View Full Version : Disappointing

10-22-2002, 02:56 PM
I describe myself as a semi-fan of Michael Moore. I loved "Roger and Me" and his show "TV Nation," and was enjoying "The Big One," until I realized that it was just the same repetitive cycle of confronting a CEO at headquarters, getting the runaround and then unnecessarily humiliating some hapless PR rep. So, I
entered this film with some trepidation. Overall, I'd have to give it 2 stars. Much of it felt like a lazy effort--often there was no actual documentary, but rather clips from tv shows, training videos, old commercials, Chris Rock stand up, news items and stock footage. Would've rather seen a limit on the number of clips and more interviews and commentary.

What was good about it: the interview with James Nichols was terrifying and revelatory. The film also provoked a lot of thought about why Canada is so less violent, given that they have a similar love of guns, and the same entertainment. I winced a bit when I saw him taking the 2 Columbine survivors to KMart headquarters to return the bullets, thinking it was another Big One style ambush. But when the PR rep was revealed
to be a robotic idiot, it didn't bother me as much. For once, it actually worked and KMart won't sell handgun bullets anymore. Though I'd already seen the Columbine security camera footage on 60 Minutes, it was presented sensitively and was still emotionally draining. And, he did convince me that Welfare to Work is the new slavery.

The bad: Here and there the film lacked focus--was this an attack on the US goverment? Corporate America? Rednecks? It just kept jumping around. And what did the failure of Welfare to Work have to do with guns policy? I don't like these tenuous connections--well, if she didn't have to travel far to work, she'd be home and her kid would never have found the gun. Too hard to make that connection. The cartoon about the history of white people being the cause of all the problems in America, wiping out the Indians and enslaving and killing blacks was offensive. I'm white, but none of my ancestors had anything to do with
this and I feel irked when getting lumped in with the bad guys. Moore's attack on white males in this film and his book "Stupid White Men" seems to indicate a sense of self-loathing. This came
up again in his attack on the show Cops as creating racial hatred and fear. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the stereotypical criminal on cops the shirtless white trash drunk beating on his wife? Kind of destroys the argument. The Heston interview could have been provocative, but in light of his recently diagnosed Alzheimer's, it was clear that the man was losing his ability to formulate thoughts and proved kind of pointless. Next, I think
blaming our love of guns on media-created fears of non-existent
boogeymen is only part of the problem. A general lack of mental health care or the willingness to go for help seems to be behind most massacres and attacks. And finally, I don't like how he left the answer to our questions about violence to an "I Don't Know." Geez, you spent a year making this film--have some sort of conclusion! Given this open ending, I don't see the film convincing one side or the other that they are wrong about

Perhaps most disappointing, the film had none of the Moore sense of humor that resonated through parts of Roger and Me and all of The Big One. A little comic relief among the bleak statistics would've helped.

So, I remain perplexed as to why this poorly organized, unconvincing documentary got a 20 minute standing ovation at Cannes.

10-22-2002, 11:31 PM
> A little comic relief among the bleak statistics would've helped.

Where did you see it? The theater I was in was laughing the whole time!

The focus was broad, but is there a need to hold Mr. Moore to a single topic? I see your points about it being sporadic. But screw the organization, let's get into the problem and follow the tangential problems where they may lead us. Afterall, I think there IS some connection between cultures of fear, gun violence and some sort of societal manipulation by the Man. Welfare to Work is pretty unbelieveable.

Loose connections aside, I was glad to travel alongside Moore on his exploration. Look forward to his next.