Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 

From the--get this!--Fox News review:
The crowd that gave Michael Moore's controversial "Fahrenheit 9/11" documentary a standing ovation last night at the Ziegfeld Theatre premiere certainly didn't have to be encouraged at all to show their appreciation. From liberal radio host and writer Al Franken to actor/director Tim Robbins, Moore was in his element.

But once "F9/11" gets to audiences beyond screenings, it won't be dependent on celebrities for approbation. It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.

As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" — as we saw last night — is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty, and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.


Now, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that this movie has been the cause of a lot of trouble. Miramax and Disney have gone to war over it, and "The Passion of the Christ" seems like "Mary Poppins" in retrospect. Before anyone's even seen it, there have been partisan debates over which way Moore may have spun this or that to get a desired effect.

But, really, in the end, not seeing "F9/11" would be like allowing your First Amendment rights to be abrogated, no matter whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.

The film does Bush no favors, that's for sure, but it also finds an unexpectedly poignant and universal groove in the story of Lila Lipscombe, a Flint, Mich., mother who sends her kids into the Army for the opportunities it can provide — just like the commercials say — and lives to regret it.

Lipscombe's story is so powerful, and so completely Middle American, that I think it will take Moore's critics by surprise. She will certainly move to tears everyone who encounters her.

"F9/11" isn't perfect, and of course, there are leaps of logic sometimes. One set piece is about African-American congressmen and women voting against the war with Iraq and wondering why there are no senators to support them.

Indeed, those absent senators include John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy, among others, which Moore does not elaborate upon. At no point are liberals or Democrats taken to task for not speaking out against the war, and I would have liked to have seen that.

On the other hand, there are more than enough moments that seemed to resonate with the huge Ziegfeld audience.

The most indelible is President Bush's reaction to hearing on the morning of September 11, 2001, that the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Bush was reading to a grade-school class in Florida at that moment. Instead of jumping up and leaving, he instead sat in front of the class, with an unfortunate look of confusion, for nearly 11 minutes.

Moore obtained the footage from a teacher at the school who videotaped the morning program. There Bush sits, with no access to his advisers, while New York is being viciously attacked. I guarantee you that no one who sees this film forgets this episode.

More than even "The Passion of the Christ," "F9/11" is going to be a "see it for yourself" movie when it hits theaters on June 25. It simply cannot be missed, and I predict it will be a huge moneymaker.
I'm seeing it on the 25th. Anyone up for a half-day at work?
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