Fahrenheit 9/11: Moore and more...
Last week, Fahrenheit 9/11 was released after a month of drama. You have to see this one, regardless of which side of the fence you are on, even if you tend to sit on the fence. My friend, of suspect credentials(watches Fox News and other Right Wing Channels) and I, starting arguing the moment we stepped out. Luckily, the prospect of beer distracted us from the argument.
In a world where any publicity is good publicity, it was not surprising to see my neighbourhood arty-farty Cedar-Lee Theatre packed with people. The public voyeur that I am, it was fun to make a note of the demography. All groups seemed to be well represented. The left-wingers with braided-armpit hair, the elite in their suit and tie. Youngsters with blue-coloured hair, old matrons with powdered faces, the modern peaceniks and aging beatniks. For a movie that generates such interest, however prurient, it's always a tall order to live upto the 'great expectations'. Especially if you are trying to put this film at a pedestal where Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 stands. (For lopsided, right-wing view see: by Christopher Hitchen's: Unfairenheit 9/11.)
Before we get to the honest motives and the complicated politics, I want to mention a few points about the movie as a movie. No one, but the most slanted reviewer can deny that Moore has done painstaking research with facts, the clips, and collecting the interviews. He shows the most incredible archival footage; including a Wolfowitz applying spit to his comb before a TV interview, Bush stating that a 'dictatorship' would not be a bad idea, the interview with the US soldiers where they of which music they like to listen to while attacking and others. Michael Moore with Fahrenheit 9/11 takes you on a roller coaster ride of raw emotion. You will find intense laughter morph into biting satire and then a scene be filled with moral and political indignation. After splitting your belly laughing the next one would be one that leaves a lump in your throat. Some have called this manipulation, cheating and even patronising the audience; I think it was sheer genius. The editing and the soundtrack was brilliant, including Ashcroft singing. Some of the best scenes: He makes you a part of the long shot of the mother crying as she reads her son's last letter. You can feel the furious anger of the Iraqi woman as she calls on Allah to destroy the Americans or the Iraqi mother as the Americans burst in to arrest his young college going son. The comedy of the Fresno peace group and the old man at the gym and the result of speaking his mind. I liked the way he introduces 9/11 with nothing but a black screen and then about 2-3 minutes of sounds recorded from that morning. In the darkness you hear the cries, the ambulances, the crashing glass and you can feel the visceral fear that someone might have felt trapped in one of those buildings. Then the slowly the picture comes back to light. Brilliant!
Of course he does go overboard with some of clips. For instance I don't think the Florida classroom clip is relevant. The oblique premise that Iraq was a peaceful country. Quite a few clips are taken out of context like the 'Bush dictatorship' one and this casts a shadow on Moore's argument.
The movie demonstrates a well known fact to the audience what a nincompoop the Chief Executive is. Is that patronising the audience? Bush is simply a 'President's son' and has failed with distinction, everything that he has tried to do in his life. The presidency a well-known fluke. One clip shows the cowboy Bush on vacation. He makes a really strong statement on policy and then smirks and says, 'Okay now watch this drive'. Moore shows his bungling Arbusto years and the Texas National Guard coverup. Some of Moore's comments here are superfluous and he indulges in some wicked editing. The scarier side is how major corporations want to cash in the opportunity in the destruction and re-construction of Iraq, the collusion of the Saud and Bush families, the oil pipeline through Afghanistan and the related Taliban visit to Texas.
More..The movie is not just about Bush and his inept administration, it's much more than that. Most critics of the film accuse of being lopsided. I disagree. It may have not shown Bush and other issues in flattering light, but it does try to see the whole picture, or rather the parts of the frame that get left out in the papers or on TV. It is the more substantial and deeper issues about America, the rotteness of big business and the real axis of evil, American foreign policy and the economy in small town America, that Moore really wants to talk about.
He takes on congressmen both Dem. and Rep. by accosting them on Capitol Hill, asking them if they would like to enlist their children. He rides a bus in DC reading out the Patriot Act. He forces a candid admission from a legislator, that they don't ever read ANY bill that they pass. He takes on the issue of how the Armed Forces target the poorest and most under-priviliged to join, as if they were offering them a job. Hitchens and other critics accuse of him of 'wanting to have everything'. Is it unfair to tell the story from everybody's point of view? Is it wrong to tell the story from a point of view of an adrenaline-charged, CD listening attacking soldier and later as another soldier undergoing rehab for lost legs? He shows the brutality of the conquerors and the humilation that the defeated suffer. He shows where these the kids now dead soldiers come from and their bitterly weeping parents.
The cost of war is not borne by those who wage it or against those who it is waged. It is the common, rather in most cases the worst off of both
Moore These issues are not just Bush or election-year issues. They are issues for all time. Whether Moore is the best documentary maker of recent times maybe debatable, but whether he lacks the courage to tackle them is never under question. There is more to come from this bear of a man from Flint, Michigan. We thought he just liked to bust Oscar ceremonies as a stunt.
Fahrenheit 9/11: Moore and more...
Judge a CD by its cover?
It is hard for me to step out of a bookshop or a music store without picking the 'last-must-have-CD'. However addicts like me think that they can tell quite a bit about the CD by listening to a few tracks. Very often you judge a CD by its cover, or where it is placed in the story. "Oh, that's hip-hop", or, "Oh, that's country". For some reason, people are always polarized when it comes to these two genres. Wonder exactly why. I often listen to this 'online-only' NPR radio(?) show, whose name is derived from from their popular current event show - All Things Considered. Don't forget to see the archives which have more interesting topics. I found this particular show quite a fun exercise - CD Covers ( on NPR's: All Songs Considered: Special Edition).In this edition the programme's producer Bob Boilen and a music journalist try to guess kind of music by simple looking at the CD covers. Was impressed by two bands( won't give it away, now). Would like to listen to them, if I can get hold of these obscure CDs.
Posted by hirak on Friday, June 25, 2004
Walmart's Bed Spreads, Shams and other scams - Part I
For the past month I have been fighting a losing battle in trying to use a Full size bedsheet on a Queen size mattress. I was spending a good amount of time in the morning adjusting the sheets so that it does not look ...nevermind..I decided not to be so cheap and get the correct size. Ironically, after deciding not to cheap like many other people out there I headed for the monster from Bentonville, Arkansas. After finding parking, itself a big battle I reached Walmart. Saturday mornings at Walmart are like a Family Picnic where everybody seems to be invited. A BBQ grill outside would make the picture more complete.
I was caught in the Saturday morning rush-hour aisle traffic. People admonished the cart speeders, some cast hurt looks at those with these automated carts, while others traded business cards upon cart crashes and filled insurance claims. In short, it was crazy! After navigating through the few backups and not being tempted by the 20 zillion, '$2.99 only Walmart Unbeatable Prices', I reached the Bed and Bath section. Walmart does not offer much to trying-to-be-classy-at-a-low-price comsumer. The three variables of price, color and size seemed to be mutually exclusive. Then from the corner of my eye, I spied this package that would match the color scheme. So I loaded up my cart with my lone package, with a smug smile of being the savvy consumer resisting the false temptation(oxymoron?) of wanting to fill the whole damn cart till things fell out. I also ignored the 'look-at-him' dirty looks from the other cheapster citizens of the Free World who had succumbed to the temptation of buying the 20 zillion, '$2.99 only Walmart Unbeatable Prices' and had forced another backup, now at counter. For some time I wondered why they don't have these quick checkout counters? Maybe those with '15 items or less' (a grammatically incorrect sign) are strange beasts at Walmarts.
Posted by hirak on Monday, June 21, 2004
Travels and its associated travails
Of late I have been out every weekend making trips to places where 'I' haven't gone before. These are works in progress. They shall be up soon.
How I almost got married, drowned, fell in love with LOVE and Mr. Parikh Goes to Washington
Posted by hirak on Tuesday, June 15, 2004
End Of the Real Estate Boom
After weeks of speculation the bubble has finally burst. Gmail gave each and every user 3 fresh invites. Bullish early gmail users who were waiting for the right time to sell their piece of internet real estate might have just waited too long. Hundreds of selfish speculators now find themselves unlikely to be offered
A woman's love and heart
An Indian Head Massage
Phish + Dead CDs
20$ in cash from Paypal
Free Web Hosting
anymore. These bizzare items were being offered in exchange on on Gmail Swap. The creator of this site an employed nerd from Canada might not find what he really wanted by starting the site - A job!
As property prices for the elusive gmail address crashed leaving many disgusted with their bad timing. People who were being laughed at and made subject of lewd jokes about 'peaking early' are now laughing their way to the Credit Union to deposit their 15$ cheques. Meanwhile old-timers reminisce about the old days (two months ago) when Gmail was service only open to the digital e-lite. At the Gmail Club, while signs 'For Internet Cognoscenti, Bloggers & Nerds Only: Two Finger Typists And Dogs Not Allowed' were being taken down an old-timer talks about the days of ' Separate but Equal Email Access'.
"It was great then, people looked at you with awe that you had a Gmail id. Many rued the fact that they did not blog or blogged at some other loser site. I guess I was greedy and missed all the lucrative offers of massages, money, eternal love and now its all over. In Grade I the music teacher told me I wont make a musician with my poor timing. It extends to other things as well." While some lamented about missed offers, the other e-lite talked about the parvenus who would eventually clog the service up. Some accused Google of 'selling out' and going commercial.
Meanwhile Yahoo, an old world egalitarian email provider increased it email quota from the pitiful 10Mb to 100Mb. People eagerly await what the Redmond monster will do next.
Posted by hirak on Wednesday, June 09, 2004