The main problem with any Michael Moore movie these days is that Michael Moore made it. Before the reels begin to turn, a lot of people are going to love it and a lot of people are going to dismiss it out of hand. For those precious few who walk into the theater to see SiCKO with an open mind, they’re going to leave with a hell of a lot to think about it.
Three years after Fahrenheit 9/11 solidified Moore’s reputation as a bastion of liberal politics, he turns his lens on the American health care system. Providing shocking facts and humanizing each story, Moore ably dismantles the perception that HMOs are there for the patients. Starting with Richard Nixon, Moore examines the progression of U.S. health care companies from the start of Kaiser Permanente, to Hillary Clinton’s failed attempts to nationalize health care, to her recent campaign contribution reports, showing she and the HMOs have kissed and made up.
Michael Moore (left)
Moore spends much of the second half of the film examining the universal health care systems that countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and France provide. Amusing at first, Moore overdoes it — you can only watch a foreign health provider say the service is free so many times before it gets boring. We get the point. While this section could be cut dramatically, it’s the portion of the film that features Moore the most — so I guess it wasn’t going anywhere.
In a gimmick that is very Michael Moore, he takes a couple of ailing Ground Zero workers to Guantanamo Bay and then Havana for care. Even though it’s clearly a stunt, it’s surprisingly touching. Say what you will about Michael Moore, he knows how to tell a story.
Though on the opposite end of the political spectrum, Moore is about as fair and balanced as FOX News. Fact-checkers are undoubtedly working hard to prove or debunk his position, and I’m sure a counter-SiCKO film will soon be sitting on the shelf next to the anti-Da Vinci Code film. Regardless of that, if even a fraction of the horror stories Moore shares are true, I’m going to make sure to look twice before crossing the street for a while.
If laughter is the best medicine, then forget going to the doctor — just see Ratatouille, Pixar’s new animated feat. Written and directed by Brad Bird, who also brought us The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Ratatouille is yet another visually stunning, heartwarming, fun film for any age viewer.
At first glance, the thought of a movie about a rat who becomes a renowned Parisian chef isn’t really, well, appetizing. But who knew that a rat could be so cute? With his big eyes, twitching nose, and fuzzy blue fur, Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) is irresistible. Continuing with the age-old tradition of family tragedy in feature-length animated films, when separated from his father and brother, Remy befriends a hopeless orphan, Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano). On their quest to make it on their own, Remy is aided by the imaginary spirit of his favorite television chef while Linguini starts to fall for the knife-wielding chef, Colette (Janeane Garofalo). Together, they all make culinary magic — and learn a couple life lessons before it’s all over.
As wonderfully cute and kid-friendly as Ratatouille is, the level of jokes and subtle asides clearly aimed at the older audience are equally enthralling. And it’s never too old to get a good dose of the moral of a story: Sometimes you have to follow the recipe, sometimes you have to follow your gut. The true trick to growing up is knowing the difference between the two.
Ratatouille is one of those films that needs to be watched over and over again. The sheer volume of brilliant images and animated wonders are impossible to catch the first time. Whether it be the coffin-shaped office of the evil food critic or the amazing cooking feats of hundreds of rats, you hesitate to blink lest you miss the slightest subtle detail. It’s frustrating knowing that the animators are more clever than you are, but at least it’s going to be fun trying to catch all their hidden surprises. While this film may not be as incredible as the last, Bird has cooked up another masterpiece with Ratatouille — one that leaves you hungry for more.