Sunday, October 04, 2009

'Capitalism' at the Tech Center

Living in and around the Denver Tech Center, even temporarily, is an interesting experience. On a Saturday night, it's a little weird.

For those unfamiliar, the Tech Center is a large complex of office buildings, southeast of downtown Denver along the Interstate 25 corridor. It houses among other things numerous media companies that call the Denver area home, and benefit from its location along the 105 Degree Meridian, which optimizes satellite transmission to many parts of the world.

The streets that traverse the Tech Center are largely unlit at night, owing perhaps to its mostly weekday, 9-to-5 population. Combined with the darkness of the streets and the surrounding buildings, driving through it is an eerie, dark experience for an area with so many people and activity around it. This is even true when there are significant numbers within the complex, enjoying a show at Fiddler's Green Amphitheater as was the case last night.

From South Quebec Street, the directional signs to the Village Shops at the Landmark are unlit and difficult to see; once in this large high-end residential and retail area, the subdued nature of it was still evident. Like Fiddler's Green, the complex feels out of place in the sterile environment of the glass box office towers, kind of like wildflowers sprouting between the cracks in a shopping mall parking lot. Among plenty of parked cars, mostly-shuttered retail shops and a few scattered bars and restaurants between two large high-rise condominium buildings, the only discernible noise was the constant drone of traffic on I-25.

I was there to see a movie at the Landmark Theatres complex there, specifically Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. This was a unique experience for me, beginning with the theatre itself; the movie cost $12, but all the popcorn and soft drinks you want are included. There is also a full bar that serves some unique appetizers if you are so inclined. I was reminded of the line in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta's character says that you can go to a movie in Amsterdam and buy a beer, "and I don't mean a cup, I mean a glass of beer".

For long-time readers here it should come as no surprise that I am a fan of Mr. Moore and his work. This latest film is more personal than his most recent movies, as he used many references to his own childhood in the Flint, Michigan area, and included his own father and several catholic priests of his acquaintance.

Some of his antics were overly simple and predictable, but in the end rather effective in delivering a message. He fires salvos at Democrats and Republicans alike, and speaks with the American equivalent of Tony Benn, the former British M.P. who made such a splash in Sicko.
And don't get me started on dead peasants...

The parts that I enjoyed the most were those that lent historical perspective to what has happened in recent months. Specifically, the Flint Sit-Down Strike, and the use of archival, previously unseen newsreel footage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt calling for a "Second Bill of Rights" after the end of World War II, which he did not live to see. My favorite part of the movie was a too-short homage to Dr. Jonas Salk. I'm wondering what Big Pharma was thinking back then...

If you have a vested interest in the financial forces that influence our government (and if you lost money as a result of the near-crash and bailout, you do), I would strongly recommend taking a couple of hours to see this. Many of you will no doubt disagree with some of Mr. Moore's conclusions and assertions, but he does put on a good show, and regardless of how you personally feel about Mr. Moore or his politics, you will come away with a better appreciation of the nature of the beast.

As with most of Mr. Moore's latest work, the enlightenment extends through the credits, so if you do go, stick around for them. His choice of music to run behind those credits is very interesting.

Time for bed.

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