Now I can tell you how good Fahrenheit 9/11 is. Having seen it and such.
Longtime readers will remember two weeks ago (which is a long time if your back hurts, right?), I recommended everyone in the world go see that flick, and that they find a way to get everyone else to go see it, too. I suggested that those who already know what a stunted weed George Bush is should coax others to see Michael Moore's movie so that they, too, will finally realize that Bush, if not one of the biggest criminals on Earth, is certainly one of the stupidest.
What I didn't say was that it was a good movie. Couldn't! Not having seen it and such.
But I have and it is. Goo-ud! No Citizen Kane, mind you, but what it lacks in innovative cinematography, nuanced characters and scintillating dialogue, it makes up for in the raw power to enrage. Tongue-biting, vein-popping, sphincter-clenching mad. Trust me, by the time those final credits roll, you will be pissed. It even offers you a choice of who to be pissed at: George Bush or Michael Moore ... take your pick.
But! If it's Moore you leave the theater wanting to lynch, keep in mind there is very little in Fahrenheit 9/11 you couldn't have known about long before opening night--had you been interested in knowing it. (And more to the point, had the mainstream media been interested in reporting it.) The Bush family's deep business ties with the bin Laden clan, the devil's deal with the Taliban to build a gas pipeline through Afghanistan, the abuse of prisoners, the gruesome deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians, the winner-takes-all corruption of Dick Cheney's Halliburton, the recruitment of poor folks to fight and die for rich folks' benefit, the resurrection of Jim Crow in Florida by GOP election thieves, Bush's astounding vacuity, the pain and desperation a mother feels when her child is lost for false reasons ... (it's truly remarkable how much of the Bush administration's treachery Moore was able to cram into a two-hour flick) ... but, yes, it was all available pre-F 9/11 for those diligent enough to look for it.
And there's more that didn't make it into the movie. For instance, did you know Cheney's personal choice to become the next Shah of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, was caught transferring crucial intelligence on to Iran? (And better yet, he was getting those top-secret tidbits from somebody in Cheney's neo-con corps.) Or the ample proof that the California energy crisis was being orchestrated out of Enron corporate headquarters--the top floor of which was nest to some of Bush's bestest Texas buddies? Or how, even as we talk (about whether a movie is any good or not), Republicans are resisting the demands of concerned citizens that the new electronic voting machines in Florida and elsewhere produce a verifiable record for the up-coming election.
What it all means is, this black epic is unfolding even faster than Michael Moore can keep up with it.
But even now, after Moore has put such a volume of damning information into a coherent enough narrative that even Barbara Bush's slowest son could follow along, the media sources from which most Americans get their news seem more inclined to examine the messenger rather than the message. On a Web site database which provides accompanying movie criticism (www.imdb. com), there are listed 124 reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11 (that number doesn't even include reviews from such founts of cultural illumination as The Idaho Statesman or my beloved Boise Weekly ... go figure) and of the 10 or so I read, the authors spend as much time on Moore's personality and his film-making style as they do on the allegations he makes. (Obviously, we can't expect Roger Ebert or Gene Shalit to go out and confirm, for instance, if it's true that Saudi Arabian business interests have invested billions in Bush & Sons, Inc., but one would assume the question would be of some passing interest to the likes of Wolf Blitzer and Tom Brokaw. Or am I expecting too much?)
Within this bulk of reviewer opinion, Moore is being accused of arrogance, genius, bully tactics, innovative technique, being a blow-hard like Rush Limbaugh, being the Left's long-awaited answer to Rush Limbaugh, putting too much of himself into the movie, not putting enough of himself in the movie, shoddy ambush journalism, astute investigative reporting, no objectivity, telling it like it is, propagandizing, exposing the facts, inaccuracy, accuracy, lies, truth ... you name it, Moore's done it. Even such a juicy detail as the comic/tragic vision of Bush sitting like a wax toad on a log for seven minutes (after being told the country is under attack) could generate no consensus. One critic called it the low point of the movie, while another called it the high point.
But wait. When I started this piece, my intent was to review the reviews--maybe to counter a few of those punches that have been directed at both Moore's personal style and professional integrity. BW's own Nicholas Collias got me started when he said in his review of two weeks hence that "If American audiences still need (Moore's) cheap self-congratulatory tricks and inappropriate multimedia pastiche in order to digest what would otherwise be a crucial political message, then shame on us." I intended to answer my colleague, "Nicholas, buddy, you've been around long enough to know that a good many Americans need cheap and inappropriate tricks to digest damn near anything. If it were any other way, we wouldn't have to bother ourselves with a cheap, self-congratulating trickster like George Bush in the first place. Right?"
At least, that's what I might have said, had I finished mining that vein.
But about halfway through, I realized I was making the same mistake all those reviewers were making--that is, taking my attentions off the real villain in this sordid narrative and overly-focusing on the narrator. Even if only a fraction of what Moore accuses the Bush administration of is true, who should we be dissecting here? Think about it ... Michael Moore can lie and propagandize 'til Iraq is a free and stable nation, and not a single person will get killed because of it.
Bush, in the other hand ...
Not that I would suggest that Nicholas Collias or Roger Ebert or Gene Shalit or anyone else should stop reviewing Moore's movie and keep their opinions to themselves. Heavens no! Any excuse to keep people talking about this subject is a good excuse.