“They promised me I would mellow as I got older, and it didn’t happen,” a graying Michael Moore bellowed before the New York premiere of his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, at Alice Tully Hall on Monday, Sept. 21. The screening, a pre–New York Film Festival event put on by Esquire and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, drew noted capitalists like chef Mario Batali and editor Tina Brown despite its radical premise: that capitalism is, in a word, evil.
“We’ve got an economic system that’s unjust, unfair and doesn’t work,” said Mr. Moore, 55.
The new movie isn’t particularly subtle—it plays Orff’s “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi” while showing graphs depicting Reaganomic skullduggery—but that’s nothing new for the lefty documentarian from Flint. Capitalism’s twist is Moore’s rosy Catholicism: the movie’s star witnesses are priests, who point out the un-Christian principles of capitalism.
Mr. Moore admitted after the screening that he once wanted to be a priest—but he lasted only a year in seminary. “I went when I was 14. When I was 15, things kicked in.”
So much for virtue and greater good: A party after the screening held at Esquire’s “Ultimate Bachelor Pad” in Soho celebrated the hedonistic glories of capitalism—chief among them poker, pool and tanned brunettes in a hot tub. (“He knows where his bread is buttered,” one journalist from the magazine reassured another about the setting’s incongruity.) Each of the apartment’s rooms, curated by a different interior designer, showcased decadent masculinity. Flat-screen TVs played Casino Royale; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Heineken ads. Every ball hit on the pool table left in its wake a shimmering mirage of scantily clad female, courtesy of a motion-sensing projector.
“We don’t see much of this in Toledo,” said Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio.
On a quiet stretch of the apartment’s wraparound balcony, Randy Hacker of Peoria, Ill., sat alone, tapping on a cell phone. Mr. Hacker, 16, and his family were evicted from their rural home, and Capitalism uses their story to illustrate the brutal effects of the mortgage crisis on ordinary people.
Mr. Hacker appeared unimpressed by the splendors of the Ultimate Bachelor Pad. “It’s unique,” he said. Had he seen the hot tub? “I expected there would be something like that here. I think those girls are a little out of my league.
“We’ve been everywhere,” he added wearily of his family’s two-day visit to New York. “Get on this ferry, take this bus. Now I’m at this party and I don’t know anyone.”