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.
The Set
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.)

The Movie
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.

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