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IN SHORT: Four simple, liberal words: You've been played, folks. [Rated R. 116 minutes]
Fahrenheit 9/11 is about as "review proof" a documentary as you can get. Those who are pro-Dubya and pro-the war in Iraq have been painting Michael Moore as the equivalent of an anti-christ all over talkradio for many months. Those that are pro-Moore (regardless of their feelings about the war) get to annoy the opposition by throwing ourselves on that old, persnickety thing called the First Amendment -- even if we think the loudmouth is wrong.
We're going to do our best to avoid the politics of the war but we will take a shot at analyzing what Moore uses to establish his opposition to the current administration, which is what this film is all about. It is a savage attack of the best kind. It is also a great demonstration of letting the politicians dig their own holes to lie down in. The film which links news footage of the participants and hangs 'em on their own petards (sic). Conservatives are free to argue that taking random clips and stringing them together is the surest route to "out of context" arguments and they would be right, excepting that Moore provides a running narrative timeline to keep everything in historical perspective. His point of view, that the president is a buffoon and that all our actions regarding Iraq are motivated by a land grab by Big Oil interests, that the soldiers that have died in Iraq have done so for nothing, is laid out as simply and effectively as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
For those who haven't been paying attention, Moore's argument is this: Sadaam Hussein wasn't planning an attack against the United States. He didn't have and wasn't trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, either chemical or nuclear. His villainy extended solely to the material; with control of Iraq's oil and the money that came with it Hussein could spend his free time making his enemies very miserable and very dead. On this end of the ocean, President Bush used the resources of his government to gather up all the relatives of bin Laden who were present in the U.S. and fly them the heck out of the country while everyone else was stuck in airports because their flights were grounded.
A more important political point is that our drive to war served only to make the backers of Dubya even wealthier than they had been before, all over the bodies of the young and the poor who viewed the Army as a way up the economic food chain. That point is driven home by a pro-Bush/ pro-War military mom who proudly saw her son ship out of his Flint Michigan home, Flint also being Moore's hometown. Through letters from her son which she shares with us and via events that she relates, her mind does a 180 on camera. It is the film's most effective moment and one which is absolutely necessary for the simple reason that Moore has bones to pick with the Bush Administration and isn't the usual dispassionate documentary reporter.
And how could forget the events of the film's title? The attack of 9/11, as all of us in New York City already knew, had nothing to do with Hussein. Never did. It was, as conceived by Osama bin Laden and the majority of his operatives, an attack by terrorists raised among the wealthy in Saudi Arabia. That wealth was the same oil money that financed Dubya's presidential campaign, at least the hunk of it that wasn't financed by Texan interests. Again and again, Moore draws links between Saudi money and Republican/ Administration/ Oil Company interests. Again and again, he makes Dubya look like a buffoon. We're repeating our self so we'll move on.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is as infuriating as it is informative. It is also a very funny movie - not in a sharp sarcastic manner but more in whack you when you're not looking vein. And, given the savage-ness of its attack, we expect to see the conservative talkradio front go ballistic. Is the current Administration in the pocket of Saudi interests? Those firmly convinced that Bush is absolute and forthright won't be spending their money on this attack. Those convinced that Bush is a pawn (and so forth) will probably be applauding at the end of the film, as many in our audience were. The more important audience is the one who hasn't made up its mind.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Fahrenheit 9/11, he would have paid . . .
Moore is to the Left. The Fox Newschannel is to the Right. Good luck to you both.
[some message board activity suggests that I didn't make it clear enough that Moore was out to attack the Bush administration. Learn to read in context . . . ]
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