May 28, 2007

"Sicko" to make Americans sick

The Cannes jury chose a Romanian film, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" from director Cristian Mungiu as the top film of the festival this year. It's sure to be released in the United States thanks to the Palm D'Or, but who knows if anyone will jump to see it.

On the other hand, several American films premiering at the Festival de Cannes are sure to be blockbusters, with "Oceans 13" the obvious choice for American moviegoers -- Al Pacino adding to a cast already favored among girls and women alike. Thankfully, 13- to 35-year-old males have "Transformers" and "The Simpsons" to look out for.

Now to the indie-art house films that are sure to bring tears and a profound worldview to American audiences...


First off, there's "Sicko," the project Michael Moore began just after "Fahrenheit 9/11." The film explores America's failing HMO system, and in typical Moore fashion, it follows lovable, patriotic Midwesterners through the process of denied health insurance claims.

Over the last several years, Moore's team documented tragic stories of death, sickness and financial ruin all thanks to the callous M.D. administrators running the country's multi-trillion dollar health insurance industry. In contrast, the second half of the film explores the universal health care systems of countries such as England, France and Canada. The real kicker comes when he escorts a group of 9/11 volunteers, invalid with respiratory problems and without insurance, past the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and into Cuba where smiling doctors provide care and medication for mere pennies.

Of course, Moore paints far to rosy a picture of these health care systems to cement his argument. The British will be the first to tell you that their experiences and Moore's conjecture don't exactly line up. Also, the Cuban doctors were way too nice -- it was almost as if the minister of health was looking over their shoulders.

Despite the criticism, which Moore has seen a fair share of on previous films, the movie has a good shot at winning over American moviegoers in both red and blue states. I mean, who doesn't have a HMO horror story that they're at least connected to on a secondary level. There's always the single mother who lost her job in retail after the chemotherapy left her wasted and frail. And, don't forget the independent carpenter who lost his fingers and his livelihood as well.

Oh, and Hillary Clinton, you might want to start the P.R. machine now. This film brings back some ugly memories -- and you thought Moore was a democrat.


So, I unfortunately didn't get to see the next few films, the screenings can be pretty exclusive, but you can't help but pay attention to the buzz, so keep an eye out.

"No Country For Old Men," by Joel and Ethan Coen is a deconstructed crime drama that follows a man who happens upon a stash of heroin, $2 million and a bunch of dead thugs. A homicidal maniac follows him through the desert in search of his goods with plenty of violence and some typical Coen brothers dialogue.


For any former skate rat, this beautifully filmed feature by Gus Van Sant is a must see. It's about a skateboarder who kills, of course, a security guard. The movie is supposed to tap into the psyche of a generation without any real identity, but we'll see about that when it comes out. Everybody keeps talking about the cinematography.


In keeping with rebellious cinema, keep an eye out for "Persepolis," a French-Iranian animated film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. The feature follows a girl who grows up in Tehran and dreams of becoming a revolutionary. Sent to Austria for safety, the girl soon learns what repression is all about.


Mimi said...

Can't wait to check out these movies...especially no country for old men. My brief encounter with Javier Bardem was not the best, as he was kind of in a pissy mood when I met him, but he sure is an amazing actor and his role in the movie sounds fascinating. BB: I also saw "A Mighty Heart" on its red carpet world premiere, attended by both Angelina Jolie (lead actress), Brad Pitt (producer) and most importantly by Marianne and Adam Pearl, of whom the story is about. It was quite a powerful movie and I can't wait to see it again - with you.

Jeffrey Dach MD said...

What is the real solution, if Michael Moore’s government sponsored universal health care is not the answer?

The crux of the "SICKO" documentary is the disconnect between our expectations and the reality of health care. We are expecting compassionate care from another human being, and instead we get a faceless corporation. The person behind the desk or window is an agent of a health care corporation, which is not a human being, whose primary goal is to increase corporate profit.

This is America, and corporate profit is good, the profit motive forming the basis America’s greatness. The basic problem is that a corporation is not a human being. Therein lies the fallacy of replacing a corporation with a government agency, neither of which is a human being, when what we really want is a human being to deliver compassionate health care, and assist in serious health care decisions.

Review of "SICKO", by Jeffrey Dach MD

Jeffrey Dach MD