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Where to Invade Next (2015)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/10/2016
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/29/2016
It's safe to assume that movies are meant to elicit a response, and we can take that idea further and say that different genres generate different responses. With documentaries, the goal is to make the audience think. Whether it be a subject which is completely unknown or something controversial, if a documentary does its job, you will be contemplating the subject after the movie, and possibly discussing it with others. If a documentary goes above and beyond, it can make one feel as well. In most cases, that feeling can be sadness, as many docs deal with unpleasant issues. Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next hits all of the buttons, as it made me think, but it also made me very depressed, as it shows us what life could be like.
In Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore travels the globe (well, mostly in Europe) to see what specific government policies are like and how these effect the citizens. His first stop is Italy, where he learns about labor practices. By interviewing a couple (one of whom is a police officer), and the employees and executives at a motorcycle plant and a fashion firm, Moore learns that Italians get several months of paid vacation each year, as well as paid family leave. And the companies still turn a huge profit. From there, he travels to France, where we see that students in even the poorest schools receive freshly-made, healthy, gourmet lunches everyday. The next stop is Finland, which boasts very effective schools where the students don't have homework and are offered a wide-ranging curriculum. In Slovenia, Moore meets with students who attend college for free, some of whom are from America. (A practice which occurs in most European countries.) When Moore visits Germany, he's exposed to labor laws which limit how long employees can work and even block after-hours e-mails. Portugal informs Moore that their unique drug laws benefit law enforcement. Likewise, the very different prison system focuses on actually rehabilitating the criminals. In Tunisia, Moore sees first-hand how women's rights have changed that Muslim country. And finally, in Iceland, Moore meets with female CEOs and learns how women have changed the economy there.
If nothing else, Michael Moore has does something which seems impossible in today's pop culture obsessed America -- he's a documentarian that people have actually heard of. (I would say that Ken Burns would be the only other person with that distinction.) He also has the distinction of being one of the most divisive filmmakers working today. Since his 1989 debut Roger & Me, Moore has shown an unflinching desire to pursue topics which he feels effect working-class Americans. His approach often borders on rude and intrusive, but it is effective. While many applaud Moore's seemingly never-ending crusade to right wrongs, there are those who criticize his work, claiming that he constantly bends the truth in order to satisfy his left-wing audience.
No matter your feelings on Moore, I feel that every American should see Where to Invade Next, as it's an eye-opening piece of filmmaking. Again, I'm sure that Moore's detractors will claim that he is lying here, but I don't see how that can be. He's simply reporting the facts of what goes on in other countries and how it benefits those who live there. With his research, Moore states that he's "picking flowers, not weeds", meaning that he's focusing on the positive policies in these countries which America should adopt. Do these countries have problems which aren't being shown? Of course they do. Is Moore only focusing on the positive aspects of his subjects. Yes. But, that doesn't diminish the fact that what we are witnessing here are things which work for those countries and could possibly work in America if tried.
By no means do I want to turn this review into a political rally, but I feel that Moore didn't hit quite hard enough on what should have been the most important part of Where to Invade Next. If you ask people if they would be willing to pay more in taxes, the vast majority would say no, claiming that they are taxed enough already. The problem with questions like that is that they don't go far enough. In the film, Moore illustrates that if Americans would be willing to pay just a little more in taxes, as most Europeans do, then they wouldn't have to pay for daycare, college, and medical expenses. Is there a perfect system for this? Probably not, but if more people understood that paying a little more now could save a lot more in the future, then perhaps the political landscape in this country would change.
In my opening, I claimed that Where to Invade Next left me feeling depressed and that was no exaggeration. I would love to live in a world where I got a generous amount of paid vacation, I didn't have to worry about how I was going to pay for my children's college education, where my kids would crave school lunches, where my kids had more free time, and where my wife could work a normal workday. That would be great. And knowing that America could be like this if the right people would get behind it makes me sad. So, kudos to Michael Moore for illuminating us on how other countries make things work, but also, shame on him for making me want a better life.
Where to Invade Next is more than just an excuse for Michael Moore to tour Europe on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. Save for the archive footage, which was clearly beyond the control of those who did this transfer, the video here looks great. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent and the landscape shots show great depth. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The film openings with the sound of a plane landing and this roar fills the speakers and jumpstarts the subwoofer. From there, the movie settles into documentary mode, where we get occasional stereo effects from the music, but most importantly dialogue which is always intelligible.
The Where to Invade Next Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long