Journalists were given an advance showing of the latest film from the creator of Fahrenheit 9/11 on Saturday on the eve of its official premiere at the world s oldest film festival.
Asserting that Americans have been brainwashed to believe that capitalism is compatible with God s law, Moore runs black and white footage of hypnotists using twirling spirals to mesmerize their patients.
I must have missed that part of the Bible when Jesus embraced capitalism, says the filmmaker, followed by a sequence using scenes from Franco Zeffirelli s Jesus of Nazareth in which the Son of God s lines are dubbed with him giving investment advice.
Getting semi-serious, Moore recalls that before Reaganomics, the wealthiest Americans were taxed at 90 percent, people had four weeks vacation and their pensions were untouchable.
We then see Reagan, in one of his B-movies, saying: Well I can change that in a hurry, then slapping a woman in the face.
It was not long before his treasury secretary, Don Regan from Merrill Lynch, saw to it that the top tax rate was cut in two.
The film alternates horror stories with inspirational ones.
A jail for juveniles is privatized, and judges are bribed to help fill the cells; pan to yacht called Reel Justice.
Blue chip companies like Bank of America, Citibank and AT&T allegedly take out life insurance policies on their employees – referred to as dead peasant policies – and cash in on them when they die.
The worst horror, of course, has been the sub-prime mortgage debacle resulting in home foreclosures that are still taking place, Moore says, every seven and a half seconds.
This is what Wall Street has come to: an insane casino. We ve allowed them to bet on our family home, he says as an activist encourages people to become squatters in your own homes.
After the financial meltdown and massive government bailout for Goldman Sachs and other favored institutions, in what Moore calls a financial coup d etat, he drives an armored car to Wall Street to try to make citizen s arrests and take back taxpayers money.
In another scene at the epicentre of American capitalism, he cordons off the banks with yards and yards of yellow crime scene tape, stopping to wrap some around Merrill Lynch s iconic bull sculpture.
On the inspirational side, a nine-day sit-in by laid-off workers at a bankrupt Chicago factory, Republic Windows and Doors, finally prompted creditors Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase to reach a settlement of more than $1.75 million.
Moore shows footage of then president-elect Barack Obama saying: When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right.
There is also the case of a bakery entirely owned by its employees, from packers to the CEO, who each make more than $65,000 a year.
Recalling footage in which a priest says capitalism is radically evil, Moore ends with the harangue: Capitalism is an evil and you can t regulate evil. You have to eliminate it.
You have to replace it with something that is good for all people, and that something is democracy.