Fahrenheit 9/11 (USA; 112 min.)

directed by: Michael Moore
Fahrenheit 9/11

Bruce says: "If you still think that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that there was a link between Al Qaida and Iraq before 9/11 or that George Bush has been telling us the truth, please see this film. Otherwise forget it, this film’s a bore. It is not a bad film, just a dull one. Part of its dullness stems from the fact that this viewer already knew most of what is presented in argument against the Bush Administration. The second biggest contributor to the boredom factor is the amount of time George W. Bush is on screen.

"The Bush Administration is presented as a huge propaganda machine, convincing America and Congress that we needed to wage war against Iraq as though there were a connection between Iraq and 9/11. Bush makes many speeches, coming across like a snake oil salesman as he sells the concept of war and instills fear in the hearts of Americans. The film scores its points, one by one. We learn about the many coincidences which abetted the snatching of Gore’s victory in Florida and handing it to Bush; the connection between Saudi Arabia, the bin Ladens and George W. Bush’s various business enterprises; the connection between Halliburton and the administration.

"The star of the show is Lila Lipscomb. She is a working housewife in Flint Michigan, Moore’s hometown which he immortalized in ROGER AND ME. When we first meet Lila, she considers herself a conservative Democrat. Unquestionably she is a patriot, demonstrated by how carefully she places her American flag into a flag stand screwed to the side of her house. She is proud that she never lets the flag touch the ground as she performs her daily routine. She had a daughter who served in Desert Storm and a son who is on his way to Iraq. She claims her family is 'the backbone of America.'

"Later in the film Moore returns to the Lipscomb house. She is surrounded by her racially mixed family as she tearfully reads the last letter her son Michael Pederson wrote home before he died. Her son decries the American occupation of Iraq, knowing that the leaders of his country have no idea what they are doing. Later, Lila takes a detour to visit the White House when she is in Washington on a business trip. There she encounters an Iraqi protest display where a woman wails about Americans killing her people. An American woman wearing a tailored pants suit approaches Lila and tells her to pay no attention to the wailing woman because she is a fraud. Lila replies, 'My son is dead.' The woman coldly replies 'A lot of people are.'

" The American people need to feel and understand the needless sacrifice coming from the backbone of the country. If anyone is undecided how to vote in November, it is Lila - and others like her that can communicate the futility of sacrificing those they love - who will tilt the scales. All the damning statistics, the anti-Bush jokes, and the close-ups of dead Iraqi children will not do the trick.

" Several quotations from George Orwell are particularly prescient. 'War is not meant to be won it is meant to be continuous.' 'War is raised by the ruling group against its (own) subjects.' Earlier in the film George W. was speaking at a fund raiser, thanking 'the haves and the have mores. Some call you the elite. I call you my base.' Too many Americans identify themselves as being part of the ruling group when, in fact, they are no where near the 'haves and the have mores.'' It’s time they learned that reality. 3 cats.

Chris says: "Unless you've been in a coma or blissfully gabbing about a desert island for the past four years, FAHRENHEIT 9/11 is going to offer few revelations or surprises. Having said that, it's still a extremely powerful film. At this point, no one really needs Michael Moore to tell them that George W. Bush is a total buffoon; but it's one thing to read about it in his book Dude, Where's My Country (which this film is pretty much an adaptation of) and another to actually see it onscreen: the footage assorted here is alternately obvious, ironic, sad, and chilling. Moore is most effective in the film's second half when he delves into the war in Iraq; he uses the ridiculousness of this war (and, more importantly, its tragic, personal consequences) as his strongest argument against Bush. Moore's glib-verging-on-condescending humor hasn't entirely dissipated, but a more somber tone dominates, and it's effective. The best thing I can say about what is essentially a piece of high-gloss propaganda is that, like BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, I can't stop thinking about it hours after I've seen it."
Janet says: "Saw this with my niece, Stephanie, a few days after it opened (sold-out
shows at the West Newton on a Monday night!). Had meant to see SPRING, SUMMER... but since I had a houseguest I wanted to take her to the movie with the big buzz.

"Like Diane, I did not feel that I had to see the movie to find out what a bad idea the war on Iraq is. I publicly opposed the war before it began; the White House has a record of my e-mail. But Moore begins his story decades before the war, and in his wide-ranging, multi-mood style, he fashions a narrative that will be convincing for the large numbers of moviegoers who haven't kept up with current events. (A lot of the same information has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, but who's going to read that?)

"Moore does a wonderful job on the narration (I hadn't realized what a nice voice he has), and his timing on the funny lines is first-rate. The editing is a tour de force, and many of the sadder moments are eloquently presented as well. His choice to NOT show the much-repeated footage of the planes flying into the twin towers was a particularly good one. But anyone who has kept up with the newspapers will find a few holes in the story. For instance, a parade of pathetic nations in the Coalition of the Willing leaves out Britain, and there is no mention of Saddam Hussein's atrocities toward his people.

"The least effective sequence for me was the story of a pro-war woman whose serviceman son Goes in the war, changing her whole attitude about the conflict. Not only is her grief not particularly eloquent, but I wanted to say to her, 'What didja THINK was gonna happen?' The same goes for people who are against capital punishment but change their tune when someone in their family is murdered. (The father of that little James Curley comes to mind.) Here's an idea, folks---when you decide where you stand on an issue, include some imaginary scenarios involving your own family before making a decision, and save us all a lot of time. (By the way, Diane is against the death penalty, and if she's ever murdered, I'm fully prepared to read a statement at the trial expressing her wishes that the murderer's life be spared.)

"I also don't like Moore's practice of sweeping up various people to go and present his case with him, as he did with this woman and with a young Marine. She ends up kind of bumbling around in front of a barrier at the White House, unsure of what to do next, probably because Moore's van drove her there. His mixture of commenting on the news and making up news is grating at those times.

"What the film does most effectively is to make Bush look ridiculous, and the effects of that alone cannot be overestimated. Moore, Howard Stern, and John Edwards may be successful in getting us a new president. I'm really looking forward to that, because except for a couple of weeks in Scotland, where I could blend in because the name Young is as common there as Smith is here, I've been afraid to leave the country. Not for fear of being killed by terrorists, but for fear of dying of embarrassment."

Michael says: "The biggest documentary in history. That's the prize that Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 9/11 has won for his latest rant against the Bush administration. I admire Moore, and the way he unabashedly and forcefully presents his opinion to the masses by way of film, and as is always the case, he does so in an entertaining way that insures a wide audience. However, I don't think Moore is a very good filmmaker, and for me, if I wasn't already in agreement with his politics, I would find some of his emotionally manipulative stunts hard to take.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 is filled with important information however, most of which I was already privvy to, but presented in a neat, 2 hour package, the evidence is certainly pretty damning to Bush and his cronies. It's hard to believe that anyone can take him seriously as a President. Moore goes for a lot of cheap laughs, editing some of Bush's silly verbal and facial antics together, juxtaposing well-known songs whose lyrics (always ironically) pointing toward the imagery. He goes for shock as well, his camera fearlessly lingering on the horrors of the Iraqi war's effect on the civilians of Baghdad. And most disappointing for me, he tries to milk the emotion a little too manipulatively. There are plenty of emotionally powerful moments that he does well, like his documenting of the 9/11 attack. When he travels with a woman whose son has recently died in the Iraqi conflict, to Washington D.C. and she breaks down into sobs, the camera lingers a little too long on her solitary figure. You'd think he would have put his arm around her or offerred her a little comfort.

Ironically, FAHRENHEIT 9/11 made me appreciate THE CONTROL ROOM, Jenane Noujaim's documentary on the Middle East's news source, Al Jazeera, all that much more. Noujaim's film seems so much more objective, and for me, more interesting in the long run. I know that's not what we're expecting from a Michael Moore film, and I did find FAHRENHEIT 9/11 to be an informative and entertaining couple of hours (although the latter half with all the soldier interviews and war footage started to drag for me, particularly in the uncomfortable seast at the Coolidge Corner Theatre) but for a documentary, which this film ostensibly is called, I prefer something a little more objective. 3 cats

P.S. Incidentally, this film may not be eligible for Chlotrudis consideration as it was produced by Miramax, whose produced films we disqualify..."
Ron says: "I saw FAHRENHEIT 9/11 Friday night at a 9:40 pm sold-out show. It's entertaining, funny, sad, disturbing, boring, outlandish, all over the board and a lot of stuff in between -- which is what we have come to expect from filmmaker Michael Moore who, I must admit, I don't care for that much. There's no denying, however, that this is a terribly important film. Moore is very good at selecting the facts he wants to use for his point of view, laying them out, and connecting the dots. Yes, there are some thinly-veiled, unsubstantiated accusations. Yes, the methods he uses to connect those dots are part conjecture and, as the film maker, he is entitled to his opinion. I strive to be a well-informed citizen so, for me, there were no major revelations in the film. You can't deny, however, that the facts he presents bring up a lot of disturbing questions the Bush administration refuses to address. Paraphrasing from memory, a White House spokesman (who hadn't yet seen the film) called it 'so blatantly political that it doesn't merit comment.' It's the Bush party line: if it's a question we can't answer without revealing how stupid/inept/corrupt/deceitful we are, blame the enemy for 'playing politics' and ignore/avoid the question. If Michael Moore's version of the facts are incorrect, why isn't the Bush administration refuting him with it's own version of facts? There's nothing wrong with politics -- for better and worse, it's part of our governing process. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has thrown discourse out of the political equation. We have an administration that is largely operating without credibility or accountability. It's astonishing to me ... maybe Karl Rove really is a genius, albeit an evil one."