Despite its provocative title, Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore’s latest film is not about waging war, though its message is delivered with great stealth and subversion worthy of a great general.
Armed with humor and information, Where to Invade Next is a clever film that has viewers laughing one minute and shaking their fists in anger the next.
The film confronts much of what is wrong in the United States and much of what is right in other countries.
Can America do better? The film delivers its target, a resounding yes.
The film’s positive notes are surprising aspects of Where to Invade Next, the subject of this month’s Salem Progressive Film Series.
It’s a change for Moore who made the anti-gun polemic Bowling for Columbine, and Fahrenheit 9/11 that lambasts the Bush administrations for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Moore’s last movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, explored corporate greed and the high price of capitalism.
For Salem Progressive Film Series board member Cindy Kimball the entertaining and inspirational qualities of Where to Invade Next make for a good December selection.
“We don’t like to show films (in December) that might produce too much anxiety. This one is positive with a lot of great ideas for ways America could emulate some of the things that are successful in other countries,” Kimball said.
Following the film, an audience discussion will be led by Laurie Trieger, Family Forward Oregon Outreach Director, and John Gear, a Salem attorney engaged in a values-based law practice, and who volunteers in the community and has led election reforms.
In the film, Moore strikes out as an army of one. As he grips an American flag, he sets out to “invade” countries to steal ideas for solving problems in the United States—the erosion of the middle class, health care, skyrocketing prison populations, poor education, to name a few.
His first stop is Italy where workers take, by law, four weeks of annual paid vacation , and then heads to Slovenia where college is free and students fight to keep it that way.
At each stop, he plants the stars and stripes, claiming ideas for the United States.
He explores a prison system in Norway where guards have no guns, and to Tunisia where women fought for equal rights and representation.
In Portugal, he finds the decriminalization of drugs led to an overall decrease in drug use, and in Iceland, he talks to prosecutors who jailed bankers that created a financial meltdown.
The contrasts to American conditions are striking. Here, new mothers have no paid maternity leave, and paid vacation is up to the employer or mandated through a union contract.
In the U.S., college students are saddled with debt, and nearly 2.3 million people are in prison, many of them on drug-related charges.
But, not all is hopeless. Despite the daunting problems, work is going on at all levels to change things for the better.
Trieger of Family Forward Oregon said her agency works in Oregon to insure women and families have economic security, and workers have paid sick time. The agency is also pushing for equal pay for women, and affordable childcare.
An informational table in the Grand Theatre lobby will give film-goers more information on how to get involved.
For Trieger, the film is a great start for discussion and action. “It is certainly instructive and certainly thought-provoking and it definitely raises important issues.”
Where to Invade Next
Salem Progressive Film Series
Guest speakers & audience discussion to follow
Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m.
Salem’s Historic Grand Theatre
191 High St. NE, Salem