Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Big One


The Big One; Documentary, USA/UK, 1997; D: Michael Moore, S: Michael Moore, Rick Nielsen, Phil Knight, Studs Terkel

Michael Moore is telling jokes in front of the audience on the expense of the politicians. His point is that US politicians, like Pat Buchanan, take donations from everyone, numerous Americans are unemployed, while all around the US the mega-corporations are sending industry to Third World countries. Since Moore is unemployed himself, he wrote a book, "Downsize This" and shot this documentary about himself and other workers who have lost their jobs - despite companies making huge profit. Along his tour, he promotes his book and jokes on his own account (the cover of his book contains his photo on which his fingernails were digitally "improved") and meets the employees who lost their jobs to interview them. Some of them cannot comprehend why they reduced the number of jobs if their chocolate company is making record profit.

A younger Moore had more energy than in his following humorous documentaries that question Capitalism, though he is again unfocused and some parts seem like propaganda at times. Still, he documents some events which serve as an archive for history, like when he speaks about mega-corporations paying minimum wage to Third World workers in order to cheaply make their products which are then sold for huge profit, while some workers in the US get only 5 $ an hour for their job. A big flaw is also that the film revolves too much around Moore himself, and too little around those unemployed people, whereas many CEOs refused to give any interviews. The humor is again his strongest virtue: in one scene, he makes fun of Steve Forbes ("Steve Forbes never blinks. Have you noticed that? He was today on Larry King and he didn't blink for a whole hour!") and "awards" companies with a "worst employer" award. His film "The Big One" managed to extract two golden moments: one is when an airline company is cheaply hiring convicts in prison (!) to do their services via phone or computer and the other one is when Moore does a great interview with Phil Knight. In an ironic jab at himself, knowing he will be hugely unpopular after all these documentaries, Moore said this when he saw a naked man: "I thought: these companies are so greedy, they didn't even buy clothes for my assassin!"

Grade:+++

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