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Friday, June 29, 2007

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on June 29 at 14:49 PM

Summer movies just hit you in the face. Here’s what’s up this weekend.

Already open for several days: Live Free or Die Hard. Andrew Wright says it’s pretty great.

Opening today: Sicko, from the inimitable (and I don’t mean that as a compliment, exactly) Michael Moore.


Sicko is perfectly entertaining, but it’s perhaps the least informative movies about single-payer healthcare I could imagine. I could’ve gotten more cogent arguments from a soft-money issue ad. Here’s my full review.

And don’t overlook Ratatouille, which despite appearances…


…. may end up being one of the best movies of the summer. Seriously. Here’s an extended version of the review Charles Mudede wrote for the print edition. And you needn’t take Charles’s word for it (though we wish you would)—check out the stacks upon stacks of 100s on Metacritic right now.

Reviewed in On Screen this week: the star-studded (groan) Evening, in which an imaginary angel makes an appearance, and the dishy ShowBusiness, in which four major musicals workshop and rehearse and shovel fodder toward the tabloids on the way to their Broadway debuts.

The specialty theaters are all bunching up in Suggests this week. Don’t miss the locally produced Walking to Werner at Northwest Film Forum (late show tonight followed by a party featuring Today!, a band made up of Dayna Hanson, Maggie Brown of We Go Way Back, and some serious musicians). We didn’t have much room in the film section this week for a long review, but you should read my profile of filmmaker Linas Phillips, written while Walking to Werner was being edited. The film is absorbing and unnervingly spiritual. The best thing about it is the half-serious, half-cheeky way Phillips deploys found narration, repurposed from commentary tracks on Werner Herzog’s films. It’s a technique without precedent, as far as I know, and it probably won’t be repeated.

Finally, at the Grand Illusion, an awesome program of monster-movie double features starts tonight with The Thing From Another World and The Thing. The J-horror late night, Ghost Train, doesn’t sound half-bad either.

See Get Out for all your Movie Times needs. Like The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Big Screen Extravaganza at the Egyptian. And old-school pirate movies at Northwest Film Forum. And Duck Soup.

Rats and HMOs and Things, oh my!

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"...but it’s perhaps the least informative movies about single-payer healthcare I could imagine..."

Hyperbole alert.

Posted by DOUG. | June 29, 2007 4:35 PM

'Walking to Werner' is UNMISSABLE - and I know that younger teens are crazy about it - something about this incredible journey is great for folks engaged in self-making, of any age, but particularly the young'uns. If my younger brother was still a teen and not the fabulous twentysomething next-big-thing of the glam-country scene that he is, I would take the train up to Seattle just to get him to see this movie. A doc that is about the real world of the struggle for meaning - and hilarious, and dare I say it? Heartwarming. If you don't love it I'll give you ten bucks.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | June 29, 2007 4:36 PM

The movie isn't even about single-payer health care, it's about the failings of the US health care "system." Moore might endorse the single-payer system, but that's not the movie's main argument. The argument is that health care in this country is broken and that medical coverage (preferably provided by the state) should be universal.

Posted by Jay | June 29, 2007 4:43 PM

@3: No, that's my point. You haven't seen it yet, have you? Half of the movie and more than half of Moore's emphasis concerns the perfection of single-payer health care in other countries. And I do not use "perfection" lightly.

Posted by annie | June 29, 2007 5:22 PM

Yes, Moore endorses universal health care in the movie, yes he shows foreign countries with universal health care systems, yes he's completely uncritical of single-payer, and yes I have seen it. All that said, I still think it's about how our system is broken, which it is, far more broken than the single-payer systems he highlights. It's a moral and ethical argument, one that doesn't require overt economic analysis.

He simply says "this is the ideal ethical health care model to me, these are the counties that are closer to the mark." His argument isn't complex because he's not making much of one, he's not saying "this is how it would work in the US" and I don't think he's obligated to work out those details.

I agree with you if you think he's uncritical and polemical. But I don't see a real argument aside from "health care sucks here, it's better here." On some level I think you and I agree with the the problems with Moore's film making, I just think the argument he's making is basic and polemical- ultimately any argument for universal health care falls back on the simple moral premise that the government has an obligation to protect its citizens. How it would work is deadly important, but Moore's not talking about that- he's saying the U.S. has let down its citizens. As a propaganda piece it's effective and it has the potential to move the debate (at least on the center left) from this bullshit about requiring everyone pay for private insurance to true universal health care. And that could only be a good thing.

Posted by Jay | June 29, 2007 7:08 PM

Annie: I don't know if you read Denby's review yet, but you'd probably like it.

Posted by Jay | June 29, 2007 7:33 PM

Does Moore ever address the fact that the French system isn't single payer?

Posted by keshmeshi | June 29, 2007 10:28 PM

Like I said, Moore talks about universal health care/insurance, not single payer specifically. Annie just called it that because Canada has a single payer system.

Posted by Jay | June 30, 2007 12:34 AM

Oh, and because Moore has advocated for a single-pay system in public forums other than the film.

Posted by Jay | June 30, 2007 12:36 AM

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