By Evans Koukios
Ann Arbor is home to two specialty movie theaters, the State Theater and the Michigan Theater. Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” recently opened at the State on Feb. 13.
“Where to Invade Next” is Moore’s latest film after a six-year hiatus since “Capitalism: A Love Story” was released Sept. 23, 2009. Moore, born in Flint, Michigan in 1954, has been prolific as a journalist, author, screenwriter, documentary filmmaker, television commentator, actor and political activist. His latest movie is a mature synthesis of his many talents.
Moore takes a scholarly, sociological approach to a multitude of current social problems. He contrasts our approach to fixing these problems to solutions in places he visits on his tour of other countries. He couches the tour as a fanciful exercise of “invading” – not to plunder their riches or protect some misguided notion of our nationalism, but to understand the social ideas they have found to improve the lot of their citizens.
He first interviews a married couple in Italy who get up to eight weeks a year off from work, to vacation, make love and enjoy life. The interview makes us compare our system of employee wages and benefits, where workers are beaten down and driven to take multiple jobs with no benefits.
In Slovenia, he finds that all higher education is free and even American students who transfer to that country get the same free college education. There is no student debt and no drag on productivity and mental health.
He finds that Portugal has decriminalized all drugs and drug addiction is treated as a medical problem with success.
In Norway, he finds a prison system that treats criminals with suburban creature comforts. This, of course, is polar opposite to the “cruel and unusual punishment” that can be dished out in our American jails-for-profit system.
In Tunisia, women’s health and fair treatment is a right, and if compromised at all, will spur revolts. Closing Planned Parenthood Clinics would not be tolerated for one minute over there.
In Iceland, perpetrators of the bank frauds that required US. bank bailouts by our government, led to convictions of the white collar criminals and replacement of all of the executives with ethical women.
“Where to Invade Next” is a masterful piece of sociology wrapped in a fanciful, artistic story container. Michael Moore is a charming narrator and actor, and the people he interviews are real, genuine and thoughtful. The two hours of film viewing go by quickly.
His concluding segment on the taking down of the Berlin Wall in Germany brings home the stark contrast of fixing societal problems here. Donald Trumps’ tea-party rhetoric for building a wall on the Mexican border (and making the Mexicans pay for it) shows no lesson learned from history.
Two thumbs up and I even applauded when it ended on my visit to the State Theater’s screen.
I’d make it mandatory viewing for Trump, his supporters and all members of our Congress and government.
It’s R rating for very brief documentary nudity and violence is also misguided. It should be viewed and discussed in all of our public schools for its thought provoking and artistic qualities.