|Political Forum Archive An archive for all Political Forum posts older than 120 days|
|05-18-2004, 01:24 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2003
I actually enjoyed Roger and Me, and also own The Awful Truth on DVD, but fatso has turned into a caricature.
NEW '9/11' FLICK HAS FAR 'MOORE' FIZZLE THAN SIZZLE
By LOU LUMENICK
Post film critic Lou Lumenick says filmmaker Michael Moore falls short of the earth-shattering revelations he promised in his documentary.
May 18, 2004 -- CANNES, France - President Bush need not lose any sleep over Michael Moore's much-hyped "Fahrenheit 9/11," which turns out to be a wet firecracker.
Moore's virulent feature-length attack on Bush, which premiered yesterday to a 20-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, falls far short of delivering on the filmmaker's extravagant promises of election-swinging revelations.
"You will see things you haven't seen before and learn things you have not learned before," he vowed on Sunday.
Well, maybe if you spent the last three years hiding in a cave in Afghanistan.
Sure, there's some media-grabbing footage - apparently shot by one of the camera crews Moore claims to have smuggled in with embedded troops - of American soldiers laughing as they place hoods over Iraqi prisoners, and one GI touching a detainee's genitals through a blanket.
But that footage actually conflicts with one of Moore's main arguments - that GIs have been victimized by being forced to participate in what he considers to be the unnecessary and immoral invasion of Iraq.
Moore's big stop-the-presses revelation is that the name of an old pal of the president who works for the bin Laden family was excised from 1972 National Guard records released by the White House in 2002. Yawn.
Mostly Moore dusts off a litany of old accusations against the president - whom he portrays as both a buffoon and a world-class conspirator - and lands few solid blows as he takes on targets like the Patriot Act and supposed war profiteering by the politically connected Halliburton Corp.
The sheer scope of the material he's trying to cover in a two-hour documentary - the Sept. 11 attacks rate maybe five minutes - leads to incredibly superficial and misleading treatment at times.
As a critic who awarded Moore's Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine" four stars, I was particularly disappointed with "Fahrenheit 9/11."
In "Columbine," Moore had something new to say about the gun-control debate and did so in a refreshingly entertaining manner.
"9/11" does not lend itself to such a glib approach, and while Moore may get laughs by presenting Bush and his staff in a brief "Bonanza" spoof titled "Afghanistan," the humor often seems much more forced here.
By far the best sequence features Lila Lipscomb, a woman from Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., who lost her Marine son in Vietnam.
But when she tries to go to the White House to express her antiwar feelings, Moore ends up delivering a pallid echo of the high point of "Columbine," where victims of that high school massacre descend on Kmart headquarters to demand that the chain stop selling ammunition.
Far from the political hot potato Moore has been tub-thumping to secure a rich U.S. distribution deal and the July opening he lusts after - after Miramax was forced to sell it at the insistence of its corporate parent, Disney - "Fahrenheit 9/11" is more like a lot of hot air.
|05-18-2004, 03:47 PM||#2|
Join Date: Apr 2003
Film review: Fahrenheit 9/11
CANNES (Hollywood Reporter) - In "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore drops any pretense that he is a documentarian to pull together from many sources an Angry polemic against the president, the Bush family and the administration's foreign policy.
Where "Roger & Me" and "Bowling for Columbine" were personal quests for truth, looking at a subject from different angles and talking to people polls apart in their points of view, Moore stays "on message" here from first shot to last. There is no debate, no analysis of facts or search for historical context. Moore simply wants to blame one man and his family for the situation in Iraq the United States now finds itself in.
The film arrives, of course, amid recent revelations of Bush insiders Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill, the turmoil over the 9/11 commission and the growing sense that the Iraq problem is not going away anytime soon. And the very public dust-up between Moore and the Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner, which has left Moore momentarily without a distributor, certainly raises the film's profile even further. So the film should reach a large enough audience; the question is: Will Moore be preaching to the choir?
Charting the American political scene during the past 3-1/2 years, Moore is forced to rely mostly on other people's material. The assertion that America's Saudi policy has been determined largely by financial ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royals -- including another Saudi clan, the bin Ladens -- comes largely from "House of Bush, House of Saud," by Craig Unger, whom he interviews.
The Bush White House's obsession with Iraq in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 despite overwhelming evidence that al-Qaida was behind the attacks comes from former counterterrorism czar Clarke in his book "Against All Enemies." Most of the film's interviews come from TV network news shows or CNN's Larry King.
The movie begins with the contested 2000 presidential election. Moore takes the usual anti-Bush view that the election was stolen. Moore then characterizes Bush as a country bumpkin in the initial months of his presidency, spending 42% of his time on vacation and falling rapidly in public opinion polls.
Then comes 9/11. Moore touchingly conveys this day of infamy with a montage of sounds and visuals that refrains from showing images of airplanes hitting buildings or the World Trade Center collapsing. Instead, we get noise of horror over a blank screen, then shots of crying, horrified people staring into a sky filling with smoke and debris.
Moore recounts the Afghanistan invasion, the "botched" search for Osama bin Laden and the administration's alleged fear-mongering through constantly upgraded, color-coded levels of the terrorist threat issued by the Homeland Security Department, all designed to make the public more willing to back the invasion of Iraq.
Even if one agrees with all of Moore's arguments, the film reduces decades of American foreign-policy failures to a black-and-white cartoon that lays the blame on one family. He ignores facts like the policy to arm and support Afghan rebels that began in the Carter administration. For that matter, the Clinton team never mounted a serious effort to go after al-Qaida even after the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.
The Iraq violence is more gruesome than what normally appears on American TV. One particular sequence follows an American patrol on Christmas Eve, but Moore never identifies who shot the footage. Because Moore is very good at jumping in front of a camera when he is around, one can only assume he shot none of the Iraq footage. But his editing is designed to emphasize Iraqi suffering and U.S. military personnel indifference or even hostility.
The movie contains only one episode of Moore's patented "ambushes" of the famous. He collars congressmen leaving Capitol Hill and tries to persuade them to enlist their children to fight in Iraq. Not surprisingly, he has no takers.
When the movie devolves into problems of veteran benefits, harassment of peace groups or the grief of one family over a killed son, Moore simply loses his focus. These are worthy topics but have nothing to do with why the United States is in Iraq.
What Moore seems to be pioneering here is a reality film as an election-year device. The facts and arguments are no different than those one can glean from political commentary or recently published books on these subjects. Only the impact of film may prove greater than the printed word. So the real question is not how good a film is "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- it is undoubtedly Moore's weakest -- but will a film help to get a president fired?
|05-18-2004, 04:17 PM||#4|
Join Date: Jun 2003
I'm kinda glad its getting poor reviews & I hope it goes nowhere & costs him dearly financially. I didn't vote for bush nor do I support this war in Iraq. I enjoy reading quite a bit of the Bushbashing on this board.
Moore seems to have made it his mission in life now to slam this administration as publicly as he possibly can, which I don't think is in anyones best interest really, except for his own financial gain, so hopefully this most recent attempt will backfire.
regardless of who gets elected this nov. I don't thinks its healthy when extremists ,right or left do nothing but bash every move.
|05-18-2004, 07:34 PM||#5|
Join Date: Apr 2003
That's too bad, I actually enjoyed Roger and Me and Bowling For Columbine. Actually made me look at things from another point of view which some people refuse to do.
|05-19-2004, 12:51 PM||#6|
Hall Of Fame
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Washington, D.C.
May 18th, 2004 3:28 pm
The Los Angeles Times: "An Alternate History of the Last Four Years"
Substance Over Style
By Kenneth Turan / Los Angeles Times
CANNES, France -- "What if," wonders Michael Moore, just asking, "George Bush filed a Writers Guild grievance against my film? Because the funniest lines in it are his, not mine."
Never mind Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks, Cameron Diaz and Angelina Jolie, this almost willfully unglamorous man in jeans, sandals, pullover shirt and "Made in Canada" baseball cap is the center of the Festival de Cannes' biggest media storm. Variety cheekily calls him "Fest's Fave Pest," while a French film magazine more grandly insists he's one man "Contre L'Empire," against the American empire.
"It's a product of the times we live in, not me," Moore says, thinking about it. "With what's going on in the world, in the States, this becomes a focal point because I'm willing to put my toe in the water and make a movie about something."
That movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which had an unprecedented five same-day screenings on Monday, four of them for the press, became a cause celebre even before it got here when Disney Co. refused to allow Harvey Weinstein and his Miramax division to distribute it because of the film's partisan political nature. That led, among other things, to a political cartoon with a "Snow White and the Six Dwarfs" marquee and a man saying, "Sneezy's a Bush Critic, So Disney Dumped Him."
Always one to relish moments like that, a buoyant Weinstein showed up at the end of "Fahrenheit's" first press screening, insisting he was there "for reactions" and not to answer questions about the film's still undecided distribution future. "Have I ever let you down?" he answered when a plaintive European television journalist asked if America would get to see the film. Clearly enjoying the brouhaha, Weinstein sighed an ironic sigh and said, to no one in particular, "All those reports about me losing my edge are so true."
Though it's been characterized in press reports as an examination of the Bush family's relationship to Saudi Arabia, the impressive "Fahrenheit 9/11" turns out to be both more ambitious and more complex.
What Moore has in effect given us is an alternate history of the last four years on the U.S. political scene "as if [counterculture historian] Howard Zinn had a movie camera," he says, that covers the disputed 2000 election, the Patriot Act and the preamble to and aftermath of the Iraqi invasion, as well as that Bush-Saudi connection.
The film is also, not unexpectedly, an unapologetic and incendiary indictment of the current administration's policies and their implications.
But that fury is leavened by surprisingly emotional sequences, excellent use of previously unseen footage and Moore's trademark impish sense of humor, his sharp eye for both what he can make fun of and what makes fun of itself.
That category includes U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft singing "Let the Eagle Soar," a song of his own composing, unedited clips of the president that the networks have never shown us, as well as candidate Bush meeting Moore on the campaign trail and saying, "Behave yourself, will you? Go find real work." But the film also includes video footage of soldiers in the field abusing Iraqi prisoners -- some laugh as they grab a prisoner's genitals through a blanket -- as well as interviews with discontented GIs captured by Moore cameramen embedded with U.S. troops under non-Michael Moore pretenses.
What is perhaps most surprising in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is Moore's decision to make himself less visible as an on-camera presence, in part because the filmmaker says he "has not been able to come to grips with my own recovery from Sept. 11."
"I'm someone who lives in New York, who was supposed to fly that day, who lost a friend on the Boston flight, who watched the World Trade Center being built from my aunt's porch on Staten Island," he says. "I just couldn't come to grips with my own sadness, I just wasn't there yet. I felt that the issues that sprung from Sept. 11 deserved to be much more front and center."
Besides, Moore says, "I don't personally like to be on camera, I don't like looking at myself on screen. There's always been a sign in my editing rooms that says 'When in doubt, cut me out.' I've found that a little bit of me goes a long way."
For all the confidence of his films and his politics, Moore can sound uncertain and ambivalent about his personal appearances. This is how he describes what went through his head the night he won his Oscar for "Bowling for Columbine" and made a famously political speech from the podium.
"Do you think I wanted to give that speech at the Oscars?" he says, warming to the subject. "That was my night; I'd accomplished something. Was I going to give up my moment for the greater good, hokey as that sounds?
"Climbing the stairs, I was like Gollum in 'Lord of the Rings' with two voices in my head. Just blow them a kiss. No, you have work to do. You don't have to say anything, just thank your agent. Shut up, there's a war going on; you have to say something."
Hearing Moore's passionate rendition of the two Gollum voices, one stern, the other flighty, is a reminder of how funny he is in person, and the filmmaker doesn't want that forgotten as far as his film is concerned. "I believe in healthy doses of humor, if we sink into despair about what we're going through we won't survive," he says. "You want to do something that's fresh, something that's original, not the same old, same old. I always start with the attitude, 'What would be cool to see?' If I put the message first, I believe no one will go. I say that so much it sounds like my mantra, but it's what I believe in my bones."
Moore acknowledges, however, "it was more of a challenge to bring humor to the film without me being the poker. But I felt I could do that in other ways, with footage, voice-over and cutting. No one's going to mistake this for anything other than my film."
Still, Moore is not always buoyant himself, especially when it comes to the prospects of his film with different distribution this late in the game.
"Everyone's saying, 'This is great publicity for the film: You're really going to sell some tickets,' but if you've seen the box office receipts for 'Kids' and 'Dogma' that's not backed up by the facts. Name me one film that's gone on to huge box office success after their distributor said no eight weeks before the opening. Still, it's 'Oh, Michael Moore and Harvey are doing some publicity stunt.' Man, dig a little deeper than that."
One of the ironies of Michael Moore's position, not lost on the man himself, is that though he's one of the nation's preeminent left-wing voices, his personality has earned him as much criticism, if not more, from liberals than conservatives.
"My way of looking at the world comes from a Midwestern populism and a working-class sensibility, and that's always felt uncomfortable to otherwise good liberals who think, 'I wish we had someone more cultured. Why him?' " Moore says about the issue. "What is their problem? Why do they always want to be on the losing end of things? I'm trying to bring the vast majority of Americans along with me.
"People like me have to save liberals from themselves. This is not a job I went looking for; it wasn't in the career guidance I received in high school. I may come off as abrasive, but what am I supposed to do, wait around for the next Tom Daschle to lead us?"
Moore pauses and his eye falls on a magazine with his picture on the cover. "Really, how sad is it that it's left up to this guy with a high school education," he says. "Let this guy go back to Flint and everyone else start doing their job."
|05-19-2004, 12:55 PM||#7|
Hall Of Fame
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Washington, D.C.
May 18th, 2004 2:54 pm
Washington Post: Fahrenheit 9/11 Slices and Dices Bush's Presidency into 1,000 Satirical Pieces
'Fahrenheit 9/11': Connecting With a Hard Left
By Desson Thomson / Washington Post
CANNES, France -- "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore's most powerful film since "Roger & Me," slices and dices President Bush's presidency into a thousand satirical pieces. It's a wonder the chief executive -- at least, the one portrayed in this movie -- doesn't scatter to the four winds like Texas dust.
Judging by the spirited pandemonium that has greeted this documentary at the Cannes Film Festival, "Fahrenheit 9/11" not only is the film to beat in the competition for the Golden Palm, it also has the makings of a cultural juggernaut -- a film for these troubling times.
With an ironic narrative that takes us from the Florida debacle that decided the 2000 presidential election to the current conflict in Iraq, Moore has almost endless fun at the president's expense. And he frequently uses the president as his own tragicomic scourge -- in other words, hanging him with his own words and facial expressions.
In one of the film's most dramatic moments, we watch the president attending an elementary school class on that ill-fated morning of Sept. 11. An aide whispers to him news of the plane crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The look on Bush's face is stunned, as any person's would be. A clock ticks away. The president looks as though he'll never get up from that seat. The minutes tick by.
"Was he wondering if he should have shown up to work more often?" Moore says in voice-over, this comment connecting with glimpses earlier in the movie of Bush's frequent stays in Texas to clear brush and play golf. The president stares at the children's book he's holding. It's called "My Pet Goat."
But there's more to "Fahrenheit 9/11" than partisan ridicule. Just before that scene, we have confronted the unspeakable: When those two planes hit the twin towers in Manhattan. Moore shows only a black screen. We hear the buzzing of the aircraft. We know what's coming. We hear the impact and, a second later, the agonized cries and gasps of the witnesses.
Then comes the second crash. Only then does Moore cut to the faces of those watching. A tearful woman cries out to God to save the souls of those leaping from the windows. Another, devastated, sits down on the sidewalk. We don't see the jumpers. But we feel we do.
What's remarkable here isn't Moore's political animosity or ticklish wit. It's the well-argued, heartfelt power of his persuasion. Even though there are many things here that we have already learned, Moore puts it all together. It's a look back that feels like a new gaze forward. The movie points to social and financial connections between the Bush family and wealthy Saudis, including the royal family, Prince Bandar (the Saudi ambassador to Washington) and the bin Laden family.
It shows startling footage taken by camera crews who were embedded with the American forces in Iraq. And it spends time with such people as Lila Lipscomb, a Michigan mother who changes from patriotic support for the Bush administration to heartbroken despair after she loses a son to the war.
There are so many powerful moments to point to, all for different reasons: the visceral terror of a household in Baghdad, as young American soldiers break in to arrest someone; the candid testimony of American soldiers who express their disgust at the situation there; interviews in Michigan with impoverished African Americans, a social group that has been a breadbasket for U.S. Army recruitment.
To watch this movie yourself is to realize with dawning appreciation that the director of "Bowling for Columbine" has finally learned to put his movie where his mouth is.