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fahrenheit 9/11 (michael moore, 2004)

So I finally saw Fahrenheit 9/11. I think it's Moore's best film. Recently, a thread has grown around some complaints I have with Moore. In that thread, I make the following statement:

I wouldn't complain so much about him if 1) he wasn't such a shit to people who don't deserve it (I don't mind when he picks on the head of GM or Charlton Heston), and 2) if he didn't have the disturbing ability to insert himself into touching private moments that don't need Michael Moore's presence.
Happily, both of these tendencies are mostly absent from Fahrenheit 9/11.Republicans and Democrats take it on the chin, but the "average Americans" are offered up without condescension, a rarity in the past for Moore. (He does get a few cheap shots at small countries like Costa Rica and Iceland, though.)

As for my second point above, it might be useful to compare two scenes. In Bowling for Columbine, we get a scene where Moore comforts a woman on camera. The woman needs comforting; Moore is there; he comforts her. But there's something smarmy about the event ... it's not clear why we have to see Moore with his arm around the woman, except to point out that Michael Moore cares. In Fahrenheit 9/11, however, there are several emotional scenes, particularly those with the woman whose son was killed in Iraq. Moore remains mostly off-camera for those scenes ... he lets us see the woman's grief, it's powerful and important to what Moore is trying to say, but he leaves it be, he doesn't insert himself for no reason.

As usual, Spinsanity takes on Moore's cavalier attitude towards facts, and there's plenty to kvetch about, but even here, Moore is improving. As Spinsanity notes, the film "appears to be free of the silly and obvious errors that have plagued Moore's past work." They do go on to note that the movie "is filled with a series of deceptive half-truths and carefully phrased insinuations that Moore does not adequately back up," but to be honest, that doesn't bother me much ... I have no objection to Moore the rabblerouser, editing his footage for maximum impact, I just don't like it when he lies. And there would appear to be very few lies in Fahrenheit 9/11.

As I noted a few days ago, I've been reading a lot of student essays talking about Moore's use of "entertainment" to reach a wider audience. I'd have to say there's some irony in the fact that Fahrenheit 9/11 is Moore's most successful film at the box office, and also the least "entertaining." Perhaps Moore should have been trusting his audience all along to get his arguments, without the cheap stuff. Eight on a scale of ten.

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