Michael Moore invades Toronto film festival
OTTAWA, Canada—Provocateur Michael Moore is back after a six-year absence with a new documentary film, “Where to Invade Next,” pitching once again socialist ideals put to the test abroad to his fellow countrymen.
The film premiered at the Toronto film festival.
Based on its title, it was initially thought to be an indictment of America’s military zeal.
But the movie actually delves very little into US military misadventures abroad.
Instead, Moore uses the term “invasion” to mean plundering other nations’ notions of happy workers, good education, humane prisons and empowered women.
He then presents these as examples of how life should be in the United States.
“I hope nobody will be mad at me, and (audiences will) appreciate the prankish nature of it all,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
“All the countries that don’t spend 60 percent of their economy on so-called defense, spend the money on their people.
“So in a way, the perpetual war, the military industrial complex has resulted in the America we now have where we are not number one in probably anything anymore.”
The Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker places himself in the action, as a pseudo conqueror who plants the American flag wherever he goes, baffling onlookers.
Greener on the other side
His travels in search of spoils take him to tuition-free Slovenia, to Italy and its jaw-dropping two-hour lunches and eight weeks of vacation per year for workers, to Portugal, which saw its addiction rate plummet after decriminalizing drug use, and to Norway to showcase humane prisons that boast a low rate of recidivism.
He also visits Iceland and Tunisia, where he claims women are fully empowered.
And he returns to France—his 2007 documentary film “Sicko” praised its health care system—to tour schools.
There, he tries to tempt French schoolchildren with Coca-Cola, while he himself is astonished at the tasty meals in its cafeterias, notably the large selection of cheeses.
The French schoolchildren, meanwhile, gasp at photos of lunches served in Boston schools that look like mush.
Moore contrasts sex education curriculum in France that promotes condom use with footage of US presidential candidate Rick Perry insisting that teaching abstinence works when confronted with a high teen pregnancy rate in Texas.
Arguably, the filmmaker cherry-picked only some of the most successful social programs across Europe, while glossing over their problems.
The film is unlikely to win over Moore’s detractors but got a few laughs from Toronto audiences.
The real rub, however, comes at the end, when Moore reveals that the ideas implemented by these countries originally came from America, but never really took off there—such as an equal-rights amendment to Tunisia’s constitution.
“Where To Invade Next” is Moore’s first film since “Capitalism: A Love Story” in 2009 in which he assesses a culture of greed on Wall Street that led to the global financial crisis.
He previously earned an Academy Award for Best Documentary for “Bowling for Columbine,” which bashed American gun culture in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre of 12 students and a teacher.
It briefly became the highest grossing documentary film of all time, before Moore beat his own box office record with “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
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