Wednesday, August 11, 2004

F911 opens in Japan on August 14 : "Flawed but powerful"

W. Blake Gray Special to The Daily Yomiuri

Fahrenheit 9/11 (Japan title: Kashi 9/11) Three and a half stars (out of five)

Dir: Michael Moore

Featuring: George W. Bush,George Bush, Dick Cheney

In the United States, Fahrenheit 9/11 has been as polarizing as the president it attacks. Bush supporters have protested the film without ever seeing it. Meanwhile, anti-Bush hordes, cheering loudly in spots, quickly pushed it past director Michael Moore's previous effort, Bowling for Columbine, to make it the biggest-grossing documentary ever within just one week.

The most neutral authority on Fahrenheit 9/11 was the international jury (only one member was French) at the Cannes Film Festival, which awarded the Palme d'Or to a documentary for only the second time. The first was Le Monde du Silence by Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle in 1956. Cannes jury President Quentin Tarantino told film critic Roger Ebert, "This prize was not for politics. It was because it was the best film."

With apologies to Tarantino, it's impossible to see this film outside of politics. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a political statement on the order of Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense, which helped spark the American Revolution. Finely crafted with a sharp sense of humor, it's a convincing two-hour-plus cry for regime change in Washington. And as such, it's a lightning rod for the strength of democracy.

This is Moore's fifth full-length release, and easily his best. It's far more focused than the interesting but meandering Columbine, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary last year. Much of the footage used is emotionally stirring, yet Moore shows welcome delicacy in his handling of the terrorist attacks referred to by the title.

(click on the title for the whole article)

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