Friday, May 15, 2009
Michael Moore & Sicko (2007)
The most powerful portions of the movie are the stories of the ways that the American HMO system screws Americans. The audio footage of Nixon enthusiastically endorsing a system that treats fewer patients is particularly chilling. It's hard to watch stories of patients refused treatment or given the run-around by the system and not feel shocked and appalled. Technically it's probably nothing I didn't know or suspect, but Moore picks some great subjects. This is the best stuff.
Where Moore falters is in showing the systems of other countries: Canada, England, France, and Cuba. As someone who agrees with him about universal health care, there is no doubt that I would prefer a Canadian or European system of universal care. I do question, however, whether showing rich British and French system and all they can afford is really the best way of making his point. What's the point, that people can be rich even with high taxes?? Not revolutionary. It would have been more interesting to see how the poor and working-class are treated in these countries, because I think this would show the importance of a universal system in a more poignant way. It would also have been interesting to see problems that universal systems have endured and how they solved these problems.
I did find Moore's visit to Cuba with 9/11 rescue workers who had been denied care very moving. The fact that a person can get a medicine for about $.05 in Cuba that would cost $120 in the US is appalling. It's hard not to be moved by people being treated with dignity.
So, Moore continues his pattern of documentaries. He preaches to the choir (including me) and we agree with him. He throws in enough questionable material for his detractors to criticize him. I'm hoping that one of these days he matures as a film maker and realizes that sometimes nuance can beat out the obvious.