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Fahrenheit 9/11

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</script></div>{/googleAds}Here is the truth of Michael Moore. He is an editing genius, a crafty craftsman of the cut and splice, a mildy witty filmmaker, and most of all, a showman; he's the PT Barnum of the political circus. Step right on up, folks, and he'll show you things nature forgot about!

But that truth is double-edged. His circus-like mentality brings a host of imagery that neither denies nor truly supports his conclusions, which in a way is his intent. But it's a self-defeating ethic that only works because of the ignorance of the unwashed masses. He dazzles with implication, helping us piece together a shaky premise by repeating key concepts in close proximity: Saudi Arabia. Bush family. The bin Ladens. It's all very dark sounding, with talk of oil companies like Arbusto and Halliburton getting contracts to build pipelines into Afghanistan, and Saudi oil money flowing in to prop up the failed companies George W Bush started. Though he never says it outright, Moore implies that the Bush family stood to greatly profit from the September 11 attack because they owned or were on the boards of several high-profile defense and oil companies, and because an attack like that would trigger a natural defense response that the American people would buy into. Where that conclusion will lead the viewer is highly suspect, yet reads like a boilerplate Moore-ism. If this is the end result of 'investigative journalism', then I expect to see the four Horsement of the Apocalypse shortly.

Remember in Bowling for Columbine when Moore asserted that the media was responsible for hyping the fear that caused gun violence to be so prevalent in America? Here, he strings together a group of news bites and interviews that, when taken as a whole, indicate that--gasp!--people are afraid of terrorists! And who is to blame for this? Not the terrorists. It's the government--George Bush's government of money men that are responsible for the fear. But even here Moore uses conflicting coverage to make his point, showing on one hand Bush encouraging people to get out and enjoy life, while on the other hand showing clips of Dick Cheney warning of the terrorist threat. In Moore's world, apparently the American public is paralyzed by these varying messages.

In another segment, Moore implies that the all-volunteer military is actually a system-wide exploitation of black Americans, which I'm sure would please the black pioneers who fought for the right to fight for their country back in the Civil War. But don't think about it too much--Moore certainly doesn't want you to, for he moves briskly along to his next talking point. Sleight of hand, ladies and gents! Now you see it, now you don't!

Moore asks several times what Bush was thinking during the seven minutes after he heard about the 9/11 attack. At first he says Bush sits there and does nothing because he doesn't know what to do, and doesn't have anyone to tell him what to do. But later in the film Moore says that Bush and his cronies had a master plan all along, and that the connections they had or still have to Sauds and the bin Ladens implied that they had an agenda all along. What is Moore selling here? Is Bush the idiot or the evil genius? Moore wants it both ways, while providing conflicting facts to prove one or more differing conclusions when it's convenient for him to do so.

Moore insists that the War on Terror is nothing but a front to keep Americans frightened and off balance, so they'll be more willing to give up their rights. You know, those rights. Like the right to create films that criticize the Bush administration as harshly as Moore does here. Or the right to harass Congressmen on the street, which he does in one of the more aggrandizing moments of the film.

Moore finds one man from a weight club who got questioned--not arrested or even detained--but questioned by the FBI for talking about 9/11 and Afghanistan and frames him as an example of the decreased freedoms normal citizens now possess. His main complaint was that the FBI knocked on his door while he was taking a nap, which woke him up. "How rude!" says Michael, and by rude he must mean "unconstitutional and another plot by the Bush and bin Ladens to further castrate American freedom".

Much like the clowns Moore dug up for Bowling for Columbine, this type of sideshow act diminishes Moore's effectiveness, despite the valid questions behind the charade. So you have a beef with the Patriot Act, fine. But is it fair to denounce it because it inconveniences a few people? If the president and his men use tactics that are dishonest or misleading, Moore's unwillingness to face that opposition on level ground is just as disengenuous. As Bowling for Columbine showed, disengenuity is Moore's modus operandi.

Moore is most honest when he removes himself from his onscreen editing tactics and allows the camera's subjects to speak for themselves. He capitalizes on a woman's pain as she recounts how her oldest son died in Baghdad; later she breaks down in front of the White House--the juxtaposition is perfectly cast as we are left with the image of the bastion of power where the simpleton genius president pulls strings to call up the mighty forces of Halliburton Oil and military defense contracting to attack the innocent and helpless paradise that was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Again, however, the effect is disengenuous, and his craven use of this woman's pain as a vehicle for attempting political regime change is disgusting and irresponsible.

In the final moments of the film, the audience cheered and clapped, and I was left with the feeling that I had just witnessed an impressive magic show in the world's largest tent ring. Politics makes for spectacle like the urgings of hunger. Like any magic show, Moore's spectacle is two parts illusion, one part showmanship. Moore excels at the production of both.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 1.85:1

Subtitles: English.

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Featurettes:
o The Release of Fahrenheit 9/11: Looks at the release of the film from the Cannes film festival to it US theatrical release.
o Eyewitness Account From Samarra, Iraq: Includes footage of the American raids in Samarra Iraq.
o Lila Lipscomb at Washington DC Premiere: Includes a speech by, Lila Lipscomb, a mother who lost her son to the fighting in Iraq.
o The People of Iraq on the Eve of Invasion: Interviews with Iraqis conducted before the war.
o Outside Abu Graib Prison: Looks at the mistreatment of Iraqi POWs by American soldiers.
o More From Corporal Abdul Henderson: Interview with an American soldier about his tour of duty.
o Condoleeza Rice: "I Asked You What The title Was": Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission.
o Bush After his "Visit" With the 9/11 Commission: George W's afterthoughts of his 9/11 commission testimony.

Number of discs: 1


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