Moore brings the heat with Fahren­heit Ken Eis­ner

The Georgia Straight - - Movies -

A doc­u­men­tary by Michael Moore. Rated PG

A FIT­TING BOOK­END for the

Fahren­heit 9/11, era that be­gan with the lat­est from peo­ple’s polemi­cist Michael Moore takes its ti­tle from the date when the worst per­son in the USA be­came the most pow­er­ful man in the world. The orange men­ace is only oc­ca­sion­ally seen and heard here, for­tu­nately. But the film’s bad news is that the trib­al­ism, greed, and naked misog­yny he rep­re­sents are now pretty well en­trenched in the rem­nants of lib­eral democ­ra­cies just about ev­ery­where.

The gad­fly film­maker gained ex­tra cred in the fall of 2016 by be­ing one of the few voices to get it right about the chances of Trump win­ning. (Cue clips of sup­pos­edly smart pun­dits laugh­ing at the no­tion.) He doesn’t al­ways get it right; in 2007, Moore told this writer he was cer­tain that Hil­lary Clin­ton would be elected in 2008.

Ob­vi­ously, the tim­ing of this cin­e­matic pro­nounce­ment is con­nected to the midterm elec­tions. While it’s hard to imag­ine any Cult 45 mem­ber be­ing swayed by this nifty en­cap­su­la­tion of ev­ery­thing that went wrong in the past two years—in­clud­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence, ram­pant voter sup­pres­sion, and Repub­li­can blind­ness to their new leader’s ill in­tent—it doesn’t re­ally seem aimed at them.

In­deed, the movie is fairly tough on the Demo­cratic Party es­tab­lish­ment. Moore over­sim­pli­fies the process that Bernie San­ders fans feel “robbed” him, but there can be no doubts about the smug com­pla­cency of the old guard, and its timid­ity in the face of norm-smash­ing crooks in­tent on serv­ing the NRA, big banks, and filthy-rich oli­garchs, for­eign and do­mes­tic. Here, there’s some hope, in that the post-park­land cli­mate has un­leashed a new slate of grassroots can­di­dates, mostly fe­male and in­clud­ing many peo­ple of colour.

As usual, the big guy skips around like crazy, some­times at the ex­pense of depth and co­her­ence. At first, the side trip to Flint, Michi­gan—his home­town, and main lo­cale for the

Roger & Me—seems break­through like a di­gres­sion. But he builds a strong crim­i­nal case against Gov. Rick Sny­der, who made mil­lions for his rich friends by hol­low­ing out the state’s black-ma­jor­ity cities and poi­son­ing the peo­ple of Flint for his own profit.

Then-pres­i­dent Obama comes off par­tic­u­larly bad in this (on­go­ing) episode, since his much-her­alded visit to Flint turned out to be a mean­ing­less photo op—fol­lowed men­ac­ingly by ex­plo­sive army ex­er­cises about which no one both­ered to warn the res­i­dents. The mil­i­ta­riza­tion of po­lice, de­mo­niz­ing of im­mi­grants, sup­pres­sion of dis­sent, and cru­elty to women and chil­dren are just some of the par­al­lels drawn with the rise of Eu­ro­pean fas­cism in the 1930s.

Some of Moore’s trade­mark stunts, like go­ing to the Michi­gan state­house to “ar­rest” Sny­der, feel

j’ac­cuse like tired time-wasters. But his at 100 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who didn’t bother to vote in 2016 rings loud,

now. clear, and

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