Sicko (Michael Moore, 2007)

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Antoine Doinel
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Sicko (Michael Moore, 2007)

#1 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu May 10, 2007 3:07 pm

Well, with the Weinstein's announcing a June 29th release date it seems everyone is already going into PR control.

First up, the U.S. Treasury Department:
U.S. Launches Probe of Moore's Trip to Cuba

Appearing to bestow on him the kind of free publicity that has made Michael Moore the best-known and best paid documentary filmmaker in the business, the U.S. Treasury Department has notified the filmmaker that it is conducting an investigation to determine whether he violated the U.S. trade embargo when he took a group of 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for treatment. The Cuba journey is included in Moore's upcoming documentary about the U.S. health-care system, Sicko, due to debut at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19. According to the Associated Press the government notice said that the Treasury Department had "no record that a specific license was issued authorizing you to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba." The A.P. said that after receiving the notice, Moore placed a copy of his film in a "safe house" outside the country. Meanwhile, Daily Variety reported today (Thursday) that The Weinstein Co., which is releasing the film had hired Chris Lehane, Al Gore's press secretary during the 2000 campaign, and New York publicist Ken Sunshine to handle the expected flak from the health-care industry over the film. "If the HMOs strike, I'm going to need two guys who can strike back," Harvey Weinstein told Variety.
And the response from Michael Moore's camp:
May 10th, 2007 9:34 am
Statement in Response to Bush Administration's Investigation of 'SiCKO'

'SiCKO,' Michael Moore's new movie, will rip the band-aid off America's health care industry. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in just one week and opening across the U.S. on June 29th, 'SiCKO' will expose the corporations that place profit before care and the politicians who care only about money. Our health care system is broken and, all too often, deadly. The efforts of the Bush Administration to conduct a politically motivated investigation of Michael Moore and 'SiCKO' will not stop us from making sure the American people see this film.

On September 11, 2001 this country was attacked. Thousands of Americans responded with heroism and courage, toiling for days, weeks and months in the ruins at Ground Zero. These 9/11 first responders risked their lives searching for survivors, recovering bodies, and clearing away toxic rubble. Now, many of these heroes face serious health issues -- and far too many of them are not receiving the care they need and deserve. President Bush and the Bush Administration should be spending their time trying to help these heroes get health care instead of abusing the legal process to advance a political agenda.

-- Meghan O'Hara, Producer, SiCKO

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Barmy
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#2 Post by Barmy » Thu May 10, 2007 4:12 pm

Wow, that invocation of 9/11 makes Giuliani look uncynical by comparison.

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#3 Post by tavernier » Thu May 10, 2007 4:26 pm

Barmy wrote:Wow, that invocation of 9/11 makes Giuliani look uncynical by comparison.
Nothing anyone--even Moore--does could be more cynical than what Ghouliani has (and hasn't) done.

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#4 Post by Roger_Thornhill » Thu May 10, 2007 5:51 pm

As someone who's gone through the troubled US health care system, I'm looking foward to what Moore has to say. It took more than 30 doctors, two and half years, tens of thousands of dollars, and a visit to the Mayo Clinic to finally get a diagnosis and treatment plan. I had a lousy insurance company too that made things even worse, but I was lucky, my sister knew a former director of the Mayo Clinic who got me off the nine month waiting list and got me an appointment right away. The healthcare in the US is certainly one of the best, if not the best in the world, but only if you can afford it and, in my case, know the right people.

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#5 Post by Nothing » Fri May 11, 2007 12:17 am

Roger_Thornhill wrote: but only if you can afford it
It's not one of the best then, is it...

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#6 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri May 11, 2007 9:29 am

Nothing wrote:
Roger_Thornhill wrote: but only if you can afford it
It's not one of the best then, is it...
Agreed. I'd rank Canada's ahead of the US...

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#7 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 11, 2007 9:43 am

I for one am ready for another three months of people who only know what their radio personalities tell them cluing me in to what a documentary is and is not.

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#8 Post by Antoine Doinel » Fri May 11, 2007 10:18 am

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:
Nothing wrote:
Roger_Thornhill wrote: but only if you can afford it
It's not one of the best then, is it...
Agreed. I'd rank Canada's ahead of the US...
Canada's system is very good, but is not without its own problems. Because of the high salaries available to doctors and nurses in the United States, we have shortages of staff here. There are waiting lists up to a year long for many serious procedures and emergency rooms are often overcrowded and understaffed.

That said, as a kid I was beset by some major health problems which ultimately required two open heart surgery procedures - one at age six and the other at age twelve. I can only say I'm grateful that health care is subsidized here because I have no idea what my parents - who had only been in Canada about six or seven years after immigrating from South America - would have done if they had to pay out of their pocket.

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#9 Post by David Ehrenstein » Fri May 11, 2007 12:39 pm

The Treasury Department investigation means the Weinstein Company doesn't have to spend a dime on publicity.

Great news for Moore.

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#10 Post by Roger_Thornhill » Fri May 11, 2007 1:00 pm

Nothing wrote:
Roger_Thornhill wrote: but only if you can afford it
It's not one of the best then, is it...
You misunderstood me, I probably didn't make it clear enough, my apologies. I was talking in terms of quality of care that can be offered and especially in diagnosing and treating rare conditions. Quite simply if I had been living in any other country I wouldn't be typing this now. There is nothing in the world like the Mayo Clinic, for example, which treats patients from all over the world. The US healthcare system itself is dysfunctional, which I wrote above and overall I'd place it near the bottom of the developed nations.

re: Canada - The biggest complaint I've heard is the long waits for specialists from my relatives who live there. Sometimes they even just come to the US to see a specialist right away and pay cash for the visit.

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#11 Post by ranaing83 » Fri May 11, 2007 3:30 pm

The early poster design is out and boy is it ugly. You've really gotta hand it to these photoshop wizards that the studio's have working for them.

Image

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#12 Post by The Invunche » Mon May 21, 2007 3:44 am

FOX News review

EDIT: it's quite positive.

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#13 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:52 am

Say what you will about Moore, but damn does he know how to garner press. Recently, he handed over $12 000 to Jim Kenefick, creator of anti-Moore site, Moorewatch.com to assist with treatment of his wife's neurological disorder.

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#14 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:08 am

I think Mark Kermode gave an excellent description of Moore's films on his podcast this week, when he talked about how Sicko was one of his better films but it was marred for him when Moore took a trip to Britain's magical NHS (which Kermode described as being as realistic as Narnia!):
It is a classic Michael Moore thing. He is very funny until he talks about something that you know about, anything at all, and you suddenly realise that he is really skimming the surface and it makes you wonder about everything else. But that said, the thesis of it is perfectly fine...
If you have any medical foul ups, Moore is asking you to send them to him at his You Tube group.

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#15 Post by anton » Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:30 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:Say what you will about Moore, but damn does he know how to garner press. Recently, he handed over $12 000 to Jim Kenefick, creator of anti-Moore site, Moorewatch.com to assist with treatment of his wife's neurological disorder.
indeed.. because not only the above, mr moore then took the unprecedent step of releasing his entire movie to the pirate scene, before it's even released anywhere else. now that is marketing at your best.

We who are about to die, salute you, Weinsteins.

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#16 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 16, 2007 2:31 am

colinr0380 wrote:I think Mark Kermode gave an excellent description of Moore's films on his podcast this week, when he talked about how Sicko was one of his better films but it was marred for him when Moore took a trip to Britain's magical NHS (which Kermode described as being as realistic as Narnia!):
My wife works for the NHS (at least for now: morale is such that she and most of her colleagues are actively considering their positions) - and so she's greatly looking forward to picking holes in Sicko.
Last edited by MichaelB on Sat Jun 16, 2007 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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david hare
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#17 Post by david hare » Sat Jun 16, 2007 4:20 am

M I feel for you and your wife. Im one of the last so called "Permanents" in the Family Court Structure in OZ and, but at 58 - like everywhere - they are simply beating down the Public Sector. Because they can ideologically for the popular (read "illterate") taste. . Whether it's their desire to close down FOI and Freedom of trasnfer for our so -called "Clients" - or something ultimately worse like the total Wealth Transfer of Public Facility in the - let's call them - "Old Countries "with a Brit style social/judicial/Parliamentary/ New Capitalism theme - is inescapable. None of us - like your wife or me - will have any jobs shortly. And it's basically FUCK the people who use the services.

I blame this entirely on Y-Gen-ers. Arseholes who dont give a fuck about human differences.

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#18 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 16, 2007 5:03 am

davidhare wrote:None of us - like your wife or me - will have any jobs shortly.
Well, she'll be fine - as a hugely experienced midwife-ultrasonographer (a surprisingly rare and hence extremely valuable combination), she'll never be unemployed. But it's only her fundamental belief in the core principles of the NHS that's keeping her from going private - there's no question she'd earn a lot more.

I, of course, will be completely unemployable, so if the crunch comes she'll just have to go private and support both of us!

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#19 Post by david hare » Sat Jun 16, 2007 5:32 am

Michael I already am unemployable. As a musician, or broadcaster or whatever.

We were just watching a program about the new China and the breaking story of Child slavery rackets. I just gasp (like Sonia Saviange, the pianist in Paso's Salo who ends up jumping out the window in pique.) The state of the world is too much for me to believe. Even now.

These sorts of thing are my deepest despair. And I worry that they will ever be fixed.

My husband and I keep saying to each other - "it really doesn't matter , we'll be dead before THAT happens." But it doesn't really help. And I don't believe THAT either.

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#20 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:55 am

davidhare wrote:Michael I already am unemployable.
Ditto! :? I sometimes find it very hard to reconcile the arts dealing with such complex themes from films that can inspire great empathy with the characters and their situations, or show images of great beauty, or tackle the state of the world and then having to return to a somewhat harsher reality where none of these lessons sadly seem to apply.

That sort of makes me more protective of the arts though as a form of escape - it certainly influences my world view whether through seeing a documentary like The Corporation classifying businesses as psychotics, or whether it is learning and understanding more about different cultures through their cinema (since I'm not going to be doing much travelling any time soon DVDs are my passport!).

What perhaps frightens me more is that, however powerfully the problems with the world are stated and restated in films such as Naked, Salo or films by Bruno Dumont or Michael Haneke, there is a big blank when it comes to trying to propose a solution or way of life beyond their dark visions (Gordon McMurphy brought up this point in a thread about Haneke last year). It may not be their intention to show a solution in their films but it is a little worrying when the artists of the world seem to be a little at a loss about where everything is going - perhaps because when you get to the stage that these films predict there is no going back and nothing to move forward to. That grinding inertia of no history and no future is perhaps the scariest thing in many of these new styles of apocalyptic film, where there is no atom bomb and aftermath to overcome, just a steady dehumanisation.

Strangely Will Self's question to Mike Leigh in 2000 about whether he would make a film about Blair's Britain in the future, and the fact that Leigh hasn't made that film says a lot about how Naked sadly still applies to the present day - and says a lot about the inertia in society that you just change Thatcher to Blair and that is all that is needed to modernise the film! It was fascinating to watch a recent episode of Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain series on the BBC which tackled Thatcher and see that all of her principles, including becoming a wartime leader, Blair has taken up! Love her or (especially!) hate her, at least Thatcher had a kind of plan in what she intended to do, mixed with a good portion of luck in being up against incompetent opponents whose actions only gave her the leverage to push her reforms further. Perhaps her most lasting legacy however was as an inspiration for the next generation of policitians, who might not have shared her views or attitudes but were very interested in her longevity and covetous of her position. Blair is the epitome of this in his creation of 'New Labour' to win over Conservative voters, while at the same time creating a kind of one party state, or at least a 'three parties fighting over the middle ground' state, where ideals and ideologies are changed at whim for maximum, but short term, gains and having a strong point of view about anything is a weakness rather than a strength because it means that people will know where you stand and might not agree! (Sadly we are now moving beyond even this 'shadow of Thatcher' Blair age into an age of policitians who are themselves inspired by Blair - a copy of a copy, personalities fading as control grows and the need to address the public on important issues also fades)

This would have been fine if it had just confined itself to the insular, backstabbing world of politics, but because politicians like to look as if they are 'doing something' they like to tinker with the infrastructure of the society. This usually takes the form of altruistic improvements of failing services - with Blair at the beginning it was "education, education, education" and the NHS - but usually ends up being about wrecking the already existing structure to put their own up in its place. However the new system never seems to work as well as the old one, even if the old one didn't work that well in the first place! It is the 'slash and burn' method of politics, so that all the achievements you make are totally those of your party and you as leader, but it often fails to recognise the huge upheavals it causes to society in having to accomodate these changes, along with all the people it disenfranchises along the way - and this is before you find out whether the changes were for the best or just imposed incompetently, blind to the obvious failures in the scheme.

Even if the changes in the NHS and education had been well thought out and well designed (which they weren't!), they would still be threatened by the next party that came to power completely reversing them! The best examples for this are the Millennium Dome and the 2012 Olympics. The Millenium Dome was commissioned by the Conservatives before they were thrown out of power in 1997, and dealt a major blow to Labour when they badly handled implementing it - a hot potato that ended up in Blair's hands! I can't help but feel the 2012 Olympics are the poisoned chalice being handed back to the Conservatives by Labour if they are thrown out of power before then. The use of major events as political warfare.

That is just a major example of what has been going on in most aspects of Britain. The Millennium Dome and the Olympics are so major and subject to so much scrutiny that their failings are more obvious. Something like the NHS doesn't have that much attention paid to it, and so politicians periodically throw money at it to show they are paying attention and grab the headlines, while at the same time paying no attention to where that money is going or what it is being used for. The same with education, public services etc. Then when things do not improve, the cash is cut off and major changes proposed to change things for the better. This leaves everything in a complete state of flux, not knowing what is going on from one moment to the next - not the best way to work! Somehow this has led to paying through taxes for a crippled NHS, and then paying again for a layer of private services over the top in order to get the best care and to get the best staff on better salaries which undermines everything still further. And this is under a Labour government!

While I'm completely against the Iraq War, sometimes I'm cyncially glad Blair got involved - at least while he was destroying that country, he wasn't as focused on destroying this one (we'd have probably gotten the ID card thing sooner if he wasn't so concerned about securing his international 'legacy')

Wow, that was quite a rant - the above was sponsored and paid for by the 'Grumpy Colinr0380 Against Selfish Society' party! :D
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Jun 16, 2007 12:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#21 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:58 am

colinr0380 wrote:Strangely Will Self's question to Mike Leigh in 2000 about whether he would make a film about Blair's Britain in the future, and the fact that Leigh hasn't made that film says a lot about how Naked sadly still applies to the present day - and says a lot about the inertia in society that you just change Thatcher to Blair and that is all that is needed to modernise the film!
Naked was made three years after Thatcher resigned.

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#22 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 12:00 pm

#-o That shows how much I remember John Major! I'm not sure Major did anything to change things during his tenure though!

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#23 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 16, 2007 12:05 pm

colinr0380 wrote:Something like the NHS doesn't have that much attention paid to it, and so politicians periodically throw money at it to show they are paying attention and grab the headlines, while at the same time paying no attention to where that money is going or what it is being used for.
Sorry, but I have to disagree with this. The state of the NHS has been one of the dominant stories in the British media over the last decade (far, far more prominent than the now-forgotten Millennium Dome or even the Olympics), and we all know exactly where the extra money went - for the most part into the pockets of GPs who were given overly easy targets to aim for because John Reid (the Health Secretary at the time) treated them overly leniently.

So GPs are massively overpaid and everyone else is massively underpaid (I'm really not exaggerating when I say my wife could earn a LOT more privately with her skills) - a simplistic reduction, obviously, but not a million miles from the truth.

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#24 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 12:35 pm

That's OK, I was on a rant there :D So the NHS is being run like any other company - big salaries for the bosses and little for the rest? Short termism as those in charge try to make as much money from their position as possible, and that is what they are focused on rather than their actual jobs?

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#25 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 16, 2007 12:55 pm

colinr0380 wrote:So the NHS is being run like any other company - big salaries for the bosses and little for the rest?
No - the situation is quite different. GPs aren't technically "bosses", or at least not in a managerial sense. What happened was that a formula devised by John Reid when he was Health Secretary inadvertently ended up setting productivity targets that were far too easy to meet - with the result that virtually all GPs qualified for substantial pay rises of anything up to 25%. Which meant that a huge chunk of Gordon Brown's cash injection ended up going straight into their pockets.

(There's some background here - there's almost certainly a better summary out there, but this was the first I found)

To his credit, Brown has recognised that something needs to be done urgently to redress the balance, but it's a political nightmare given that the most logical course of action would be to rein in GPs salaries to realistic levels!

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