Movie Review: 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Offers a Cogent Distillation of Michael Moore's Life of Muckraking | Movie+TV Reviews | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Movie Review: 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Offers a Cogent Distillation of Michael Moore's Life of Muckraking


Published September 26, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

It's all Gwen Stefani's fault.

Well, most of the country's current mess, anyway. Leave it to Michael Moore to connect such improbable dots. But he does. Apparently, he just doesn't connect with moviegoers anymore.

If you missed the memo on Stefani, here's what happened: On September 5, the Hollywood Reporter ran an interview with Moore, the 64-year-old muckraker. In it, he speculated that the real reason Donald Trump announced plans for a presidential run was his discovery that NBC was paying Stefani more for coaching on "The Voice" than he was getting for hosting "The Apprentice."

The disgruntled Donald wanted to show the network how popular he was. Instead, he wound up showing it how racist he was, launching a Trump Tower rant that included those infamous lines about Mexicans being rapists. This time, NBC executives were the ones who got to say, "You're fired."

Moore is a natural showman. In his bones, he had zero doubt that juicy bit of supposition about Trump's motive would generate buzz for his latest documentary. But it was Trump who got all the talk that day. September 5 was also the day the New York Times ran the anonymous op-ed by one of his high-ranking officials.

No matter. If you missed Moore's theory then, you can catch it now in the opening moments of Fahrenheit 11/9. The director's latest is the movie he was born to make. It's a greatest hits compilation of signature themes.

Moore's mission (not exactly a spoiler alert) is to diagnose the malady he believes afflicts American democracy today and threatens its survival. The list of symptoms reads like a trip down memory lane — or down his IMDb page.

In 11/9, Moore submits that no administration has done more in less time to stoke corporate greed at the expense of working people (Roger & Me, The Big One). He reminds us gun violence continues to take a terrible toll as public servants take money from the NRA and look the other way (Bowling for Columbine). He traces a line from the fake evidence of WMD that George W. used to justify unjust wars (Fahrenheit 9/11) to the fake everything Trump uses every day.

But there's more. Into his tapestry of callousness and corruption, the filmmaker weaves the argument that studies prove most Americans are more progressive than Democratic party leaders want to admit. That most citizens support, for example, universal health care (Sicko), equal pay and flexible maternity leave (Where to Invade Next), even government-subsidized jobs (Capitalism: A Love Story). If the party wants to make America great again, he suggests, it should listen more closely to its base.

Moore locates the doomsayer's mandatory ray of hope in movements started by young people across the country (Slacker Uprising — nope, I didn't see it, either). Among the picture's high points are scenes featuring the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting survivors, who invite the director into their secret headquarters. Congress should just amend the Constitution and put these kids in charge already. Everybody would be better off.

Anyone who loves Sen. Bernie Sanders will be brought to a boil by the film's account of his campaign's scuttling by Dem puppet masters. You'd never guess Moore backed Hillary Clinton (Michael Moore in TrumpLand — nope, I didn't see it, either).

Perhaps, though, the most pressing question raised by this movie in the wake of its opening weekend tanking is how the guy who warned us Trump would win suddenly became white noise. I suspect Michael Moore would say even he didn't see that coming.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Fahrenheit 11/9"