Fahrenheit 9/11

Karl and I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight. There are fewer classic Moore scenes in it than his other movies, which is a huge improvement. His message is way too important to be lost in the noise of his wacky hijinks. In some ways, I think the criticism of his previous movies have taught him what Moore-moments are defensible, and which ones he needs to just leave out of movies. (The bank-rifle scene in Bowling for Columbine scene is a case where he was fairly excoriated by the critics, I think. To my knowledge, there are none of those in Fahrenheit 9/11.)

One thing I really liked about it was the pace. He does a very good job of balancing serious stuff that brings a tear to your eye and requires thought to absorb, and zany vintage-Moore scenes that make you laugh.

However, one of the transitions was very uncomfortable; he cut from footage of Bush on the aircraft carrier declaring the end of major combat to footage of a mortar landing near some American troops. The shock of the mortar going off and the troops disappearing into smoke was like the punchline in a joke. But I immediately found myself thinking, “please God, let that just be a bang, not a deadly attack”. Alas, the troops were injured by the attack, and you see them being carried off in stretchers. It made me unhappy I’d perceived the boom as a punchline, and it made me mad at Moore for putting me in that situation.

Also, there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over the graphic scenes in the movie. There are some, and they are appropriate to the message of the parts of the movie they are in. The MPAA made the right call on the R rating, I think. I understand Moore’s argument about the rating, but there was no compelling reason to bend the rules for this movie, and the rules clearly put the kind of images Moore chose to put into his movie into the “R” rating. Perhaps Moore’s argument about the rating was just a publicity stunt. I wouldn’t put it past him.

All in all, this movie tells Moore’s viewpoint, and I’m all for that. One of the few things from the political world that has recently warmed my heart is that the right wing zealots have given up attacking this film on the grounds that Michael Moore shouldn’t be allowed to say these things. It could simply be for the pragmatic reason they are trying to keep from giving him press. But I prefer to believe it is because even the right wing understands that once we’ve lost the freedom of speech, we’re all in real trouble.

Except the Fox News Channel. Fox News long ago lost the freedom to voice the words “Fair and Balanced” without having us all titter…

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