Where to Invade Next (2015) By Michael Moore
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (2015) DIR. MICHAEL MOORE
This is such an unexpected film from the angry rabble rousing, cranky contrarian, Michael Moore. It is positively positive and a bit wistful. It’s not as if he has stopped finding fault with many of our country’s policies and practices. But he seems to have found a new approach to exposing the problems. It is actually quite radical and rather brilliant. He begins with a solution.
His appearance is still overwhelmingly scruffy and borderline unacceptable but his persona has morphed into an avuncular Mr. Roberts-style wide-eyed innocent on a mission for good. It is fairly corny as he plants a US flag and lays claim to those practices and policies which he wishes for the US.
He begins in Italy where he interviews a selection of middle class working people about their working conditions, hours, and most-importantly their paid vacations. In his purview they are more productive, satisfied and happy in their work. Seemingly equally gratified are their employers who seem to genuinely care about employee well-being and go to great lengths to create this favorable outcome.
Image above: from www.wheretoinvadenext.com
From there he travels around Europe, Scandinavia, as well as, Tunisia and Japan. He chooses his conquests carefully. There is homework-free education in Finland which has brought the country from way behind to number two academically; a penal system based on rehabilitation in Norway; well-composed and delicious healthy lunches for school children in France for a fraction of the cost for junk lunches in the US; free college for everyone in Slovenia (including foreign students); replacing incarceration for drug offenses with rehabilitation in Portugal; protection of women’s rights in Tunisia, the only Muslim country he visits. In Iceland they put the bankers who brought down the economy in jail. What a concept.
To be fair, none of these countries are utopian. They all have their own problems and inequities. But that is not the point. As Moore points out he has “come to pick the flowers, not the weeds”. By stripping away the politics and keeping it simple he makes his case broadly appealing with inarguably positive outcomes. As he muses on the source of these good ideas he posits that many of them came from our own history of governance and wonders why we went wrong and could we possibly go back to the better old days. It is provocative in a way that I never would have anticipated from Michael Moore. He has launched a charm offensive and I think it works.