Sunday, June 27, 2004

Review of Fahrenheit 911: Less is Moore

On Friday, everyone at work was abuzz talking about Michael Moore's new docu-tirade about Bush, and how it was sold out everywhere. This turned out not to be true; one could catch it at the convenient times of 12:20 and 12:55 AM, depending on which end of L.A. you lived.

When my shift ended at 10 PM, I decided "why not?" and drove to Universal Citywalk to catch the 12:20 one. After wandering through the kitzchy adult-playland, surrounded by a mostly Hispanic, high school/college crowd, I noticed a line forming in front of the cinema. Hmm. Was that for Fahrenheit 911? Naaaa, I thought incorrectly. That must be for White Chicks. So I rummaged through the toy shops and retro-videogame shirt places to pass the time. Came back. Sure enough, the lady at the front said "Sorry, have to wait in line for Celsius 911." Wow, these youngsters were interested in a politically-charged, anti-Bush movie?? Amazing!

Whether or not you like Michael Moore, this movie does make a sound case against Bush and our administration. Where the movie works best are these factual nuggets of information that the media has largely ignored, starting with the questionable election results in Florida, to John Ashcroft's & Bush's flagrant disregard of rather specific pre-9/11 warnings, to the conflict of interest of Bush family's business relationships with Saudi Arabia & the Taliban, and onward to the tactful switchover of attention from Afghanistan (where the Bush family was building an oil pipeline), to Iraq.

Unfortunately, the film is inconsistent and unfocused towards the end. For me, the emotional portions pull heart-strings, but of course they do. What point is Moore trying to make? An otherwise Patriotic and pro-Bush woman learns her soldier son has been killed in Iraq. Soldiers getting injured from rebel bombs, American contractors getting burned to a crisp by militants, Iraqi mothers crying over their innocent children killed from our bombs -- it's hard not to react. War is Hell. I would have liked to have seen more evidence of the Administration's outright neglect though of our troops, its lack of planning, its awful behavior, because that to me is the core of what Moore is saying. I felt the first hour or so of the movie was the strongest, when we watch less of Moore and see footage of Bush, the Senate, the administration. This all speaks for itself. Moore's trademark antics were not that effective this time around, when he tried to read the Patriot Act (none of its contents can be heard) and get Senator's to encourage their children to enlist. The entire segment about recruitment is interesting, but drafting poor people to fight wars (justified or not) is an Age Old situation, not unique to this Administration.

At the very least, Fahrenheit 911 will galvanize those opposed to Bush, the Administration, and the Iraq War. This movie makes it more challenging to believe that those in power of the so-called "World's Greatest Democracy" are looking out for the People, and not behaving like a corrupt group of self-serving rich folks. Those who believe that Michael Moore is lying -- that the Iraq War is really about saving Iraqis from a dictator who had weapons of mass destruction, that Bush is a strong, intelligent president intent on helping the average person, and that his Administration has a wise plan of action to rid the world of Terrorists without violating the Geneva Convention or the Constitution in the process -- will they watch this movie? Will they change their minds because of it? That remains to be seen.

But I'm more determined than ever to vote this November.

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posted by Brian at 12:32 PM

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