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What did you watch this week?
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.22.2004 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6/14 ? 6/20/04

Whispering Corridors (Park, South Korea 1998). Portentous ghost story that I found utterly preposterous and ineffective.

A Time for Drunken Horses (Ghobadi, Iran 2000). The sentimentality is as thick as any Hollywood weepie, but at least some of the images are memorably surreal: Smuggled tires rolling down a snowy hill; horses sipping vodka to brave the cold; a sickly dwarf traveling in a saddlebag; drunken horses refusing to rise.

Heart of Dragon (Hung, Hong Kong 1985). Sammo Hung gives a ?serious? performance as a cognitively-disabled adult, but his idea of playing ?retarded? is to wear overalls, play kids? games, suck on candy, and neglect his hair. It might be one of the most grotesquely insensitive performances I?ve ever seen.

Along Came Polly (Hamburg, USA 2004). Sometimes opposites attract, sure. But has this movie proven to us that these two opposites have been attracted? I never believed in the central romance, but at least the movie never treats Ben Stiller?s character as a square.

Eurotrip (Schaffer, USA 2004). Rarely have I seen a childish, slapdash teen comedy so staunchly devoted to the principles of hedonism--this is a movie that faithfully believes in the soul-cheering power of "crazy European sex," drugs, alcohol, violence, lies, and scorn. Most repulsive is a lengthy scene set in the Vatican that qualifies as sacrilegious, as Catholic iconography is mocked, set on fire, and otherwise desecrated. The movie also has utter contempt for most of Europe--in particular, the poverty of Eastern Europe is snickered at with special insensitivity.

50 First Dates (Segal, USA 2004). Crude, interminable, and unconvincing. Neither Sandler nor Barrymore even begin to approach the warmth, complexity, and nuance required to pull off this saccharine gimmick.

Spartan (Mamet, USA 2004). Perhaps more purely cinematic than previous Mamet shell games, but his laconic rhythms feel off, and Val Kilmer seems lost.

Troy (Peterson, USA 2004). Fatuous, but it grew on me a little. If, like me, you resist tales that venerate the Homeric notion of heroism, you can still luxuriate in the strong colors and notice Brad Pitt's brooding about how meaningless valor and great deeds ultimately become. That silly contradiction sums up the entire picture: It's about the folly and futility of war, but also about how cool it looks, too.

The Way We Laughed (Amelio, Italy 1998). Amelio gains emotional suspense from his gimmick structure?the movie is divided into six segments, each representing one year in the lives of two brothers?and he floats on currents of mystery and drama, but most of all, an evocation of sibling affection and sacrifice.

The Terminal (Spielberg, USA 2004). There are a few asides directed at the absurdities of Homeland Security, but I wish Spielberg had gone further into political satire--attacking how the US routinely strips foreign visitors of their dignity--or at least had used the terminal as a less syrupy microcosm of American life. As it stands, it's a romantic fantasy with minor conviction, with snappy acting and Spielberg's usual visual polish and shortcut editing.

The Stepford Wives (Oz, USA 2004). Toothless yet harmless. The original was a black satire that functioned first as a horror film; this new update is a horror film that functions first as a droll, colorful, mildly diverting prank.

Careful (Maddin, Canada 1992). In a 19th-century Alpine village, the residents live hushed lives, trying not to stir an avalanche. Whispering becomes their mode of being, and the unspoken becomes Maddin's subject. One family in particular is haunted by secrets: The father is locked in the attic because he assaulted his own daughter, and one of the sons is disturbed to find himself staring at his mother. (After fantasizing about her, he presses his lips against a burning coal, hacks off his fingers, and leaps to his death.) Maddin lampoons silent melodrama and German Expressionism, but it's a one-joke affair so arch, so stylized, and so distanced that it grows wearying.

Eric
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matt header
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 623
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: 06.23.2004 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really remember what I put on here the last time I posted, so I'll just jot down whatever pops into my mind:

Bad Lieutenant (Ferrara) The acclaim this film has received blows my mind: I thought it was a truly awful film, although it has Keitel's performance to recommend it. What does it have to say, other than this character is a truly immoral bastard? Overwrought allusions to Jesus' crucifixion and the absense of religion in a shallow modern existence are not just laughable in execution, they are even more gloomy than they sound in writing: lengthy depictions of Keitel shooting up or masturbating on a teenage girl's car did not give me the sense that Bad Lieutenant was brave or honest; it seemed, instead, to be so aimless that Ferrara can't think of anything better to do with his camera. D+

Fahrenheit 9/11 (Moore) Saw an employee screening of this at the theater I work at. The faults that Moore has are still present here, which is unsurprising; but this may be his most mature, somber work yet, noteworthy as much because it displays the anguish and frustration at living the current United States, as because of its impressive rant against George W. To be sure, Moore becomes subjective and didactic a bit too often, drawing parallels that are stretching the role of the reliable narrator a bit too far. But the film struck me in all the right ways: it's doubtlessly emotional, and has perhaps the most poignant and sensitive depiction of the 9/11 attacks themselves that I've ever seen on cinema; it's extremely convincing, as Moore generally suppresses his own voiceover to present information that, honestly, is already out there and available, and simply connects the dots; and it's sadly important, since there have been so few responses to the 9/11 attacks made in America since they occurred. Will it change "conservative" minds? I doubt it, but maybe - the sight of a US soldier singing "burn motherf----- burn" as he guns down Iraqi civilians, biased as it may be, is nearly impossible to shrug off as "subjective documentation." B+

The Naked Kiss (Fuller) My first Samuel Fuller excursion, and damn, it's fun. There's a hypocritical sense of chauvinistic wholesomeness running through all of it: we are supposed to gain satisfaction from our heroine shoving dirty money into a hooker's mouth and beating her with a purse, but Fuller presents taboo subjects (child molestation, prostitution, etc.) with such flair that we're supposed to be enticed by immorality as well. If we look past that glaring contradiction - and are in the mood to enjoy the sort of purple prose that Fuller and his balls-to-the-wall crime caper colleagues were known for - then The Naked Kiss is a fascinating artifact on the border of yesterday's innocence and today's sensationalism. B

Gentleman's Agreement
(Kazan) Gregory Peck poses as a Jew to experience anti-Semitism and document it for his newspaper. There's something awfully condescending about this "rescue mission," in which Peck miraculously "comes to the aid" of the prejudiced Jewish masses to preach tolerance and acceptance to all. The cinematography is gorgeous, but there's simply too much didacticism; even more bristling patches of dialogue are deprived of almost all of their fuel because the arguments are so simplistic. C

City of God
(Meirelles) Meirelles knows how to make an intense, blistering action movie, using sleek style and relentless special effects to portray a world consumed by anger and desperation. (No wonder the movie was so popular stateside.) I also think, though, that there's some real interesting stuff here: nothing approaching the violent vitality of, say, Mean Streets, but it's a fine example of brawny storytelling. (It's tough and relentless without, I think, appearing misogynistic.) It also has a perfectly logical ending: our hero's personal triumph allows us to take relief in some semblance of hope, but the strong indication that the cycle of violence will simply continue does not allow us to shrug off the events as simple cinematic showboating. As much as I liked it, it's not near as good as its documentary counterpart, Bus 174. B

The Terminal (Spielberg) My full-length review (with some typos) can be found at www.uwmleader.com, somewhere underneath A&E: Movies.[/b]
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
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Location: Port Washington, WI

PostPosted: 06.24.2004 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love Actually (Curtis) - Simply put this move was just a well made romantic comedy. Although incoherent at times and leaving characters for extended periods of time before returning to their story, the story moved well. kept my interested and was just well put together. Not a terrific movie, but definetly not a bad movie. A joyful homage to finding the happines in love and life, and even managed to touch on the hardships of love, something many romantic comedies often forget. B

The Son (Dardenne) - Finally a revenge movie that does more than just focus on the characters plight for revenge. It truly evokes the human aspect of it as you see the father try to fight his demons and the torture he endures throughout. Especially, how he is constantly trying to forgive and overcome and help the student, but still cannot over come what the child did to his life, marriage, and emotioal stability. A
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.24.2004 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mfritschel wrote:
The Son (Dardenne) - Finally a revenge movie that does more than just focus on the characters plight for revenge. It truly evokes the human aspect of it as you see the father try to fight his demons and the torture he endures throughout. Especially, how he is constantly trying to forgive and overcome and help the student, but still cannot over come what the child did to his ****, marriage, and emotioal stability. A


I like this one, too.

Eric
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.24.2004 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
The Naked Kiss (Fuller) My first Samuel Fuller excursion, and damn, it's fun. There's a hypocritical sense of chauvinistic wholesomeness running through all of it: we are supposed to gain satisfaction from our heroine shoving dirty money into a hooker's mouth and beating her with a purse, but Fuller presents taboo subjects (child molestation, prostitution, etc.) with such flair that we're supposed to be enticed by immorality as well. If we look past that glaring contradiction - and are in the mood to enjoy the sort of purple prose that Fuller and his balls-to-the-wall crime caper colleagues were known for - then The Naked Kiss is a fascinating artifact on the border of yesterday's innocence and today's sensationalism. [b]B


The Naked Kiss is my favorite Fuller, just ahead of Pickup on South Street and Shock Corridor. In the opening scene, Towers beats a man down, takes $75, and adjusts her wig. The intricacies of that moment are only revealed later, after she arrives at a small town two years later planning to renounce her past as a call girl. It's an overheated, lurid melodrama, I suppose, but it has strong currents of romance, drama, and suspense--all wrapped up in themes of forgiveness, judgmentalism, moral hypocrisy, and second chances. Fuller structures the film beautifully, revealing information in a way to maximize surprises (the revelation concerning the town's leading bachelor remain shocking even today) and mixes his "purple" approach with refreshing tenderness.

Eric
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Veri
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Joined: 26 Jun 2004
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PostPosted: 06.26.2004 1:11 am    Post subject: what did you watch this week Reply with quote

I watched on TV last night Vanilla Sky. I really don't understand what is the bad press about this movie really about it. As far as I am concern, the movie has a very good spiritual message. Tom Cruise performance is good and Diaz is doing very well also. Penelope Cruz is terrible in this movie though...
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 06.27.2004 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6/21 ? 6/27/04

The Weather Underground (Green and Siegel, USA 2003). Engrossing documentary about the radical group responsible for a series of domestic bombings during the Vietnam era. What?s remarkable is how the movie neither judges nor romanticizes these revolutionaries.

Club Dread (Chandrasekhar, USA 2004). As a comedy troupe, Broken Lizard maintains a deadpan style that's tough to maintain?they might be capable of a truly classic comedy, if they were only able to write witty jokes to accompany that masterfully feigned sincerity.

Fighting Caravans (Brower and Burton, USA 1931). One of the earliest sound Westerns, featuring bad acting by Gary Cooper.

Memento Mori (Kim and Min, South Korea 1999). Set in the same all-girls private school a few years after the events of Whispering Corridors, this new tale is a complete departure from the first film and a vast improvement. Here, the school environment takes center stage--really, this is a horror picture about the horror of being a teenage girl--and the evocation is totally convincing. The story involves a young girl who discovers a diary, and learns that two of her classmates are lesbian lovers. When one of them falls from the roof, she tries to discern--we're helped with non-linear flashbacks--whether it was suicide or murder. Best of all, the movie uses its horror premise as a metaphor for how the end of a relationship can sometimes feel like a form of death.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (Bowser, USA 2003). I prefer this chronicle of Hollywood in the Seventies over the more stately A Decade Under the Influence, primarily because the interviews are juicier, the focus is tighter, and the backstories are franker--this documentary doesn't downplay the role of sex, and especially drugs, in the making and unmaking of this era.

Secret Window (Koepp, USA 2004). The first two acts are intensely enjoyable hokum, as the writer tries to keep control of both the situation and his marriage, but the third act resolves itself with predictable and eye-rolling revelations--the metaphors for writer's block and writer's guilt are rather cornball. Still, Depp kicks the movie up a notch.



Fahrenheit 9/11 (Moore, USA 2004). "The temperature where freedom burns!" is the tagline for Moore?s Cannes prizewinner, and the movie operates almost exclusively at that hysterical pitch. As a mild fan of Moore--and no fan of Bush--I was fully prepared to groove on his wavelength but I was put off almost immediately: Of course it?s amusing to witness Wolfowitz spit-polishing his comb, but honestly, what does that image tell us about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this administration? Moore regularly relies on such childish tactics?he regularly reduces his editorializing to name-calling, which is only the first of his propaganda techniques that had me squirming. Whereas Moore brought real inquisitive searching to Bowling for Columbine, this new picture is less concerned with deep digging than with simplistic mockery. As a polemicist, Moore raises vital issues--Bush's links to Saudi money, the bin Laden family, Enron, Halliburton, and a culture of fear--but he consistently addresses them not with sound political discourse but with cheap emotionalism, juvenile mockery, blatant selective editing, and, worst of all, dubious inferences.

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 06.27.2004 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
Fahrenheit 9/11 (Moore) To be sure, Moore becomes subjective and didactic a bit too often, drawing parallels that are stretching the role of the reliable narrator a bit too far... Moore generally suppresses his own voiceover to present information that, honestly, is already out there and available, and simply connects the dots... the sight of a US soldier singing "burn motherf----- burn" as he guns down Iraqi civilians, biased as it may be, is nearly impossible to shrug off as "subjective documentation." B+


For me, the problem isn't that Moore draws parallels and makes inferences, it's that the gauze he uses to connect the dots is dismayingly thin and rarely persuasive. Generally, I felt that he offered interpretations that might be accurate, without offering any reasons for me to accept his versions as certainly accurate.

I was willing to take Fahrenheit 9/11 seriously only as entertainment, not as political investigation. Is that good enough? To my mind, we ought to expect artists like Moore to raise the level of national discourse, not dumb it down. Fahrenheit 9/11 makes serious allegations, and what America deserves is a serious exploration of those allegations, not a superficial personal vendetta waged by a clown convinced he?s a soothsayer. I don?t want a Rush Limbaugh of the left?to accept that kind of figure merely because he speaks for ?our? side is the height of hypocrisy. Moore has always flirted with that line, but this is the first time I was absolutely unwilling to follow him across it.

As for the war-hungry G.I., you are correct that the image is impossible to shrug off. Moore is passing off a broad, isolated swipe as incisive journalism, and to overlook that propaganda?to shrug it off?is almost as dangerous as believing every word uttered by the Bush administration. In Moore's simplified, trickle-down world, Bush is the single causal agent responsible for each act of torture committed by US troops; his pop psychology claims that Bush's unethical behavior abstractly trickles down to the ground troops, allowing them to justify their atrocities. But then how does Moore explain the many documented cases of humane treatment and altruism committed by US troops? If Moore is willing to blame the torture on Bush policies, by the same process mustn?t he also have to credit Bush policies for the multitude of kindnesses performed by some troops? (I?d argue both assertions are on a slippery slope, but Moore clearly thinks he?s passing down great wisdom.)

If Bush has been derelict in his duties as a politician?and I?m convinced he has?Moore has been equally derelict in his duties as a journalist and as an artist. We might argue that with this film Moore functions not as a journalist but as a satirist, and I would be willing to accept most of this material as welcome satire--if it wasn't also coupled with serious accusations made in clear, earnest sincerity.

Eric
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matt header
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 06.28.2004 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, this is going to be a meaty discussion!

Quote:
honestly, what does that image tell us about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this administration? Moore regularly relies on such childish tactics?he regularly reduces his editorializing to name-calling, which is only the first of his propaganda techniques that had me squirming. Whereas Moore brought real inquisitive searching to Bowling for Columbine, this new picture is less concerned with deep digging than with simplistic mockery. As a polemicist, Moore raises vital issues--Bush's links to Saudi money, the bin Laden family, Enron, Halliburton, and a culture of fear--but he consistently addresses them not with sound political discourse but with cheap emotionalism, juvenile mockery, blatant selective editing, and, worst of all, dubious inferences.



True, Moore uses some mighty goofy images to call Bush and his cohorts names and portray them as ineffective buffoons, but I think he buoys them with real contrasting evidence. He calls Bush a worthless vacationer, but he's right; Bush did take more vacations than any other president in history, at a time when he should have been worker harder than any other president in history. He makes an allusion to Bonanza because Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Blair resemble trigger-happy cowboys smoking out Osama Bin Laden, but he's right: Afghanistan was a brief mission to appease the US public, a gratuitous in-and-out charade that had the happy ending and climactic buildup of classic TV. His mockery of his subjects is broad and harsh, but real evidence provides support to that mockery, making it appropriate: we also have real, raw footage of government executives critiquing Bush's orders to target Iraq singularly and practically ignore Afghanistan, we have real raw correlations between Bush and corporate oil companies and tons of hard evidence to implicate that the war was nothing more than an economic charade. There is investigation behind Moore's tomfoolery, and that paradox between incendiary political revelation and affable mudslinging is what makes Fahrenheit 9/11 work as a whole. It's hard to deny the bullheadedness and ignorance of Bush's regime after the film, and yes, part of it is because Moore's namecalling is of such a direct and relentless nature, but more of it is because he allows us to ponder the mistakes Bush has made. Moore calls his subjects names because they deserve to be called such, and he shows us why they deserve to be called such. And it irks me that people criticize this as propaganda; why don't we take a look at 95% of all media coverage of the war since 2001 and see if that's propaganda, see if the media has allowed any images of caskets covered in American flags, any images of Iraqi civilians being killed, any criticism of Bush's tactics and ponderance of the military's tactics until recently? That's propaganda as well, and instead of Moore's propaganda, which exaggerates and draws a broad outline of the truth in a biased manner, the conservative media's propaganda hides the truth and pulls wool over our eyes in order to appease us. What kind of propaganda is more dangerous? Mockery is at work here, but I'd hardly call it simplistic; can we not find onscreen evidence to support his many incidences of mockery? The emotionalism is often maudlin, I agree, and he edits selectively, but what documentarian doesn't edit selectively? Once again, we return to the question, is the editing any more blatantly selective than what we, the American public, have been considered ready to see? Moore sets out to portray Bush as a buffoon and selectively edits to do so, but the stated facts that Iraq has never attacked US soil, that America is heavily tied to Osama Bin Laden's family and has oil interests there, and that Bush's regime was highly interested in fostering paranoia in the homeland are truthful. So what if Moore shows these instances of truth and not other instances of truth - isn't this something that we should see, evidence that our President is not someone who is noble or strong-willed enough to lead the most powerful nation in the world? As far as the cheap emotionalism goes, I found it more often powerful than cheap. Especially the depiction of the Twin Towers explosion, which was one of the most intense and even respectful depictions I've seen in the media, but also Lila's reading of her son's letter, which all in one voiceover reveals a mother proud of her family's military heritage realizing the shame and loneliness her son is going through by participating in a pointless war. That is emotional, and that is selective editing, but it's also strong support for Moore's argument, and should we criticize him for trying to persuade us of a very relevant, very important argument? I'd say about half the film is sound political discourse, and if some of it is on a selective, broad, emotional level, or if some of it draws inferences that may or may not be true but are heavily implicated, so be it: I wouldn't call that propaganda so much as passionate, persuasive editorial filmmaking, and I don't consider Moore juvenile for incorporating anger and frustration into his arguments.

Quote:
Generally, I felt that he offered interpretations that might be accurate, without offering any reasons for me to accept his versions as certainly accurate.



I can't agree with you there. Let's take the instance of the oil pipeline that runs throughout Iraq, the second most vital oil supply in the world. Moore believes that Bush orchestrated the whole war to gain control of this supply and to appease his corporate cohorts, who wanted to make loads of oil profits. Moore may be wrong. But the evidence is outstanding. Cheney used to head Halliburton, which would seriously benefit from possession of the oil pipeline. Bush is great friends with James Bath, a head of another corporation that would heavily profit from possession of the oil pipeline. His corporate history is extensive and beguiling: his whole life he's been embroiled in corporate interests. He was raised in oil industries and on the golf course. He stopped 9/11 commissions, Moore believes because Bush did not want them to reaffirm that the source of the attacks was Afghanistan. He orders his own agents to concentrate directly on Iraq, which has never attacked the US and which did not have confirmed evidence of "weapons of mass destruction." Is all of this evidence coincidental, and did Moore selectively edit to draw an untrue correlation? Maybe. But as an investigate journalist drawing the lines, to me that is persuasive and thick, too in-depth to ignore. Moore often depicts these corporate ties as a bunch of goons goofing around with too much money and time on their hands, and if the accusation is unfounded, the substance behind it is not: Bush is a largely corporate-influenced president, and Moore exaggerates this truth to expound upon and vent his own anger as an American citizen, something inspiring in my eyes.

Quote:
Is that good enough? To my mind, we ought to expect artists like Moore to raise the level of national discourse, not dumb it down. Fahrenheit 9/11 makes serious allegations, and what America deserves is a serious exploration of those allegations, not a superficial personal vendetta waged by a clown convinced he?s a soothsayer. I don?t want a Rush Limbaugh of the left?to accept that kind of figure merely because he speaks for ?our? side is the height of hypocrisy. Moore has always flirted with that line, but this is the first time I was absolutely unwilling to follow him across it.



Name one other extremely popular American movie that has directly addressed 9/11 since its occurrence. I can't think of any. By simply addressing it, by not allowing us to forget the tragedy that spurred all of this even greater catastrophe, I would say Moore is raising the level of national discourse. Is Moore dumbing down our perception of the national government with Fahrenheit 9/11 when most people don't know the ties between the Bush and the Bin Laden families, and don't know the ties between Bush and his oil-interested buddies, don't know the extent of the invasion of privacy in the Patriot Act, and don't know the extent of the lies his regime peddled when trying to persuade the public that an invasion of Iraq was necessary? Fahrenheit 9/11 is entertaining, and it addresses serious issues like you said simply by addressing them, but Moore presents information that is not common knowledge, and that has not been presented before to the public on a widespread basis. If he does so through namecalling or comedic portrayals, fine, I can accept that. Moore is a clown convinced he's a soothsayer? Perhaps, because he makes some broad allegations against a government that has been defined by its dishonesty, cruelty, hypocrisy, greed, and selfishness, in a very angry and frustrated way, and by drawing some rather clowning inferences, in order to try to heal a nation quickly falling in the perception of the rest of the world. But is Bush not a clown convinced he's a soothsayer, bound ball and chain to numerous oil corporations and a regime that tells him what to do without a murmur from his part, and parading around to the US public that he's protecting us from terorrist attacks and making the world a better place? Is that why he's the most environmentally harmful president ever, and is that why our current government is so prone to propagandist paranoia-inducing mania in order to proceed with their own agenda? Moore may be a clown, but he is such in order to deliver information to the public that is vital, though-provoking, and rarely in the national media; Bush is a clown as well, and he is such in order to make the public believe that he is instigating war and acting out a personal vendetta in order to save our children. They're both guilty of clowning around, but what are the ends they are aiming for?

Moore is not the Rush Limbaugh of the left, not even with Fahrenheit 9/11. Limbaugh makes up information out of the blue. He preaches intolerance and the power of white corporate America. I simply do not agree that Moore is anywhere close to being the Limbaugh of the left, and that's not just because I agree with him. There are several right-minded news correspondents whom I consider intelligent and passionate, even when I don't agree with them; they have true beliefs in the beauty of the American future, and they are not acting out of greed or out of a desire to perpetuate the superiority of their own racial and economic social class. That is what Limbaugh does. I do not agree that, with Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore is doing so to put down all Republicans, teach the superiority of white liberal Americana, and gain notoriety because of his loudmouthed accusations. If he did that, he would be the Rush Limbaugh of the left. I am a hypocrite for despising Limbaugh and agreeing with Moore if they use the same tactics? If they do indeed use the same tactics, then yes, I am a hypocrite; I have yet to be convinced of that.

Quote:
In Moore's simplified, trickle-down world, Bush is the single causal agent responsible for each act of torture committed by US troops; his pop psychology claims that Bush's unethical behavior abstractly trickles down to the ground troops, allowing them to justify their atrocities. But then how does Moore explain the many documented cases of humane treatment and altruism committed by US troops? If Moore is willing to blame the torture on Bush policies, by the same process mustn?t he also have to credit Bush policies for the multitude of kindnesses performed by some troops?


You're right about that; Moore bounces over any kind treatment of Iraqi civilians by the US army, and he does imply that any military cruelty is instigated by Bush's own insensitivity. That is propaganda, to be sure. But - and this does not excuse it - but when we see nothing of that sort on any sort of news media, and when it is obviously happening, and Moore presents it through Fahrenheit 9/11, should we shrug it off as mere propaganda? Moore's tactic is biased and unfounded at that point, but as always, the truth is somewhere in the middle: the liberating heroes of Fox News Channel, and the angry warmongers of Moore's depiction. We should should shrug neither off as propaganda, nor take full stock in either; the truth exists in both depictions, and both are equally guilty of pandering to their own motivations.

Quote:
If Bush has been derelict in his duties as a politician?and I?m convinced he has?Moore has been equally derelict in his duties as a journalist and as an artist. We might argue that with this film Moore functions not as a journalist but as a satirist, and I would be willing to accept most of this material as welcome satire--if it wasn't also coupled with serious accusations made in clear, earnest sincerity.



Moore has accused, pandered, and provoked just like Bush, but not anywhere near as much, and not on anywhere near as dangerous a level. Once again, that doesn't excuse it, but when a viewpoint like Moore's is so rare in widespread American media, his end justifies his means, in my opinion. What did I feel at the end of Fahrenheit 9/11? I discussed politics with my friends, conservative and liberal. I wondered about the war in Iraq, wondered about where the world will go if Bush remains our leader. Is Bush being a derelict leader and leading us into an unnecessary war with a nation that had never physically provoked us on the same level as Moore making accusations and broad implications in order to present an argument that is at least majorly based in truth? No, not nearly. Moore may not be a perfect journalist with Fahrenheit 9/11: he doesn't always tell the truth, and he almost always exaggerates it. But the truth is in there, and to me, it's the truth of living in a nation that's being darkened by a weak, manipulative, desperate, and selfish leader. To me, the satire and the political accusations work, because both of them are founded in truth, if not necessarily directly proving it. Propaganda and editorializing comes in all shapes and forms; at least Moore's has wit, truth, sincerity, and a hell of a lot more logic than almost anything George W has come up with in the last four years of office.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 06.28.2004 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I?m trying to be very brief in my responses:

matt header wrote:
It irks me that people criticize this as propaganda; why don't we take a look at 95% of all media coverage of the war since 2001 and see if that's propaganda, see if the media has allowed any images of caskets covered in American flags, any images of Iraqi civilians being killed, any criticism of Bush's tactics and ponderance of the military's tactics until recently? That's propaganda as well?What kind of propaganda is more dangerous?


If the American media practices propaganda?and I agree that its rah-rah coverage has been repugnant?I don?t follow why that excuses Michael Moore?s version of the same. What?s truly irksome is the hypocrisy of attacking one and forgiving the other. I?m also uneasy excusing Moore simply because his version is ?less dangerous,? as if my only choice is the lesser of two evils. Is there no other option?

I agree that the media has probably been more selective in its editing than Moore, but again, that doesn?t justify Moore?s failings. They both deserve criticism; this is not an either-or situation.

matt header wrote:
Isn't this something that we should see, evidence that our President is not someone who is noble or strong-willed enough to lead the most powerful nation in the world?


Is this information Americans need? Absolutely. Americans also need a serious investigation of these allegations, not one that connects the dots with sloppy inferences. I would disagree that most of Moore?s inferences are ?heavily implicated,? unless we are predisposed to unquestioningly accept his logical pathways. At best, he introduced familiar theories and made me long for a real investigation of them. I was hoping for The New Republic and I got Harry Knowles.

matt header wrote:
I'd say about half the film is sound political discourse, and if some of it is on a selective, broad, emotional level, or if some of it draws inferences that may or may not be true but are heavily implicated, so be it: I wouldn't call that propaganda so much as passionate, persuasive editorial filmmaking?


Calling half the film ?sound political discourse? seems rather generous to me, but are you satisfied with 50%? I?m willing to call it ?passionate? and ?editorial??those are qualities I?ve always admired about Moore?but I wasn?t persuaded. (I think your argument applies better to Bowling for Columbine and even Roger and Me, both of which I found occasionally dubious but still persuasive.) My gut and prior knowledge tell me Moore is on to a few things in Fahrenheit 9/11, but persuasive journalism isn?t one of them.

matt header wrote:
Moore believes that Bush orchestrated the whole war to gain control of this [oil] supply and to appease his corporate cohorts, who wanted to make loads of oil profits. Moore may be wrong. But the evidence is outstanding. Cheney used to head Halliburton, which would seriously benefit from possession of the oil pipeline. Bush is great friends with James Bath, a head of another corporation that would heavily profit from possession of the oil pipeline. His corporate history is extensive and beguiling: his whole life he's been embroiled in corporate interests. He was raised in oil industries and on the golf course.


I agree that these allegations require investigation, but Moore avoids seeking actual proof that Bush is driven solely by the profit motive. Instead, he relies exclusively on circumstantial evidence that he connects with a constricted interpretation of events. While many people are predisposed to assume the worst (and Moore is certainly banking on his choir to follow him down this slope), I don?t believe the corporate backgrounds of Cheney and Bush convict them of anything. Moore employs such narrow cause-effect equations that the lack of hard evidence?actual proof that oil profits were the primary goal, not just a secondary byproduct?only underscores the logical fallacies that Moore employs. For example, Moore makes much of how the administration blacked out Bath?s name on Bush?s military records. Perhaps he is correct that the reason was to mask an unsavory connection to the war. Yet, can?t we interpret the blacking out in any number of other ways? (Is it standard practice for release? Were other names also blacked out? Moore never asks?or worse, he asked and neglects to share the answers.) He draws an extremely questionable conclusion, and then uses it as the foundation for an entire line of accusations.

Also I never knew that being raised by a wealthy family to appreciate golf automatically makes an individual incapable of decency?as if a privileged existence is the only factor that determines a person?s moral character. Moore continually engages in that kind of cheap and meaningless class warfare, for the same reason he employs ?amusing? mockery?to prime audiences to unblinkingly accept his incidental and anecdotal assertions. I enjoy a good satire of the wealthy as much as the next guy, but Moore?s allegations are serious enough, and timely enough, to warrant a much more sophisticated exploration. What bothers me most, I think, is that Moore seems fully aware that he?s engaging in propaganda?he uses these tactics because he knows that they work. To some degree, though, isn?t that a form of condescension, an insult to the ?working people? he purports to hold in the highest regard?

matt header wrote:
Name one other extremely popular American movie that has directly addressed 9/11 since its occurrence. I can't think of any. By simply addressing it, by not allowing us to forget the tragedy that spurred all of this even greater catastrophe, I would say Moore is raising the level of national discourse.


The lack of any competitors does not automatically qualify Fahrenheit 9/11 as a sophisticated address of the attacks. That?s like saying Dodgeball is ?raising the level of national discourse? about dodgeball, just because nothing else has prodded America into discussing the game.

I admire Moore?s attempt to spread this information?it isn?t fresh material, but you are correct that it isn?t common knowledge?yet mere dissemination is not inherently virtuous. I would argue that while Moore has raised the quantity of national discourse, he hasn?t raised the quality of national discourse.

matt header wrote:
Moore is a clown convinced he's a soothsayer? Perhaps? But is Bush not a clown convinced he's a soothsayer, bound ball and chain to numerous oil corporations and a regime that tells him what to do without a murmur from his part, and parading around to the US public that he's protecting us from terorrist attacks and making the world a better place?


I won?t argue that Bush isn?t clownish and dangerous, but I fail to see why two wrongs make a right. To defend Moore on the grounds that he?s not as dangerous as Bush is moral relativism of the most dispiriting variety. As my signature below states, ?When we are reduced to insisting that our depravity isn't as bad as the other guy's, we have fallen deep into a pit of moral equivalence that reveals what we have lost.?

matt header wrote:
Moore is not the Rush Limbaugh of the left, not even with Fahrenheit 9/11.


If we assume that your conjectures about Limbaugh?s motives are correct?and I?m somewhat skeptical?then I would agree Moore is not guilty of the same. I don?t doubt Moore?s good intentions (and I largely agree with his agenda). My comparison to Limbaugh, though, wasn?t based upon motivational similarities. While I would describe Limbaugh as conservatism for beginners, I think Moore is liberalism for beginners. I think both are frequently embarrassments to their respective movements. I may have more sympathy for Moore and his efforts, but that doesn?t mean I must wholeheartedly approve of his methods.

matt header wrote:
Moore's tactic is biased and unfounded at that point, but as always, the truth is somewhere in the middle: the liberating heroes of Fox News Channel, and the angry warmongers of Moore's depiction. We should should shrug neither off as propaganda, nor take full stock in either; the truth exists in both depictions, and both are equally guilty of pandering to their own motivations.


Agreed. Which is why Moore deserves the same criticism as Fox News, not a free pass.

matt header wrote:
?when a viewpoint like Moore's is so rare in widespread American media, his end justifies his means, in my opinion.


That?s a fair opinion, but I don?t share it. I think ?the means? reveals more about character than ?the end? does. The end justifies the means is the same thinking that got us into Iraq in the first place, and it doesn?t become more palatable when it serves ?our? ends.

matt header wrote:
Moore may not be a perfect journalist with Fahrenheit 9/11: he doesn't always tell the truth, and he almost always exaggerates it. But the truth is in there?


The truth is in there, indeed. And that?s why I spent the entire movie craving for a skilled investigator to tackle this material. I?ve read extremely thoughtful pieces from both sides regarding its accusations, pieces that would have made for terrific feature documentary material. I suppose it?s positive that this movie has inspired the media to start talking about its assertions. Yet inspiring discourse doesn?t make a film automatically ?good.? I?m willing to grant Fahrenheit 9/11 the status of important cultural springboard, but not great cinema. Its greatest, most enduring contribution may be opening the box-office doors for other nonfiction films. I?m thrilled about its commercial achievement.

Eric
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Monkeypox
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PostPosted: 06.28.2004 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surprised Surprised Surprised Surprised

Thank you, Mr. Beltmann, for coherently putting together the arguments I've been attempting to make but failing miserably at.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 06.29.2004 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I was hoping for The New Republic and I got Harry Knowles.



LOL. Fair enough.

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My gut and prior knowledge tell me Moore is on to a few things in Fahrenheit 9/11, but persuasive journalism isn?t one of them.



Although a lack of concrete proof may exist in Fahrenheit 9/11, I still found myself persuaded: if not of anything definite, than at least that things must be done. In my eyes, even if Moore is not an extremely objective or sensible journalist, that's an admirable result: if we take Fahrenheit 9/11 as a warning call and not as an expose of torrid events (a generous and dismissive view, it may be), it succeeds exremely well.

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Also I never knew that being raised by a wealthy family to appreciate golf automatically makes an individual incapable of decency?as if a privileged existence is the only factor that determines a person?s moral character.


No, it's not the only factor; add to that Bush's easily manipulated and aimless guidance; his insensitivity to countries other than the United States (and, one may argue, people other than himself); his use of mass hysteria and anger-mongering to sway the American public; and his hands tied closely and influenced almost exclusively by high-ranking corporations, and we have a rather strong depiction of a wealthy, selfish, ineffective bum, in my opinion.

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That?s like saying Dodgeball is ?raising the level of national discourse? about dodgeball, just because nothing else has prodded America into discussing the game.



Hey, before Dodgeball, I had never known of the serious physical and mental deprecations and philosophical implications that the childhood game arises. Smile

Point taken.

Quote:
The end justifies the means is the same thinking that got us into Iraq in the first place, and it doesn?t become more palatable when it serves ?our? ends.



I still see a discrepancy in the ends of the Iraqi war - the US being embroiled in a pointless war in a nation that had never directly attacked us among boos from the rest of the world - and the ends of Moore's film, which at least raises public awareness and skepticism about the supposedly almighty and righteous justice of the United States. You're right that the means reveals more about character than the end, and I agree that some of Moore's means take the easy way out; but I still find his means powerful, relevant, and intermittently persuasive.

Your points are taken and I agree with many of them - AND, by the way, sorry if I seemed arrogant or confrontational in my response to your criticisms, I think I was venting some of my anger against George W through an inappropriate channel. But I still appreciate Fahrenheit 9/11 as, most generally, summarizing the frustration, pain, regret, and hope of living in the United States after 9/11, something I have always felt tangibly but have never really seen paralleled in a US film since then. You're 100% right: we need a more perceptive, more objective, more sophisticated analysis of US policy in the post-9/11 days. But as it is, I think we have a passionate and relatable response in Fahrenheit 9/11, one that allowed me personally to see my perceptions of Bush as a manipulative buffoon echoed by Moore's shaky but powerful call of anger.
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stefanieduckwitz
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PostPosted: 06.29.2004 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Secret Window (Koepp, USA 2004). The first two acts are intensely enjoyable hokum, as the writer tries to keep control of both the situation and his marriage, but the third act resolves itself with predictable and eye-rolling revelations--the metaphors for writer's block and writer's guilt are rather cornball. Still, Depp kicks the movie up a notch.


It makes the movie so much better, just because the hottest man alive is in it. *sigh
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smarty
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PostPosted: 06.29.2004 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


If the American media practices propaganda?and I agree that its rah-rah coverage has been repugnant?I don?t follow why that excuses Michael Moore?s version of the same. What?s truly irksome is the hypocrisy of attacking one and forgiving the other. I?m also uneasy excusing Moore simply because his version is ?less dangerous,? as if my only choice is the lesser of two evils. Is there no other option?



"Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war we must spread the propaganda of peace." - Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe that Moore's method of film-making that shows his side of current issues such as gun control, the war, civil liberties, corperate greed, and many other issues is simply a necessary counter to the one sided journalism being practiced by the right wing controlled media today.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 06.29.2004 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

smarty wrote:
I believe that Moore's method of film-making that shows his side of current issues such as gun control, the war, civil liberties, corperate greed, and many other issues is simply a necessary counter to the one sided journalism being practiced by the right wing controlled media today.


I agree that his methods are a counter to the one-sided mainstream media, but I disagree that his version is "necessary." I don't think King's quote applies to Moore. King's solution was rising above the muck--replacing ignoble values with noble ones--while Moore's solution is to dive right into the muck alongside his enemies. Far more "necessary" is a left-wing artist who raises the same issues Moore does with a higher level of integrity.

Eric
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