More on Moore

The comments and discussions related to “Fahrenheit 9/11” are flying all over the place, and I had a few random thoughts I just thought I’d toss out there- and some of them may surprise you. Here we go:
– A few of you commented and e-mailed that I spent my entire review commenting on the political aspects of the film, while not concentrating enough on the film cinematically. I have no big complaints about it aesthetically, and it certainly dealt with subjects about which I care, so I wasn’t bored. But I found the factual distortions and moral vacuity so troublesome that I had trouble seeing past it. Just one man’s opinion, I suppose.
– Some have called “F-9/11” “anti-American.” While I would certainly ascribe that label to Moore himself- based on this David Brooks column, especially- I give Moore a pass in that regard in relation to ‘Fahrenheit,’ as he was pretty careful to confine his hatred to Bush, his cronies, and their corporate/Saudi allies. He also, as far as we know, didn’t stage any scenes this time. This is more than I can say for “Bowling For Columbine,” which concluded with the generally offensive notion that the problem with America is all those damn Americans.
However, I have more trouble forgiving Moore’s essential neutrality in regards to Bin Laden, Saddam, etc- a pretty indefensible position, if you ask me.
– That said, ‘Fahrenheit,’ for the most part, avoids some of the more loathsome tactics of the anti-War on Terror left. For instance, Moore doesn’t use words like “fascist” or “police state” or “Hitler.” In fact, I could actually picture a left-wing critique of “F 9/11,” accusing Moore of not being vigilant enough- by paying next to no attention to post-9/11 Muslim detainees, and by confining his anti-Patriot Act section to that story about the guy at the gym who was questioned and released by the FBI.
Sullivan, and others at TNR, have already written about the moral bankruptcy of the general center-left consensus on ‘Fahrenheit,’ i.e., “Moore may be full of shit on many things, but he’s right overall, so we’ll let it slide.” This is, oddly enough, the defense many center-righties have for Bush himself, but that’s not my point.
I had a discussion with Jeremy yesterday in which he compared Moore to a “liberal Rush Limbaugh.” I replied that yes, the comparison is valid, but comparing Moore to Limbaugh is no defense of the filmmaker- really, it’s more of an indictment. My problem is that Moore –by using facts selectively only when they stick up for his side- is basically a pundit, yet the reception to his films has elevated him, undeservedly, to something far above that. Because really, Moore deserves an Oscar and Palme d’Or about as much as Sean Hannity deserves a National Book Award.
And then there’s the whole “it’s not a documentary if it’s biased” argument, which I also don’t buy. I’m more partial to the “it’s not a documentary if facts are made up” line.
– Here’s a side-by-side comparison of various critics who praised ‘Fahrenheit’ to the skies but bashed “The Passion.” Of course, it includes just one line of each review, so we don’t always know the contexts. And besides, some critics (like Roger Ebert) loved both, while others (such as myself) hated both.
– Bush’s approval rating is down to an all-time low of 42 percent, just a few days after the release of a virulently anti-Bush movie. Moore’s influence is reaching uncharted territory- he may soon have to register as a 527. (And no, that’s not a crack about his weight).
– One other surprisingly nice thing I have to say about ‘Fahrenheit’: it wasn’t even the worst liberal-leaning political documentary I saw last weekend. That (dis)honor goes to Nickolas Perry and Harry Thomason’s Clinton apologia “The Hunting of the President”- and I even agreed with its assertions more than I did Moore’s.
THOTP is just about the most unsubtle documentary I’ve ever seen- utilizing the laughably awful device of repeatedly cutting to old stock footage, so that when an interviewee refers to Ken Starr’s “fishing expedition,” we’re treated to shots of a guy in a boat, fishing. Whenever Clinton’s womanizing is discussed, we get footage of Bettie Page-style ‘40s strippers. Just two hours of that sort of nonsense.
There’s nothing new in the movie that won’t be familiar to anyone who followed the news throughout the ‘90s, and ‘Hunting’ also makes extensive use of conservative-turned-liberal writer David Brock, making me realize that a documentary about Brock’s life would be about a thousand times more interesting than this one. Thumbs down.
– Anyway, enough about Mike. I’m about ready to go see “Spider-man,” how ’bout you?

4 thoughts on “More on Moore

  1. hah!

    Obviously you know nothing about filmmaking to say he doesn’t deserve an oscar or the cannes award. If someone else had decided to be the filmmaker for these films and Moore the subject, you would probably say they did a good job in showing how somewhat nuts he is. But because it is him it just goes to show your bias…hmmm..let’s think about that one.

    Reply
  2. red

    Anyone who thinks that documentaries aren’t supposed to be “biased” has obviously not seen too many documentaries.
    That’s such an incorrect assumption. I see tons of documentaries, and they all have a point of view.

    Reply
  3. Dave J

    Of course documentaries are usually biased, Sheila; however, the point is that while everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, no one’s entitled to their own facts.

    Reply

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