Michael Moore Is Very Brave

Last night I was lucky enough to see a preview of Moore's new documentary Sicko, which is due to premiere at Cannes on Saturday. On the whole, I think this is his most compelling and reasoned film. Targeted more at mainstream America than globetrotting literati, the film makes a strong case for nationalized healthcare by comparing our sicko, broken "managed care" system here very unfavorably with Canada's, Britain's, and France's. France, home of the Cannes Festival (hello Palme d'Or numéro deux?), shines brightest under Moore's lights, with its 35-hour work week, 5 weeks of paid vacation, free healthcare, and exceptional maternity leave, which includes visits from government social workers who will assist mothers with just about anything--including laundry.

The film's most brilliant irony concerns a group of 9/11 rescue workers denied any kind of compensatory care for their severe health problems caused by their heroic work in the Ground Zero charnel pit. Moore takes them on a boat ride to crash the only place in America which offers excellent free health care: Guantanamo Prison--GITMO. Not surprisingly, the military does not agree to host them, and they end up testing demonized Castro's healthcare system where they are treated--surprise, surprise--with dignity, professionalism, and absolutely no bureaucratic red tape.

Healthcare is big business and big profit in the U.S. and its lobbying dollars are unmatched even by big oil. Democrats (Hillary, among them) as well as Republicans are very indebted to HMOs and pharmaceutical companies for their seats in Congress. National health care is the way of the future, but it will be a long, mean fight against corporate interests. Michael Moore has bravely lobbed the first volley of the national debate. Hopefully this will stimulate constructive dialogue among all Americans.

Though I've seen four of his films where his passion for the little guy is evident throughout, I was curious about what the man was like in person. The baseball hat, the tentish T-shirt, the shorts and hightops were his outfit for the evening and they seem to suit him well for his unpretentious, self-effacing character. Watching him interact with 9/11 rescue workers and others consulted or related to the Sicko production, I could not help being moved by his enormous compassion for people. Sicko is not a film about ideas, it is a call for action. And this man is the real deal, a true patriot dedicated to fight the injustices and indignities endured by all Americans.
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