Controversy gave box-office success and cultural clout to Mel Gibson and The Passion of The Christ. Now Michael Moore is hoping it will do the same for Fahrenheit 9/11, his heavily sarcastic, rather entertaining, and somewhat incoherent screed against the presidency of George W. Bush. In this film, Moore, who has made a career out of stalking corporate executives and ambushing conservative celebrities like Charlton Heston, focuses his political indignation and his weakness for the cheap laugh on the White House, and he certainly finds ample material. There is very little here that anyone who has followed the politics of the past four years would consider new or revealing; for the most part, Moore's film is a merry, occasionally sentimental summary of every anti-Bush opinion column ever written.
It all begins with a flashback to the election of 2000, when, as Moore would have it, the big three networks and the Democratic Party all folded under the withering glare of Fox News and allowed Bush to snatch the presidency away from Al Gore. Moore glides past the possibility that there may have been genuine confusion on election night, and he omits any reference to the legal fight that Gore did put up. What's more, he never even attempts to explore why not one senator joined certain congresspeople in protesting the alleged disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida. If curiosity is an essential characteristic of a good documentary—or any other film, for that matter—then it is notably lacking here. Moore is much less interested in plumbing the ambiguities and ironies of American political life than in doing whatever it takes to manipulate his audience's sympathies.
Indeed, despite the occasional intriguing revelation—such ...1
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