Sunday, August 01, 2004

The New Yorker: NANOOK AND ME

The New Yorker: "Whatever you think of Michael Moore’s immensely satisfying movie about the awful Bush Administration and its destructive policies—and reasonable people can disagree, of course—one thing that cannot be said about “Fahrenheit 9/11” is that it is an outlaw from the documentary tradition. “The documentary tradition” sounds like a grand phrase for a genre that includes everything from “Nanook of the North” to “Girls Gone Wild.” There’s no doubt that it’s an eclectic form. The “Documentary” section shelves Michael Moore next to National Geographic, movies about bad Presidents next to movies about butterflies, bodybuilders, and Eskimos. These movies do have one thing in common, though: they show you what was not intended for you to see. The essential documentary impulse is the impulse to catch life off camera, to film what was not planned to happen, or what would have happened whether someone was there to film it or not. That’s why people make documentaries, and why people go to see them. It’s a genre founded on a paradox."



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