With the second biggest opening for a documentary in movie history, Sicko will continue to cause unwellness in the health care industry. Moviegoers can find contradictory viewpoints to Michael Moore's theory of the greatness of the British and Canadian health care systems, though: Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasion gets in some firm critiquing of the Canadian system when it gets gouged by cutbacks. And Lindsay Anderson's broad satire Britannia Hospital shows an institution plagued Frankenstinean experiments, labor troubles and cannibalism. Since Moore's investigations of single-payer health care elsewhere included Norway (these scenes will probably be seen on the DVD), one could also toss in Lars Von Trier's ie Kingdom (aka Riget later remade by Stephen King) to show that there's something rotten in Scandinavian hospitals, or at least the ones built on hellmouths.

As for Romanian medicine, we've seen what happened to the unfortunate Mr. Lazarescu. At heart, Sicko is about cleaning up our own yard here in the US, not the problems of other countries. And as Moore has been saying, the evidence he presents isn't even news. Kvetching about hospitals goes back to the arch-kvetch Paddy Chayefsky in his 1971 The Hospital. Chayefsky's lines in Network were fresh enough for journalist Greg Palast to quote at length in his book Armed Madhouse...what might Chayefsky have to say about the health care mess that would still ring true 36 years later?

categories Features, Cinematical