The Toronto International Film Festival celebrated its 40th appearance this year. By no means North America’s oldest festival, TIFF is the biggest, bringing 399 programmes to an estimated audience of 500,000. Could the world ever produce that many great films in a single year? Guess not, but that’s never discouraged a dedicated Toronto public or the thousands of industry players and media who join them every September to make their city the teeming headquarters of the movie universe.
I tend to fossick around the margins of the programme, and the only World Premiere on my agenda was Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next. It turned out to be much more fun than seemed reasonable to expect. Though its title and sole promotional image imply a diatribe against US militarism, the film provides instead a ramble around some surviving — and apparently flourishing — bastions of welfare-state programs in Europe, Scandinavia and Tunisia.
Moore adopts the incredulous tone of a dyed-in-the-wool free marketer as he interrogates cops, teachers, prison inmates, school dieticians and other articulate proponents and beneficiaries of humane and effective education, employment, health care and criminal justice policies. As often with the crusading Moore, there are holes in some of his