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SiCKO Hits Above the Belt

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 26, 2007 2:00PM

A.O Scott’s review of the new Michael Moore movie begins with a very astute observation; namely, that whenever Moore’s name is brought up it is inevitably attached to adjectives such as “polarizing,” “controversial,” “provocative,” and “muck-raking.” And that it is the media itself which perpetuates the use of these adjectives. Would one describe Steven Spielberg as “polarizing?” Spielberg has two films in the top ten highest-grossing films of all time and no one describes him that way. Yet (among documentaries) Moore has two films in the top five. How “controversial” can a filmmaker be and yet sell so many tickets? We just think he’s a filmmaker possessing a keen instinct for issues that get people riled up, which is a good thing.

2007_6sicko.jpg And on that count SiCKO hits the nail right on the head. Sneak previews over the weekend at 43 locations sold out completely at every location (including Chicago’s Landmark Century), and on a single screen in NYC it netted $70,000. Few people these days are even willing to posit that the American health care system is just fine and dandy (except for the health insurance industry itself), so where’s the controversy? Even the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academies agrees with Moore’s conclusions.

We’re lucky enough to have a day job that includes decent health care coverage, and we’re fortunate enough to be in good health most of the time. But if either of those should ever change …

It scares the pants off us.

Moore was in town over the weekend, leading a rally before a special screening (and introduced by Studs Terkel no less). He was also happy to talk about his new diet, recommended to him by Roger Ebert. Later he sat in as a guest on the NPR quiz show “Wait wait … don’t tell me!” He won, guessing two out of three etiquette questions correctly.

We’ll be going to see the film this weekend when it goes into wider release; we’re not expecting it to provide all the answers but we do hope it’ll finally trigger come concrete action. How about you? Are you planning on going? Do you have any health coverage horror stories of your own to share?

poster by Bemis Balkind