Director Michael Moore wearing advertising for his latest work, Downsize This!




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  • Friday, September 5, 1997

    Acclaimed film maker Michael Moore shows off 'The Big One'

    By JOHN POWELL
    Jam! Showbiz

     Bend over Big Business. Spread 'em, o' glorious Captains of Industry. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, the baseball-capped, blue-jeaned and collared, left-wing champion of the downtrodden worker is on the war path again pissing on your front gate. Sir Moore of Flint, Michigan, the contemporary white knight riding in on rented van to slay ye fire-breathing capitalist dragons devouring America. His trusty camera crew recording the chivalrous quest.
     
     A companion to his bestseller Downsize This!, the scathing yet humorous rant against Big Business' accepted practice of slicing and dicing their work force while profits skyrocket; the film shadows the mischievous Moore embarking on a whirlwind "47 cities in 50 days" tour across the U.S.A. promoting the book for publisher Random House.
     
     Touching down in each city, Moore is greeted by Random House "media escorts", the majority being smartly dressed, blonde-haired, blue-eyed women. One supposes the Random House assembling line runs 24 hours a day at the top secret cloning plant that once housed the division printing drivel by Judith Krantz, Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart as well as storing warehouses of unsold high school dictionaries. The Children Of The Damned-like celebrity babysitters unwitting accomplices and the subject of ridicule and crafty pranks.
     
     A clear objective as that in Roger And Me which had our dauntless director attempting to land a face-to-face interview with Roger Smith, (the chairman of General Motors), is gone. Moore does hold court with Nike CEO, Phil Knight, but The Big One (Moore's suggestion as the new name for America) parallels his unique television series - TV Nation - stinging satirical counterattacks against corporate America.
     
     In addition to Moore's spiteful but funny guerrilla media offensives which have the usually slick business types squirming and stammering on camera; ex-Presidential candidate, Steve Forbes, is said to be a "freaky X-File from another planet" because not even his party faithful can tell us where "their leader" comes from or where he was born. Investigations into TWA and Microsoft lays to bare their hiring of prison inmates as cheap labor. Campaign contributions are mailed under the guise of the John Wayne Gacey Fan Club, The Hemp Growers of America and Satanists For Dole to those competing in the last U.S. election (some of the cheques graciously cashed). Moore jams with Cheap Trick axe-man, Rick Nielsen, committing untold damage on The Times They Are A' Changin' and On The Road Again.
     
     The Big One's a forum for bitter downsized (Which translated into normal English means legally canned without just cause.) workers to vent their frustration, anger and sense of downright betrayal by companies they thought valued and respected them. A voice given to the voiceless.
     
     What smears the film's good intentions is when the realization sinks in that Moore bought into his fame as an author while on tour. We see the defender of the common man seated in First Class beaming from ear to ear commenting on how crowded it is "back there". Segments of Moore as a guest speaker portray him as a wannabe stand-up comedian not the contentious social crusader we are accustomed to. A scene in which he gloats over book sales while yammering on a cellular phone checkmates the guessing game.
     
     Two photos: one depicting the shell of the Oklahoma Federal Building, the other of a crumbling GM factory in Flint, Michigan, juxtaposed in Moore's book and in the film relay his state of mind. He's dove off the deep end into an empty pool. Taking his cue from the ever subtle Oliver Stone, Moore drills his message home and we in response grope for a bottle of aspirin and a glass of water to quell the pounding.
     
     The Pay Day candy bar protest - travel footage as filler x Moore hugging an unemployed woman x the Downsizer Of The Year awards x What if GM sold crack? x Moore for saying: "They put vegetables on my Fillet O' Fish, those f---ers!" x Phil Knight on the hot seat - Moore calling Great Britain a "dinky island" x a Media Escort for saying: "Michael is a floor sample of courage." + Queen's "Rock You" = Our hero has fallen.

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