Michael Moore in TrumpLand

MICHAEL MOORE IN TRUMPLAND, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, Jean Cocteau Cin­ema, 3 chiles

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

Michael Moore’s lat­est, which amounts to an im­pas­sioned pitch for Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial bid, was put to­gether in a cou­ple of weeks and rushed to mar­ket with just a few days re­main­ing un­til Amer­ica goes to the polls to de­cide the most con­tentious and sig­nif­i­cant pres­i­den­tial race in mem­ory. It will have a short shelf life.

Moore vis­its a the­ater in Clin­ton County, Ohio, in the belly of the Trumpian beast, to per­form a stage show lay­ered with gags and show­man­ship, but at its heart it’s a sincere and elo­quent ar­gu­ment for Hil­lary. The the­ater mar­quee de­clares “Trump Vot­ers Wel­come,” and the live au­di­ence that plays a large part in this doc­u­men­tary seems fairly evenly split be­tween Trump loy­al­ists and a Moore crowd. In the bal­cony, there’s a sec­tion for Mex­i­cans (or “peo­ple who look Mex­i­can”) that Moore sur­rounds with a wall, and he tells them they’ll have to pay to get out; there’s an­other sec­tion for Mus­lims, whom he mon­i­tors with a drone cir­cling over­head.

Moore ad­dresses dis­grun­tled white male vot­ers with em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion for their griev­ances against the es­tab­lish­ment and for their de­cline as the ma­jor force in the Amer­i­can so­cial fab­ric. He ac­knowl­edges that Trump is “the hu­man Molo­tov cock­tail” they’ve been wait­ing for and that a Trump vic­tory would be “the big­gest ‘[ex­ple­tive] you!’ in hu­man his­tory.” But he points out that a lot of Brits used the Brexit vote as an anger man­age­ment tool and woke up to pro­found buyer’s re­morse when it un­ex­pect­edly passed.

Moore goes on to build a case for Hil­lary, for whom he ad­mits he’s never voted. He cites her youth­ful ide­al­ism and life­time of pub­lic ser­vice, her ex­tra­or­di­nary ca­pa­bil­ity and in­tel­li­gence, her tough­ness, and the steep slope of sex­ism that she and women of her gen­er­a­tion have had to climb and are still bat­tling. He’s en­ter­tain­ing, and mostly very funny, but what he has to say is deadly se­ri­ous. And, by the time he’s done, even some of the clenched-jawed con­ser­va­tive white males in the au­di­ence are nod­ding in agree­ment — and there are more than a few eyes glis­ten­ing with mois­ture.

His pre­sen­ta­tion is not with­out flaws and clumsy mo­ments, but it’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance, if one that will ap­peal mostly to the peo­ple al­ready in the choir. The tar­get is largely the Bernie-or-bust crowd that can’t get over its me­dia-fu­eled dis­trust of Hil­lary. It could prob­a­bly sway some of them, if they’re will­ing to part with the high cost of a movie ticket in this cam­paign’s bru­tal fi­nal days. It should have been re­leased on TV or the in­ter­net for widest pos­si­ble ac­cess.

On Wed­nes­day, no­body will care. — Jonathan Richards

The Don­ald and me: Michael Moore

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