Thursday, September 20, 2018

Movie with Abe: Fahrenheit 11/9

Fahrenheit 11/9
Directed by Michael Moore
Released September 21, 2018

Fourteen years ago, fresh off an Oscar win for “Bowling for Columbine” that he used as a platform to decry then-President George W. Bush and the War on Terror, veteran documentarian Michael Moore released “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a cleverly-titled look at what led to the war in Iraq that was meant to have obvious parallels to the classic novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The film was expectedly met with considerable negativity by those who didn’t agree with Moore’s worldview and his assessment of the situation, as well as his attempts to link the Bush family to Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist groups. If Bush was an unpopular figure with some, it’s no surprise that our current president, Donald Trump, is the latest target of Moore’s incisive and highly unique investigative journalism.

The title was just too good not to use, flipping the date in his 2004 film to represent the first day after Trump surprised with his victory to win the office of the president. A few films, including the excellent “Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time,” have already tackled the factors that led to his ousting of over a dozen Republican challengers and his shocking defeat of the Democrat most polls had easily beating him. Moore dives much further into it, placing blame on the Democratic establishment and tying in the Flint water crisis and Parkland anti-gun activism into what he sees as a decaying state that can only be helped by the election of those willing to think outside the box and challenge the status quo.

Where Moore has always been most effective is in his ability to push boundaries and to incorporate the way others perceive him into his projects. Steve Bannon offers perhaps the best quote of the entire film, noting that, while he definitely doesn’t agree with Trump’s politics, he is a great filmmaker. Moore shows Jared Kushner as an eager producer of his 2007 documentary about health care, “Sicko,” and even includes footage of his own conversation with Trump moderated by none other than Roseanne Barr. The funniest moment of a film that includes more than a few laws finds Trump walking into the office of Michigan Governor Ricky Snyder with a pair of handcuffs, intent on making a citizen’s arrest since no one else will prosecute the crimes he documents having been perpetrated by the former businessman who Moore argues bears more than a passing similarity to Trump.

As usual, Moore travels down a few avenues that seem, at best, tenuously connected to his primary argument. At times, it feels like this is just an advertisement for Democratic Socialist candidates, with considerable time spent on how states like West Virginia voted heavily for Bernie Sanders only to see their delegates go to Hillary Clinton. His spotlight of one passionate West Virginia Democrat running for office is far more effective, and his critique of leaders like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is complex and thought-provoking. Showcasing how the younger generation, represented by those who survived a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, can effect change, is a positive takeaway of this otherwise insightful but hardly optimistic look at just what’s become of this country so many people want to call great, an extremely typical, and typically immersive, Michael Moore film.


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