Archive for Movies

“SiCKO” – A Breath of Fresh Air

sicko-poster.jpgMichael Moore‘s film making doesn’t inspire instant devotion in me in the same way it does so many other people I know. While I invariably agree with his message, I find his methods manipulative and heavy-handed. Any kind of righteous outrage or rekindled activism I might feel during these moments is disrupted by the eye rolling I can’t contain.

Yet, I loved “SiCKO” (the juvenile poster notwithstanding), his latest offering that takes a look at the appalling state of health care in the U.S. This is my favorite of all his films that I’ve seen, and perhaps, one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

I saw a sneak preview of “SiCKO” tonight and Moore was in attendance for Q&A. I wish I took notes, but I’ve tried to capture as much as I can remember. Since so much of the film’s narrative punch sits within much of the facts he reveals, I’ll try my best to not include any spoilers.

What makes “SiCKO” so effective to me, is the way it made me aware of my own incredulity at the details of universal health care in countries like Canada, Great Britain and France. I couldn’t even conceive of how such systems worked, even as it was explained to me by the citizens who benefited from them.

This cognitive bankruptcy, a sort of slave mentality, is such a powerful tool because it colored the air I’ve become so accustomed to breathing. Normally you don’t see it, or detect it with any of your senses. You don’t even think about it- your lungs and respiratory system just work, pulling it into your body. But that color gives it shape. It has weight and taste.

Things I was able to remember from the Q&A

Someone asked the inevitable question, “Well, how much do the French pay in taxes?” I forget the number Moore responded with, but it seemed a high percentage of their income. Ack! Didn’t seem so enviable to me anymore.

But he asked the audience to call out what they pay for:

  • daycare – $800/month. A newborn costs $50/day apparently.
  • insurance premiums – anywhere from $500-1,000/month
  • school loans – $300/month

Just with this short list of typical debt, the amount came to approximately $20,000 a year. He said people would revolt if Bush announced that we would all have to pay this in taxes starting tomorrow.

Thing is, they are taxes. We pay them anyway and still get less than the French (watch the film and you’ll see what he means). They work less, and are more productive. They live longer.

He recalled the summer in France when 10,000 of their elderly died in the heat wave that scorched the country. The French were shamed into taking action. They said it was their Katrina when Moore asked about it.

So what did they do? Each person gives up one day of pay a year so that every elderly person in the country has air conditioning in their home.

Moore cited the polls in how many Americans are dissatisfied with the war in Iraq, and with Bush. The film’s distributor screened it for Republican audiences and the response has been “through the roof”. He talked about how he was booed at the Oscars and how so many of these people have since come around and apologized, seen “Fahrenheit 9/11” and question their conservative leaders.

He admitted to being an optimist, but said the time is right for a film like this to make a difference. It should. Health care is something that all of us, no matter what our political affiliation, can identify with. “SiCKO” does an incredible job of making us aware of the poisoned air we’ve been breathing without question or knowledge of its existence. Hopefully, it will inspire us to clear it.

“SiCKO” opens on June 29th. Go see it.

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Late to the Party: Firefly and Heroes

Cast of “Firefly”I blinked and missed “Firefly” when it was on TV. But word on the street talked it up, and recommendations for good TV always seemed to include it. (Thanks, D!)

Finally picked up a copy from the library and we’ve gotten about halfway through it. “Serenity” is on hold.

The few times I caught it while channel surfing, I didn’t know what to make of the six shooters in space thing. I guess I like my sci-fi with bright lasers streaking across the screen, sleek ships joined in outer space dogfights. “Battlestar Galactica” being the one big exception to the laser rule, even though they’re pissing away Season 3.

I just don’t like westerns. The whole outlaw, bar fight, saloon girl, arid climate, covered wagons and twangy guitar (which I like on its own) thing doesn’t do it for me. But I’m giving it a chance.

Sean Maher in “Firefly”The Reavers have yet to make an appearance, and I’m hoping there will be some kind of explanation as to why characters spontaneously exclaim in what sounds like Chinese. I’ve also been trying to figure out if Sean Maher, who plays the doctor, is cute. (I think I’ve decided he is.)

And I have no idea where they’re taking River, but I’m interested to see.

**SPOILER ALERT**

One thing I’ve noticed is that around 38 minutes in to each episode, with about 7 or 8 to go, things resolve themselves into a pat ending fairly quickly. Hurtling towards a big net that will fry everybody inside?  Open the airlock and shoot at it. Doctor and sister about to be burned at the stake? Serenity swoops in after its uncharacteristic departure earlier on. Duelling with swords against a superior opponent?  Emerge with a slight flesh wound over your defeated foe.

**/SPOILERS**

The episode order on the back of the DVD cases and in the menus themselves are all screwed up too. What’s up with that?

And then there’s “Heroes” on NBC/Sci Fi Channel. Seems like everyone I know is talking about it–even the ones not into comic books. When I heard about it before it started airing, it sounded like some lame attempt to cash in on the recent resurgence of comic book movies.

Perhaps. But I’m gonna start watching it now. Sci Fi is having a marathon next Wednesday (11/29), I believe. Funny how all those boyhood fantasies of having powers still exercise a hold on me.

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