The Electric Commentary

Monday, May 24, 2004

Sorry to harp on Michael Moore…

But harp I must. He won first prize at the Cannes film festival, for his upcoming “documentary” Fahrenheit 911. I obviously have not seen the film yet, so my comments are based only on what I’ve read about it. But I have read quite a lot. Perhaps it is a great work of film making apart from its message. This is entirely possible, as Mr. Moore’s first movie, “Roger and Me” was clever and proved that he could handle a camera, even if it’s message was stupid. I find it much more likely that this upcoming movie will be a “Mad Lib” of Bowling for Columbine. Insert noun of something liberals hate here. Last time it was guns, this time it’s Bush. Bush deserves criticism. That is fair enough. But if Mr. Moore employs the intellectual dishonesty used in his last few books and in Bowling for Columbine, he will likely fail to inspire everyone that is not already in his camp.

All of this aside, is there anyone, and I mean one single person in the world, who for a second thinks that Michael Moore would have won this award if not for the subject of his film. Purportedly Quentin Tarantino made a point of telling Michael upon his acceptance of the award that the subject matter had nothing to do with it. That he was being rewarded for a great film. What a crock. Think about this. Bowling for Columbine, rightly or wrongly (note: the correct answer is wrongly.) won an Oscar for best documentary. Was it even close to winning best picture? How many films would have won best picture before BFC? 50? 300? Yet here at Cannes, which purportedly did not lack for complex and challenging entries, this likely pseudo-documentary wins not the documentary category, but first prize overall? And politics had nothing to do with it.

Michael also kept up his streak of fibbing by asserting that Disney had, at the last second, decided not to distribute his film. This is false, as he knew well in advance that they would not distribute his film, but it sure helps to have a big bad corporation holding you down. Disney allowed him to seek another distributor and impeded him in no way. He owes them a debt of gratitude.

What strikes me is that the French in Cannes have sacrificed (or is it surrendered?) their artistic integrity for a quick rip on the president. A more deserving film was probably snubbed for this. Perhaps that film will now lack wide release in the US. People will be denied the cultural enrichment of a truly powerful film and instead see what amounts to a commercial for the democratic national committee. How sad.

Then again, it may be that the French simply have no taste. They have a reputation of refinement, but why? They love Jerry Lewis. Doesn't that disqualify them immediately? Sure they drink wine, but they also export more wine to the US than any other country.

Cannes used to bestow its award on a truly deserving film, generally, but not always, under the radar. Here they have essentially sold out to advance a cause. But we already knew how they felt. So why bother? Like many other French endeavors, this was a waste of time that ended in failure. What a travesty.


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