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SiCKO, The "Illegal" Review

by Charles Harmison (writer), Kauai, Hawaii, June 22, 2007

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Love him or hate him, one cannot argue Michael Moore knows how to gain your attention. It is never over when this fat man sings.

In case you've been under mountain for the last week Moore has a new film coming out, June 29, called SiCKO. It would be pretty hard not to know this, however, given the buzz that is circling around it. Without spending a dime in advertising, news about this movie, thanks in large part to the publicity of the so-called "leak" of the film to the P2P pirate websites, has by now reached the ears and eyes of just about every red-blooded American with a computer, T.V., radio or friend. As word of mouth travels about this latest addition to the shockumentarian's repertoire, the praise only builds.

Before the film has even released, (legally), people will have heard about it moving adult men to tears; they will hear that Cuba treated, for no charge, three 9/11 rescue workers who couldn't afford their treatment here; and that the French government has a nanny service, also free of charge, for newborn mothers, not to mention that they seem to somehow manage to get paid for everything that prevents them from work that day; but mostly they will hear that the film is actually, really, REALLY, good. By the time the movie actually does come out on June 29, mark my words, a great many people will pay to see what everyone is talking about.

If you cannot already tell I have seen the leaked copy from an undisclosed party who downloaded the film. That's right, I said it, I have seen the illegal copy. I did not download it but I did see it and let's just leave it at that. I do not do this normally and I believe it won't cost Lionsgate anything different from my having seen it already. I have every intention of seeing it again and again when it comes out, not to mention buying the DVD to add to my library of the Moore films. I am especially excited to watch an audiences reaction to it. I am also quite certain many others who saw the leak will do exactly what I am doing.

Intentionally or not, Moore might have stumbled on to a new gold mine of free advertising, which allows the word of mouth endorsement of this film to carry it through the box office. It also makes him an unofficial hero of a new counter culture in this country due to the rumors that he himself leaked the film. Especially given his stance on piracy in the first place. This "leak" will only increase his popularity among many of those that make up his fans.

I don't think this was a mistake. Of course I cannot claim here that I have proof Moore leaked the film to the P2P networks, because that is not his official story. In a recent interview with MTV Moore quickly dismissed this idea, "Do they think I did it?" Michael Moore said, looking jokingly suspicious.
"Do they think the pharmaceutical companies did it so maybe they could destroy the box office for this movie? No! That wouldn't happen, would it? I have no idea what happened but generally most movies these days get out on the internet and, you know, I'm just happy that people get to see my movies. I'm not a big supporter of the copywrite laws in this country. I thought Napster was a good idea. You know when I was a kid there were vinyl record albums and then cassette tapes came along and people started making cassette tapes. And I remember one day somebody giving me a tape of an album called London Calling by a group called the Clash. And I thought, 'WOW!', . . . you know, this is really cool. Suddenly I became a Clash fan. From that point on I bought their albums and I went to their concerts and they ended up making money off of me because somebody gave me a free tape of their music.

Whatever the case, he more than likely will gain a lot more money from this film than he loses to the few hundred hardcore computer geeks that actually take hours downloading the film, only to watch it on their small computer screens with bad speakers. It's not as easy to pirate the film as you might think and most certainly the quality is nothing in comparison to the theater experience.

Before the movie 300 came out a similar "leak" occurred to Youtube and other video sites, of extended teaser scenes of the build-ups to the battles. There was about ten in all and at first they came anonymously or with fake names, but when fans quickly caught on that these teasers were too expertly done to be an actual leek and they nonetheless creamed themselves with each new scene. The scenes created such a fervor of praise and eager anticipation for cinema release that the filmmakers started to take credit for the "leaked" scenes because of how well they worked to bring in the word of mouth interest in their film.

Ok, so I lied this is not an actual review of SiCKO. Out of respect for the filmmakers and those of you who want to see it untarnished by some jerk giving it all away I will refrain here from doing so. Let me just say two small things to encourage everyone to see it for themselves.

First of all, this is by far Michael Moore's best film. He has mastered his craft in this one and those of you who might have been critical of some of his other movies may in fact find this one to be a whole different beast. Moore does a much better job in this movie of keeping himself less of a focus than he has in his past films. His narration is much less wet with sarcasm and in many cases you can hear that the emotion of the scenes has an honest effect on him.

Finally I just wanna say that I cried my eyes out while I watched this film. I have been the victim of the American health care industry almost as much as I was to the accident which broke my back in eleven places. The words the doctors used to comfort me were that I was fortunate that I was young when this happened that my body could take care of itself at my age. They said that I should just go home, remain in bed for 2 years, and hope for the best.

What they really meant was that it was unfortunate I didn't have insurance when the accident occurred because they would do nothing to help me unless I paid them the $80,000 for the necessary surgeries which stood a good chance of actually healing the problem. Instead, I got by without, and I will have extreme levels of pain for the rest of my life because the vertebrae didn't heal correctly.

At one point in the movie a British doctor told the cameras that he could not, in good conscience, work for a system that turned away people from treatment simply because they couldn't pay the doctors enough monies, that instead he would manage on the meager $200,000 a year he gets from his socialized government paycheck to heal any one who asks. No offense to the reader but I wonder how it is that thousands of health care workers in this country actually can work for such a system. Watch SiCKO and you might start to wonder that yourself.


About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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11 comments on SiCKO, The "Illegal" Review

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By crisdel on June 22, 2007 at 11:29 pm
Another nice article Charles. I can't wait to see the film. I have always been a big MM fan, and I'm glad to hear his style is evolving. So sorry to hear about your back injury. I hope you have as little pain as possible. I sustained severe multiple injuries in a car accident several years ago, back in England, and although one is never the same after something like that, the free national health service enabled me to focus on healing, instead of stressing out over how I would pay for it. I was in the hospital for eight weeks with broken hips, jaws, hands, spleen, and more, and received free outpatient care for months after that. Of course, that was a long time ago, and I'm not so sure that the British system is as good as it used to be because privatization has taken a toll on it. But, even so, you'll never be refused treatment for lack of funds or insurance, not even if you're a foriegner.
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By Steven Lane on June 23, 2007 at 12:25 am
My wife stepped off a curb wrong in London, she broke her foot. She was taken care of for weeks at no cost. At the same time, "private" doctors are available, I used one. I thought I was in a meeting with an attorney, you "pre-meet" him in his suit and tie, discuss your problem and then his secretary leads you to a room, where viola, the doctor reappears in whites. SO...........health care is truly there for the rich and not so rich. A great example of what we don't have here.
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By Geddy on June 23, 2007 at 11:11 am
Little long for my tastes (attention span and all) seemed more about pirating than the actual movie.
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By Jen on June 23, 2007 at 11:16 am
Interesting article Charles. I thought I was going to be getting a review of the film and its actually a discussion of copyright and piracy. Im just not sure what to think. Comment on piracy or healthcare? Maybe I'll just say...thanks for a good read.
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By D. E. Carson on June 23, 2007 at 06:51 pm
I wouldn't even bother to *STEAL* let alone pay to see anything by Michael "Adolf" Moore. But I had to read your commentary just the same. We still disagree on the benefits vs the detrements to socialized medicine. I'll call it a day.
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By Charles Harmison on June 23, 2007 at 07:54 pm
watch out for me i can be kinda sneaky sometimes. . . ;) thanks for the nice words everybody Jen- that second to last sentence was just for you by the way. I hope it didn't strain our friendship too much. I have to admit that since this accident i have not had a very strong feeling towards doctors. nurses are pretty cool though. . . ;)
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By Charles Harmison on June 23, 2007 at 07:59 pm
oh im sorry you're a biologist i don't know why i thought you were a nurse sorry bout that
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By Charles Harmison on June 23, 2007 at 10:58 pm
I have been informed Merijo is the nurse
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By Phoenix on June 26, 2007 at 04:54 am
I'm looking forward to seeing the film...legally, of course. I've been burned many times by our "healthcare" system and was appalled last month when a woman died in an ER waiting room here in LA, after being ignored by hospital staff. Kudos to Moore for shining a spotlight on such a dark spot in our country. Nice article.
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By Batman on June 28, 2007 at 01:53 pm
The fact that Michael Moore does care much for copywrite(sic) laws, which is the very foundation of the creative process AND intellectual property, tells me all I need to know about him.
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By Charles Harmison on June 29, 2007 at 12:44 pm
batman - did u mean to say "does NOT care much for copywrite(sic) laws" then that sentence might have made a little more sense. I don't know if i can agree that making money off of an artistic creation truly represents the foundation of the process itself. As an artist in pretty much every medium myself I can assure you that when i write a song or poem or script or act or sculpt or paint, I am not thinking about whether someone is going to pay for the product when i am making it. That usually comes later, though in the case of most of those mediums i don't ever see very much from making them and i can assure you that doesn't stop me from making more. In Jamaica for instance a country i have spent a lot of time in, they do not have any laws of the kind. You will hear the popular R&B or Hip Hop songs of the day remixed with new artists interpretations on the rhythms all the time. Sometimes 20 different versions of the same rhythm with all these different artists adding there own rhymes to it and DJ's cutting it up and mixing new stuff in. personally i think this only improves the songs. And if you ask a lot of music groups here in America they will tell you that they agree. Money isn't the only thing thats important to most artists. Granted its nice to be able to live off of your craft but suggesting that the intellectual ownership of art represents the foundation of its creation is a bit of a stretch.
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