I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. But it was on Saturday, rather than on opening Friday night, like I said before. That's because all shows were sold out. As far as I know, the single theatre in Nashville that is showing Michael Moore's new documentary was sold out through the middle of the week. It was on two screens and was filled up at every show time.
I fandangoed some tickets on Friday night for a matinee the next day. We had to wait in the enormous around-the-building line, which was horribly inconvenient despite a $1 convenience fee. There was no kiosk so we had to get our pre-bought tickets from the overwhelmed ticket teens at the gates. By the time we made it into theatre 15 the only seats available in pairs were on the second row. I accepted my future headache as taking one for the cause and settled in.
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All of what I just told you has made it very difficult for me to critique in writing a movie like "Fahrenheit 9/11." How do you give a movie with so this much hype a fair review? Should you even try? Should you attempt to critique the film based only on its elements, trying to leave out all the talk about death threats and egotism and lies masquerading as truth? Is a film review richer and more esteemed becuse it considers as many internal and external facets of a film as possible? Reviews that take into account all aspects of a film turn into tomes that are unpublishable in conventional mediums for film criticism. Whether you are writing a 7" column in a daily or churning out a 8,000 word yawner for Film Comment you have to eliminate, unfairly, a lot of information and consideration.
So, with this film, where does one begin to start?
I guess I'll start with the fact that despite everyone's insistence that I do so, I'd never before seen a Michael Moore film. I'd heard he was a big, fat liar and, conversely, that he was a brave revolutionary. I think I decided he was a provocateur that I knew little about. Then I read about the standing ovation at Cannes and how it snagged the Palme d'Or. So, now that I live 7 minutes from the only theatre showing it, rather than 37, I went.
But dammit, if I can't write a coherent review of what I saw. It's the strangest thing. Moore's film made me cry three times. So much of it is moving and powerful and so incredibly tragic. Extended footage of wailing mothers who've lost children, both American and Iraqi, segued into silly, voiced-over images of Bush & Co. as the cast of "Bonanza." It is an information packed, emotional rollercoaster, that jerks the viewer from disgust to outrage to disheartened to laughter and back. The film is not especially consistent in tone, which made the manipulation of such a movie all the more evident. I found Moore's outright mocking of Bush's accent a severe error in judgement. This President and his administration have propogated enough atrocities and barbarous acts to warrant 100 of these movies, so why Moore spent time making fun of the President's drawl is beyond me. But it's disappointing.
I was impressed by how much I didn't know before watching Fahrenheit 9/11, though. I read the news just about every day, and while not a total news junkie, I consider myself relatively informed. And there were so many things I hadn't realized until this documentary poitned glaring at them. I wasn't aware of the extent of the Saudi ties to W. and his dad, and I certainly missed the story about dozens of planes being summoned when ALL THE AIRPORTS IN THE COUNTRY WERE CLOSED to carry the bin Ladens out of the country.
Granted, I take every fact from the this film with an enormous grain of salt. I don't consider this film as a source of news. It wasn't intended as such. Moore admits it is an unfair and unbalanced piece of work meant to unseat one of the worst Presidents ever to take office. He doesn't have to play fair, since one of the overriding themes of his picture is that this administration has an above the law mentality, a money-hording at the sake of innocent lives agenda and doesn't bother to hide that fact. It didn't take Moore years of researching and digging to find the footage and "facts" that he did. They were all right there for that taking, it's just our so-called independent press in this country does not report it. The evil of this administration lurks behind the thinnest excuses and fakest smiles.
I think judging a film based on it's intent is fair. And since Moore's intent is to make Bush a one-term president, I hope he succeeds in his intent. Time will tell that.
It will be at that time I give Moore my standing ovation.