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Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
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Michael Moore's "Sicko" Reactions

mm: moore on the red carpetmm: moore on the red carpetMichael Moore's new documentary "Sicko" opened Saturday in Cannes and reactions are mixed, often based on the viewer's home country.

The film adresses how the United States' health care system works, and why this world power of a country has such a bad one.  It shows the birth of the sytem starting with President Nixon, and a large part of the film is devoted to describing how the US Congress passed a law that essentially makes it so this system- one that makes it impossible for much of the country to afford health care- can't be changed, due to drug companies involvement and lots of money.

In fact, "Sicko" points out, when her husband was in office, Hillary Clinton tried to make people aware of this terrible law and raised a bill, waking people and showing them how that the way the health care system works absolutely goes against basic principles of democracy; but ithe bill didn't pass in Congress.

Another big part of the film shows how health systems work in countries of Canada, the UK, France, and Cuba, and compares them, while especially pointing out how not only do these countries have better systems- they're free.

Reactions to the film were interesting after the second showing of the film Sunday, but also when you think about it, quite predictable. French people loved it, and Americans are depressed. "I'm moving to Canada. Or France, I better learn french. Or Cuba, yes I could move to Cuba," one American said.

Another said, "This is really depressing because this is our system and it's messed up."

Moore, always the controversial figure, has a style that is exaggerated, some even say manipulative, critics say. But by now, "Sicko" being Moore's third major documentary (after Bowling for Columbine in 2002 and Fahrenheit 911 in 2004), Moore has established this style as his own; viewers know this and expect this and whether or not they think the content is manipulative or exaggerated, they appreciate the final product. It's as if Moore has found away to achieve success through his criticisms.

"I found it excellent," one grinning french woman said. "A little exagerated, for example I know the French social health care system very well and he didn't get it exactly right, but that's not a big thing, that doesn't change anything about the film, everyone knows he exaggerates.  The film was very good."

"I hate Michael Moore but I actually really liked the movie," one young Canadian said.

The Canadian was in a group of three with a Cuban and someone from England, and the three agreed on Moore's style. After going on about how it was very good and well argued, they still thought it had propoganda. "He could have chosen less extreme cases of people," the Englishwoman said. "But that's his style."

Walking slowly down the stairs from "The 60th Room" where the film played, people were silent, and only a few soft voices between pairs could be heard. "...He really knows how to establish talent, he's just brilliant at it," one voice said.

There were also many glances at watches. Two hours and two minutes, a common complaint among French and Americans was that it was too long.

Other comments were, "Again, another 'trés bien' film from Michael Moore."

"It was good, a classic Michael Moore film."

"...The best of his last three."

Set to open in theaters in the U.S. on 4th of July weekend, it will be interesting to see what reactions are there, and if it will inspire any activism.


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About Elisabeth

Bartlett Elisabeth
Blogging about the festival scene from Los Angeles

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