Burning down the house
Friday June 25, 2004
At 2:15 this afternoon I was standing in line in the rain to see a movie. It's the first time I've been to see a movie in a theater in a while. It's the first time in 15 years or more that I stood in line on opening day. I'm glad I did.
The first showing at 11:50 almost sold out according to theater employees. The 2:30 showing sold out shortly after we got our tickets. We were among the last 50 or so to get in. The line stretched out into the parking and the pouring rain. A sign said tonight's 7:50 showing had already sold out. There was a long line for the 5:10 show as we were leaving. There appears to be a great deal of interest in this film, and judging from the loud standing ovation at the end it's a hit.
Say what you will about Michael Moore, but Fahrenheit 911 is a masterpiece. Moore puts you through an emotional wringer, relentlessly assaulting your sensibilities with the outrageous, the profane, and the absurd. During the first five minutes, I whispered to Mrs. Bubba that I didn't know if I would be able to take it. She concurred. By the time it was over we had both gone through a few Kleenexes. But thankfully Moore provides comic relief just when it's most needed.
I won't say much about the content. Besides, if you've been paying attention you won't learn much of anything new. The camera work is goofy, the news footage is grainy, the editing feels choppy and haphazard (as if he was editing the last reel as they were printing the first so he could get in as many current events as possible), and some of the scenes go on too long or fall flat. But the man knows how to tell a story and is not above kicking you in the gut to tell it.
If you are setting out to make a film critical of the Bush administration your source material is an embarrassment of riches. Moore chooses wisely, and in fact is more subtle and restrained than I expected (or than I would have been). And make no mistake. This movie is not about 9/11. It is about Bush. And war. In fact, if anyone tells you Moore is politicizing or exploiting 9/11 you will know they haven't seen the movie. When you see it you will know what I mean, not because of what he portrays but partly because of what he doesn't.
As for "lies" and "distortions", I didn't see any. There are, however, plenty of facts left hanging for you to decide how to interpret. Moore uses music and humorous subtitles as cues (to excellent effect), but leaves it mostly up to you. The scenes in which he wants to be perfectly clear about his point, however, are powerful, emotional, and undeniable by even the most hard-core Bush supporters.
Of course, they won't be going to see this movie. And that's a shame. (Judging from the turnout, by midnight tonight every Democrat in Knox/Blount/Anderson county will have seen it, but then we're a small minority around here). Moore is preaching to the choir, but it's a sermon every American who cares about America should have to sit through. Anyone who does won't be fooled again.
26 June 2004
South Knox Bubba went and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 yesterday. Here's his review: