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Michael Moore and His Films
Monday, 20 August 2007 14:48
by Jimmy Montague

I went to see "Sicko" a few weeks ago. Here are my impressions:

Michael Moore comes across to me as a physically repulsive, personally obnoxious individual. I think he struck gold when he learned to turn crassness into an asset. He is a perfectly tasteless, imperfect genius whose tastelessness adds enormous power to the statements he makes and at the same time detracts from the overall power of his films.

Moore's movies (I've seen only "Fahrenheit 911" and "Sicko.") are a cross between brilliant satiric bludgeons like Peter Sellers' "The Magic Christian" and such icky, sob-sister stuff as might be dreamed up by the likes of Barbara Walters if Barbara Walters sat down on her pity pot and got all fucked up on Quaaludes. Moore is most effective when he shocks me or when he makes me feel ashamed of myself and of the fact that I'm an American. Moore is least effective when he loses control of himself (not to imply that he ever actually has control of himself) and leaves me in my seat with the infuriating realization (which may or may not be accurate) that it's all contrived and he is playing me for a sucker.

When Moore is effective, I'm outraged by the fact that a poor American woman with a respiratory problem can buy the inhalers she needs in Havana for three-and-a-half Cuban pesos each (that's five cents, American), whereas she has to pay $120 each (American) for the exact same inhalers when she buys them in the States. The revelation makes me want to drive to Washington, D.C., with a bucket of tar and some feathers.

When Moore loses control of himself, he takes some American 911 workers to a Cuban firehouse and films a brotherly love fest between the trim and fit Cuban firefighters and their fat, dumpy, American "peers." Moore is so in love with the irony he hopes to strike that he screws up his editing and lets me see the understandably cynical Cubans snicker up their sleeves at what is obviously a scripted encounter. I wonder then if Moore actually told me the truth about the cost of those inhalers. The question makes me want to drive to Flint, MI, with a bucket of tar and some feathers.

A Michael Moore film seems to me like the guy who is the life of the party until he has one too many drinks. Before he was making everybody laugh. Then he had one too many and suddenly nobody's laughing because he's no longer funny. He's just a drunk making an ass of himself and he's too drunk to know it. He ends up puking on his shoes.

That's my impression of Michael Moore's films and that's what "Sicko" was like for me. I wanted to see "Sicko" because I knew it would tell me things that every American ought to know. I didn't want to see "Sicko" because I knew that, before the end, I'd get sick of Michael Moore. I was right on both counts.

On the positive side, "Sicko" is definitely worth a look. Michael Moore's tastelessness may or may not make you sick, but "Sicko" will teach you an awful lot of awful stuff about America's awful healthcare industry. The film clips of Dick Nixon are absolutely priceless. You'll be glad you went to see "Sicko." Sorta.

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Comments (2)add comment

a guest said:

Are you an intern?
It's amazing to me how any real coverage of the healthcare crisis in America must come after the obligatory commentary about Michael Moore's weight, hair, hometown, other movies, alleged motives, storytelling style, etc. etc. etc. It is so obnoxiously tired, so predictable and frankly reeks of professional jealousy and insecurity. I challenge this publication, or any newsroom in this country, to create Google Alerts for both "Michael Moore" and "single-payer healthcare" and tabulate the number of ranting "he's a loudmouth fatboy" stories v. the number of insightful healthcare stories. When you're through, come to my house in Flint and read me your findings. Don't worry about the tar; we'll have plenty waiting.
August 24, 2007
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Jimmy Montague
No. I'm not an intern.
No. I'm not an intern. I'm just a guy who reads a lot and writes a little. Much of my stuff is posted on my blog, The Cyanide Hole.

I can't say I know what any real coverage of the healthcare crisis in America looks like. That's because I don't read or write about America's healthcare crisis. I did write to describe what I think and how I feel about Michael Moore and His Films.

What I wrote is called "criticism." Criticism as a genre has been around for some hundred and fifty years, ever since someone invented entertainment journalism. Criticism is the poor man's form of the academic review, and millions of people enjoy reading it.

Criticism necessarily includes the writers' impressions of performances by actors and directors. Actors and directors who don't want to be discussed by film critics would therefore be wise not to make any films. Another way to look at it is to say that, for those who choose to make movies, being criticized is the price of bread. People who work in films generally are wise enough to see that point and do not, therefore, complain very much. They take their revenge by laughing all the way to the bank.

Michael Moore in particular should not object to being criticized. Aside from the fact that neither he nor his films are perfect, he should be smart enough to see that he himself is a critic. Film criticism is to Michael Moore's films as Michael Moore's films are to the rest of society. Michael Moore cannot object to being criticized without being guilty of hypocrisy.

If there's any tar waiting for critics in Flint, MI, therefore, that tar should be kept in Mr. Moore's personal bathtub.
August 25, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

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