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FAHRENHEIT 9/11
MICHAEL MOORE'S NEW FILM, IS SHOCKING, SLANTED, JAW-DROPPING, AMAZINGLY LEFT, AND NEVER DULL!

Someone from the Democratic Party needs to write Michael Moore a big fat check, cause "Fahrenheit 9/11" is far more damaging to the Bush administration, than any paid political advertisement they could come up with.

Moore is often attacked (understandably) by people that feel his films aren't documentaries, but slanted propaganda pieces that leave out things to get his point across. What these people don't realize is that every documentary has an agenda underneath it, and anything short of 2 unedited hours of video footage without narration adds the director's touch. Things as subtle as camera angles, lighting, and background music can alter the viewer's opinion of what they see. Michael Moore may very well be the wolf-crying Liberal that his detractors make him out to be, but he sure does it in an entertaining manner.

Fahrenheit is an incredible look at the events leading up to the rise of the Bush Administration, the jaw-dropping financial ties his family and associates have with Saudi Arabia (including the Bin Laden family), and how the events of 9/11 paved the way for the US to have their way with Iraq with dubious motives.

Rarely has one had the chance to watch such a thorough documentary while the events its about are still fresh in the news. The timeliness of the still raging battles and upcoming election make this far more powerful and emotional, than it would have been if it were released years from now.

The film begins with Moore calmly narrating a sequence that shows Gore in a victory setting at the close of the 2000 election, saying, "Was it all a dream, Ben Affleck was there, and he's often in my dreams." A montage of footage from many anchors shows that Gore has won Florida, and likely the Presidency itself. Fox News, however, declares Bush is the victor, and the fact that Fox News director John Ellis (who is Bush's 1st cousin) is not ignored by Moore. A bit of election conspiracy is rushed through until we get to the inauguration, where Bush's limo is being egged and mobbed by angry protestors.

At this point, Moore really takes off. Instead of being an annoying giant troublemaker walking into the offices of evildoers, he shows tremendous restraint by letting existing news footage speak for itself. You learn that during the first 8 months Bush was in office, he spent an unheard of 42% of his time on some sort of vacation. Bush is shown defending his excessive time off to reporters with bullshit excuses like "with phones and faxes you can get a lot of things done, you don't need to be in Washington." It's clearly a portrait of a carefree leader who's coasting through good times, perhaps even asleep at the wheel. Perhaps too lackadaisical to even care about a memo handed to him in August 2001 that Osama Bin Laden was going to attack America.

Though there's a large block of the film dedicated to show the chain of oil-related companies that Bush drove to the ground before becoming president (with curious continued funding from the Saudis). Certainly the case for giant conflicts of interest for both he and Cheney to be making decisions that affect that country. At this point, Moore goes a bit overboard, using "Dueling Banjos" in the background when Bush in onscreen to illustrate that he's a dumb hick, and pounding you over the head with a nearly racist montage of photos of guys wearing Arab gear shaking the Bush family's hands. But that's when all the shit hits the fan.

Next we have a masterfully chilling sequence where the screen is black and you simply hear the audio of the World Trade Center attack chaos. The screams and explosions and crying are amazing. We've seen the images a million times over on CNN and have become pretty desensitized to them, so just hearing the awful sound of it all really make it seem fresh and horrifying again.

Once the first plane hit the World Trade Center, Bush was en route to a photo opportunity at a grammar school to read some books with kids. Alerted while in the limo, he decided to make the appearance anyway. The footage that follows is amazing, as you can see Bush's chief of staff enter the class, whisper into his ear about the 2nd WTC plane and the Pentagon, and he responds by...doing nothing. With America clearly under attack and in need of immediate leadership, Bush just sits there with glazed eyes for over 7 minutes, while he thumbs through a copy of the book, "My Pet Goat." This is not slanted filmmaking, but a sad look at a man who really appears to be over his head, with nobody to talk to.

The scenes that follow imply that the Saudis still have favors to call in, and on 9/11, when all flights across the country were grounded, when Bush's own father's flight was diverted, when "not even Ricky Martin could fly!", the Bin Laden family members in various locations of the USA received immediate and hassle free permission to fly back to Saudi Arabia. None of them were questioned. Moore spends equal time attacking the Saudi government, demonstrating that America was prohibited from questioning any of the suicide bomber's families in that country.

It's of course a "gimme" that America goes after Afghanistan to find Bin Laden, but it was never really that clear to me until seeing this film what a pathetic effort we really made in doing so. When it's mentioned that were more cops on the job in Manhattan than there were troops sent to Afghanistan, it's a disturbing picture indeed. In fact, the entire Afghanistan situation is presented as a red-herring to whip up America into a frenzy of terrorist alert fear to justify the invasion of Iraq.

This is where Moore throws away all impartialness and goes after Bush with guns a blazing. Showing an idyllic day in Iraq where everyone is happy, flying kites, eating ice cream, singing and dancing, the bombs start falling. In the aftermath, an enraged Iraqi holds up a mutilated baby's corpse screaming, "WHY?". The innocent dead are shown everywhere. Moore ignores any footage showing actual Iraqi military, and with excessive footage of young American soldiers talking about the music they like to listen to while attacking, certainly makes it look as if Iraq didn't deserve any of the treatment they got. Saddam himself is hardly shown.

But this is Moore's time to rage against the Bush machine, and he doesn't let up. Napalmed women, kids with their arms shredded off, are shown, and aside from some truly insane clips of angry Iraqis beating on a burnt American bodies then hanging them from a bridge, the opposing side is only briefly shown. An asinine clip of a laughing Bush is shown with him yukking it up, "They're mad at us because they're occupied. I'd be mad like that if we were occupied, too!"

Fortunately, Moore senses its time to lighten up and utilizes humor again by following Marine recruiters target the poor areas of Flint Michigan to drum up more new soldiers. One kid, who tells them he'd rather get in to music, is told, "You can get in to music in The Marines. Shaggy was a Marine. The discipline you get as a Marine will help you manage that million dollars you'll get when you're a famous rapper."

One bit that doesn't work, however, is when Moore approaches Congressmen and asks them to enlist their children in the military. It's edited to look as if they're running away from Moore because of the question, when in reality, they're just running away from Moore because...he's Michael Moore.

If you're a strong Bush supporter, this film will likely get you mad, and you'll just call Moore a stupid asshole. If you're a fan of Moore's work, you'll love it. If you like watching "the camera keeps rolling" footage of politicians doing goofy things, you'll adore it. And if you're just sort of on the fence about everything, like I was, just maybe you'll make up your mind about Bush once and for all and vote in this election with a passion. There's no smoking gun in this film. To point out that Bush may not be the most capable man that's ever held the office of President is no new revelation. But if Moore can convince more people to speak with the vote, then I'd call this film a success.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

retroCRUSH RATING

THREE out of FIVE

 

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