Sunday, September 16, 2018

film review: Fahrenheit 11/9

Michael Moore with fan, Jared Kushner
Director: Michael Moore
Writers: Michael Moore

ChinoKino score: A

Review by Allan Tong

Left or right, you know where you stand with a Michael Moore film and Fahrenheit 11/9 is definitely no exception.

Moore's latest, which premiered at the start of TIFF, is a troubling snapshot of the United States, a country driven to ruin by despot Donald Trump, whom Moore compares to Hitler. Naturally, Trump supporters will despise this film, but surprisingly Democrats will cringe at Moore's shots at the Clintons over their "compromise" liberal politics and the Democratic machine that this film claims stole the party nomination from Bernie Sanders.

The message: both sides of the aisle have forsaken ordinary working Americans and it's time to take democracy back--or it'll disappear.

Fahrenheit 11/9 has a checklist of many of America's current ails. A major one is the water scandal in Moore's hometown, Flint, Michigan, a scandal created by Gov. Rick Snyder that he manufactured to appease his corporate buddies, but has poisoned the poor (and mostly black) children of that beleaguered state. At the recent TIFF premiere, the audience reportedly gasped when Moore said that Snyder ordered the water supply for the town's GM factory be switched back to the clean source, because the dirty water was corroding GM's auto parts. Meanwhile, the kids were stuck with lead-heavy water and permanent brain damage.

This is actually the most compelling part of the film, since Moore does his job as a reporter by letting a whistleblower, residents and a scientist tell their stories. It'll surprise and disappoint lefties to see how then-President Obama let Snyder off the hook during a visit to Flint.

Moore also targets the electoral college (Hillary actually won more votes than Trump), the Parkland school shooting and teachers' strikes in impoverished West Virginia. He reserves his strongest venom for Trump, showing how he incited his followers to beat protestors at campaign rallies and separated the families of Mexican migrants that the last-surviving Nazi presecutor condemns. Moore even highlights Trump's attraction to his daughter, Ivanka, which will make viewers wince.

Moore covers a lot of ground in this film, and at times Fahrenheit 11/9 sprawls, which is a weakness. However, Moore is such a skilled and persuasive filmmaker that you keep watching, clinging to his rollercoaster as it dips and careens, threatening to crash. Hell, even Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner (in vintage footage here) sing Moore's praises as a filmmaker.

Yes, Moore inserts himself to the film unnecessarily at times, but other times it serves the film, like him 'fessing up that he played nice when he appeared alongside the Donald on Roseanne Barr's long-forgotten talk show, because the show wanted him to.

Fahrenheit 11/9 barely mentions the Mueller investigation and he clearly feels that the hope of America lies in activists like a Iraq war vet who's running for office and the teenage activists of Parkland.

Moore's film is a cautionary tale, though, telling audiences that only its citizens can save democracy and that apathy is the real enemy. Will audiences listen?

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