Fahrenheit 9/11

Let’s get the idea of objectivity out of the way immediately. Michael Moore is not here to be fair and balanced. He presents a bombshell of connections and conundums that enrage, engage and sadden.

I look forward to the fact-checking effort as the movie gets more widely seen – but there are still undisputable connections between Bush and big oil that can never ever be denied. The movie could have been four hours and it couldn’t have covered it all. You can’t deny Moore’s talent in rhythm – every joke and nuance hits dead on. I guess I can understand still voting Republican – but I cannot understand how someone can still vote for Bush this fall – he seems to be causing the very disintegration of the Republican party’s credibility (if it ever had any). From a spaghetti western roll-call of the current administration to a Christmas Eve raid on an Iraqi household to a dead child tossed into a truck of bodies being driven away, Moore arranges the throughline for maximum impact.

As I’ve said before, Michael Moore’s biggest gift is as a business case for liberal media – he’s proven to producers and publishers that there is an audience for these themes and these viewpoints. Other documentary makers have been able to use this new channel for their own distribution. The other part of this movie is that it is a sampler of the work and research tons of other journalists have uncovered in the past four years – and will lead many to read more at their local bookstore. Also useful is to keep brining up the same names: Harken, Halliburton and other companies – names that should send up a red flag when heard at anytime.

Ron and I went to the opening morning showing of the movie at 11:30 – I’d bought the tickets three days prior so we wouldn’t have to wait in line. When we got out of the theatre the line was snaked five floors down the spiral ramp inside the Century shopping center. I told a few people on the way down ‘Don’t worry! It’s worth it!’ The theatre was packed and this was like going to see a Star Wars movie on the first night or when they had the special editions of The Lord of the Rings movies – the true die-hards show up. Sort of like seeing opening night of the X-Files movie. Yeah, you’re preaching to the choir – but it’s nice to hear a different viewpoint for a change.

Deeply sad is one grieving mother as she journeys to the White House and doubles over in grief at the administration she holds responsible for her son’s death. Her pain and rage at the protestors before her son’s death and her pain and rage at the men that sent her son to a war afterwards are raw and moving.

Deeply shocking is seeing Bush sit there for 10 minutes in the classroom after he’s told America is under attack and he just sits there like a dumbass. I think that should just be the campaign ad for the rest of the summer and fall. Just Bush sitting there thinking Goddammit, Jeb was supposed to be president, not me! I still cannot believe the Secret Service did not usher him out – that is just wild. I know he didn’t want to upset the children but I think may we could have upset a small classroom of children when 3,000 people were in the process of incinerating to death.

Particularly shaming is to see 11 members of the House each get up to file a complaint during the Florida election scandal – each of them a minority and each of them without a single member of the Senate to sign on to their brief to allow it to be heard. Essentially they are told to just go sit down and shut up. Bush never won Florida. Gore fucked up and didn’t count all the votes – only the counties he thought would help him win. If he’d stuck to integrity instead of the same greed the Bushies had he might be sitting in the White House today.

I guess that the Bushies don’t understand the idea of a live satellite feed – that if there’s a camera on that you assume it’s broadcasting – if not to the public then to the studios and producers. Paul Wolfowitz will forever be burned in my memory slicking back his hair with a dab of his own slimy spit. And footage of George Bush practicing his facial expressions is especially telling.

Anyway – it’s not going to shake any True Bush Believer out there but it is an important event in this year’s election. If Moore is smart he’ll pull a Blair Witch and put the movie out on DVD right before the election – that is if attendance drops off in theatres.






22 responses to “Fahrenheit 9/11”

  1. jmflynny Avatar

    Andy, I would expect more critical review from you. Hell, even Joel Siegel at ABC poked holes in the movie and its credibility, pointing out numerous efforts to mislead the viewer. ABC, Andy. We’re not talking Fox News, but ABC. The word he used, repeatedly, was “reprehensible”, and it was with regard to the movie itself, not the administration.

  2. Andy Avatar

    Do you know if the review is online somewhere? I’m looking for it to get specifics. Do you remember any of Joel’s major complaints? Incidentally – you do know that Disney owns ABC and that they blocked the film’s distribution.

  3. jmflynny Avatar

    I pulled up the site, and it’s not showing yet. It looks like the reviews are about a week behind, because it is still showing the review for The Terminal.
    Basically, his first sentence was that Michael Moore is a genius, not for the film itself, but for the marketing campaign. He then spoke of several excerpts, (Bush golfing, the clip about the Bin Laden family flying out of the country, the clip of Moore asking Congressmen to have their children enlist in the armed services), and spoke deliberately of the errors contained within. He said, flat-out, that this is not a documentary, but pure propaganda, and literally called it “reprehensible.”

    And, yes, I do know about the ABC/Disney connection.

    The truth is, at least the way I see it, that those who despise Bush have picked a very poor leader for their assault upon him. Moore is an incredibly unreliable source upon which to rest their case. I continue to be amazed at those who allow folks such as Moore to speak for them, as his involvement almost immediately removes credibility from any argument. It just doesn’t seem wise.

  4. sam Avatar

    It seems to me that the only ones claiming Michael Moore as the “leader” and the “voice” of so-called liberals are the conservatives.

    There was no vote and no nominations, my dear. Michael Moore speaks for himself. And I can’t wait to see Fah 9/11.

  5. Andy Avatar

    Yes, it is very clear that Michael Moore does not represent or lead anybody besides himself and his own production company. I much rather prefer Greg Palast (also known as ‘Michael Moore without all the bullshit’),

    His movie is an intensely personal project and he freely admits that – granted he’s a lot less present in the movie than in his past productions – which I feel is a wise choice. His ‘gotcha!’ style is in a few segments but often the subject material speaks for itself. I still remain dumbfounded at Condi saying, “I believe the title of the memo was ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States’.” I’ve seen that tape many many times but it still is remarkable her whole non-chalance (and I know they didn’t consider it a ‘real threat’ – that memo would be titled: “Saudi Hijackers to Fly Planes into WTC and Pentagon on Sept 11” – but I still think they’d bitch unless it said American and United planes).

    As said above, you cannot deny the power of this movie as a piece of cinema – the craft and technique behind it are expert. I will probably see it at least two more times to get more perspective and track the arguments Moore makes and what dots don’t connect fully.

  6. geedub Avatar

    I completely agree with the point about the power of the film as a piece of art, as cinema. It is admittedly one-sided, but it pulls us effectively into Michael Moore’s world and keeps us there. The fact that we may or may not share that worldview is irrelevant. I may not see the world the way Blanche Dubois does, but Williams does a great job of constructing a world that makes me care about her and her worldview. That is the power of story. On a separate note, since when do I consider Joel Siegel an arbiter of what is fact? The man is paid to review films, not fact-check. Nice summary of the work, BTW.

  7. jmflynny Avatar

    “The man is paid to reiew films, not fact-check.”

    Precisely, and when someone such as Siegel, while on the Jennings network, CAN and DOES find fault with a movie, depicted as a documentary, there’s something going on. Or, are you only picking up on the parts of my comment that suit your purpose?

  8. JC Avatar

    Last night, I saw a late showing of the movie at the Carolina Theater in Dowtown Durham. We already had tickets, but still had to wait in line to enter around the block. It was impressive that so many people came out. I agree that there may be holes in the arguement and it may be misleading. However, I think one of the great gifts Moore’s film provides is the need to QUESTION and for each of is to think about connections of things and not take it at face value.

  9. jmflynny Avatar

    Yes, J.C., but unfortunately, far too many people, of all ilk, take what they see at face value, and never dig any deeper. When someone makes what is considered a documentary, they have a responsibility to do more than pose a question for those willing to answer it. The film maker also has an obligation to document that which he puts forth, and not rely upon the audience to seek out deliberate misrepresentations. That’s somewhat akin to blaming the victim of a con-artist for “not knowing better.” The fault lies with the con, and the artist, not with the victim.

  10. JC Avatar

    I agree with you. However, I think it is equally important for news organizations like Fox News to be more responsible. I think “victims” in this case are self selected. People choose to be passive and not critically of what they are told is “the truth.” It is a two way street.

  11. Andy Avatar

    I think a large onus falls on journalists who are so afraid of losing access if they are critical of a politician. They failed everybody in the country – regardless of your outlook on the war. The ‘cult of personalit’ where journalists dine and party with politicians is a disgusting conflict of interest.

  12. Andy Avatar

    Forgot to add that I thought the R rating was totally unmerited. This film should have easily been PG-13. It’s nothing or a caliber we haven’t seen on the news already.

  13. sam Avatar

    To say that Michael Moore should be “more responsible” because there are “stupid people” is just… fucking stupid.

    Moore is a FILM maker, he has no responsibility to anyone. I think you’ve got him confused with journalists and mass media and politicians.

    If you think this film is a bigger problem than almost every media network in the entire nation misleading the nation on a second by second basis, then you’re the one who needs to do some fact checking.

  14. Velociman Avatar

    I’ll have to suspend judgment until I see it, but I don’t think “documentary” fits this effort any more than it fits “Triumph of the Will”. In fact, I think Leni Riefenstahl is alive and well in Michael Moore. It’s a shame there can be no debate on the merits of whether Iraq was justified, and whether Bush’s policies are misguided. When people insist the war was hatched in Texas prior to 9/11, and it’s ALL ABOUT OIL! it demeans the debate. W may be misguided, or not, and folks should debate that, but he is not Satan.

  15. Andy Avatar

    Whether the plans to invade Iraq before 9/11 were that specific – you can’t deny the forecast from the Project for the New American Century. I really think these leaders/thinkers saw the terrorist attacks as their chance to ram through everything they possibly could. “Bush Knew”? Probably not. Nope, Bush ain’t Satan – it’s gotta be Cheney.

    And oil is just a small piece of their overall puzzle of increasing American military dependence abroad as part of a larger imperial imperative.

  16. RoguePlanet Avatar

    I’ll have to suspend judgment until I see it, but I don’t think “documentary” fits this effort any more than it fits “Triumph of the Will”. In fact, I think Leni Riefenstahl is alive and well in Michael Moore.

    Gawd, that is idiotic in so many ways I don’t know where to start.

  17. Andy Avatar

    If we’re going to toss out Riefenstahl comparisons we definitely have to include the ‘Mission Accomplished’ bullshit – that was pure, polished theater. ‘Major combat operations’ have been over for nearly a year – so why do so many people keep dying?

    If we follow the money we see that Leni’s ‘Triumph’ (which I have not seen but have been looking for on DVD for a while now – I should try Netflix) was a government sponsored film.

  18. Andy Avatar

    First round of responding to criticisms over at Moore’s site.

    Discussion on Metafilter, Slashdot, Plastic.

  19. andrew from l Avatar
    andrew from l

    Visual images, by their very nature, are emotional. The Michael Moore film (which I havn

  20. Tim Z. Avatar

    First of all, I’m deeply amused by all the folks who watch Fox News, blindly accept administration propaganda, and then slam, without irony, Fahrenheit 9/11 for being biased.

    Anyway, here are my thoughts on the film, written to avoid “spoilers” for the few people who haven’t seen it yet.

    The movie itself was intense but had moments of stinging humor. However, the most unexpected thing about it was its deep emotional impact.

    The opening segment was a look back at the election and post-election of 2000. Once again those events, skillfully depicted, made my blood boil.
    The most memorable September 11th-related segment was the elapsed time footage of Dubya sitting for about seven minutes with a copy of the book “My Pet Goat” in that elementary school classroom in Florida on the morning.
    I understand Moore’s need to underscore the Bush-Saudi connections, but the documentation of those business connections took a little too much time from a strictly cinematic viewpoint.

    The portions of the film devoted to the Iraq War are probably its most effective segments. At different times, I felt proud of and embarrassed by the actions of our troops there.
    The most wrenching parts of the film were those featuring Lila Lipscomb, who hails from Moore’s home town of Flint, Michigan. You could actually hear some sobbing and see people dabbing their eyes in the theater. I felt shaken and upset.

    Almost so that moviegoers wouldn’t leave the theaters feeling too depressed, the film ends with one of the more hilarious Bushisms. That got sustained applause here in liberal Oak Park, IL.
    “Rockin’ In The Free World” by Neil Young is what’s played during the closing credits. Because of its association with Fahrenheit 9/11, we can probably expect to hear this song more in the next few months.

    The film will not, of course, sway hardcore Bushies.
    But if you think that Bush is currently the greatest domestic danger to our country’s civil liberties and to its economy, this film will make you feel disgusted and energized at the same time. The expression “firing up the base” comes to mind.
    The “undecided” voters will probably be favorably influenced by Fahrenheit 9/11. That, of course, is the Republicans’ greatest worry. If any open minded American has any doubts that George W. Bush is a complete idiot, those doubts will be put to rest by this film.

    This film had a deeply personal effect on me, and a very favorable one at that. In a way, it reminded me why I exist.