Monday, July 05, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 (IMDB) (Netflix)
The Fourth of July. A good day to see Michael Moore's controversial documentary dealing with how the Bush administration has responded to the most devasting day in modern U.S. history. Hundreds of others seemed to agree and the art house cineplex, and the shopping mall that housed it, were overrun by fellow travelers waiting in line for the next showing, or maybe the one after that.

While my politics are not so disimilar from Moore's, I've resisted seeing his films ever since the 1989 "Roger and Me", which seemed to take cheap shots and set up the little guy, like security guards just doing their job. I don't even like the way he looks, with a style-free unkemptness that the "Queer Eye" guys would take a pass on. I do know, however, that documentaries aren't objective, and for all the harping on the right about Moore's two-hour diatribe, it can't compare to Rush Limbaugh's or Sean Hannity's three hours of demagoguery every weekday. So why don't we talk about how it works as a film?

Compared to "Roger", this is a much more mature effort, with targets that get paid to be accountable, and lets them do much of their own self-destructing. There are the ambushes of pro-war Congressmen, there are gruesome scenes of civilian casualties in Iraq, and there's a painful moment from a mother who lost her son in Iraq going to the White House. What was most effective, however, were interviews with disillusioned soldiers. There are also enough light moments to relieve the anger and frustration. But reviews won't matter much; liberals will be satisfied seeing their worst opinions of the administration confirmed, and conservatives understandably won't want to subject themselves to this powerful assault on their beliefs.