Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Michael Moore lights up again

Watched Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 last night. Pretty good, though my attention wandered during the last half-hour. All the focus on the incendiary aspects of his movies means that his talent as a filmmaker is sometimes overlooked -- but he has a seriously good sense of timing and of how to deliver an effective knockout blow after a buildup.

Of course, Moore is also obnoxious to the point of being a comic figure, and the only thing that saves him here is that he isn’t as ridiculous or as loathable as his principal target -- Dubyaman Bush. (No one could be.) But in his last film, Bowling for Columbine, I hated the way Moore went for the softest, easiest targets and especially his heckling of the aged, Parkinson’s-stricken Charlton Heston (complete with the shamelessly, exploitatively sentimental shot where he holds up a photo of a young black schoolgirl killed in a shooting and taunts the pro-gun lobby Heston with it).

With Bush and his inner circle of thugs, Moore is on firmer ground. Because while they are soft targets too in a way, there’s little danger of anyone feeling sorry for them or disgusted by Moore’s potshots at them. So I didn’t mind even when Moore made cynical use of shots like the one where Bush practices facial expressions just before going live before a television camera (that’s the sort of thing any public figure, even Abe Lincoln, would have done, but Moore uses it to underline his Bush as Hypocrite stance).

Incidentally, Moore’s well-publicised statement that he wants Fahrenheit to get the same treatment as a regular feature film (including wider distribution and, perhaps, a best picture Oscar nomination instead of a best documentary one) has me contemplating that George W Bush is now possibly the greatest comic leading actor of all time. Don’t misunderestimate him.

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