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Resist the temptation to be polarized by the title. First and foremost,
this documentary has a non-adversarial tone that is refreshing and
well-executed. The title is truly terrible from a marketing
perspective, but it's there for two very good reasons:
1) It is an extremely ironic jab aimed at the growing number of people who shun rational debate in favor of screaming shrilly that they are right and everyone who opposes their views is evil, be they "Conservative" or "Liberal". I promise you that this film has none of that, and in fact it is that attitude (why people have it, why it's a bad thing) that this film spends the most time examining.
2) In the end, the question of how Moore feels about America seems to keep coming up throughout Mike Wilson's search and he goes to experts and common-folk alike to get their honest opinions, often without telling them the title of his film (at first) so-as not to influence their response.
This movie will leave you feeling good in a way you haven't realized you've been missing, and it gives a fresh new take on the documentary film genre that's brings it back to its roots. It proves that documentary filmmakers taking the "high road" can still entertain their audience, and perhaps even stimulate discussion between opposing viewpoints in a way no "low-road" documentary ever could.
I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys documentaries and doubly so for anyone who has an opinion on Moore, because chances are that no matter what your opinion of Moore is, messiah or madman, after this film you will find yourself revising it, at least a little bit.
P.S.: Sadly the vote breakdown at the time of this writing seems to be split almost exclusively between 10's and 1's. I implore people to actually SEE this movie and make sure they vote their honest opinion AFTERWARDS instead of just giving their opinion of the title. This film deserves that much, at least.
Even if you are a Michael Moore supporter, you can't help but scratch
your head about the famous "documentarian" after watching Michael
Wilson's film. Obviously, this documentary was made as a result of
Moore's Farenheit 911, although aspects of it is similar to Roger & Me.
Wilson could have, and possibly should have titled his film, "Michael &
Me" since the most controversial aspect of it is the title itself.
Certainly, Moore could not have taken issue with such a title since he
himself lifted his film's title from Ray Bradbury's classic "Farenheit
Overall, it is a highly entertaining examination of Moore's rationale behind his film making style and subject matter. Instead of leading the audience to a single, specific and politically one-sided conclusion as Moore's films do, it challenges the audience to think for themselves and not necessarily take the word of the film maker as gospel,including Wilson's film. I feel the film maker respected my intelligence and my time.
I know... you look at the title and cringe. Either you love the title
because you hate the guy, or you hate the movie already because you
But I had been following this kid (not really a kid - probably late 20s) for a while. He followed his dream - he wanted to make movies. He lost his job, spent all of his money - just to make the film.
So I did something I never do - I bought the movie without seeing it. Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up, so I knew it wouldn't be a total waste. I was pleasantly surprised.
It wasn't an all out attack on Moore. It did criticize his methods (the more shady ones) and acknowledged his talent. The movie was more of a feel good story... he talks to real people and funny things happen. The director (Mike Wilson) is completely open and honest about himself and his shortcomings. It wasn't laugh out loud humor (although Penn Gillette, who's in quite a bit of it IS laugh out loud funny at parts).
The best part of this movie is that you are smiling at the end of it. It actually felt good to help this guy achieve his dream of making a movie and pocketing some coin. You just know he is a decent guy - at one point he sends an apology email to an interviewee because he feels badly about deceiving him.
This movie is worth your investment if you like a good story and want honest-to-goodness independent entertainment. I am a movie snob and I really recommend it to anyone who has a few bucks to spend after Christmas.
I have to say that I am not a fan of Michael Moore. He makes very
entertaining films, he has a good sense of humor, but it is an insult
to call him a true documentary filmmaker. His films are really
propaganda pieces to promote him as a working class hero. He makes
himself the story. This film is by Michael Wilson, a guy who wanted to
give Moore a taste of his own medicine. This documentary follows
Wilson's attempts to interview Moore, a la Moore's own film Roger and
Me. He is avoided by Moore at every turn, at one point he attends a
speech by Moore, and in an open question session tells Moore the title
of his film, and Moore shouts him down. It is a tactic that Moore uses,
but when Wilson puts him on the spot he lashes out. It is ironic that a
man who has become a multi millionaire by confronting people hates when
it is done to him. It was great to see Wilson interview Moore
supporters after the incident, and disagree with the way Moore had
treated him. They were Moore supporters but had no problem with someone
that disagreed with them.
To be fair, Wilson borrows a lot from Moore's style, the film is very much like Moore's own work. The difference is the tone, it is obvious that Wilson is not a Moore fan, he views America with a more positive perspective, for some people that would mean that Wilson is some right wing nut. He makes no real political proclamations, his point is that we should be able to debate without being so shrill. Both sides have bomb throwers, Moore is really just that, a bomb thrower that wants to wallow in how bad it is in America without offering any solutions. The right has Ann Coulter, she is just as bad as Moore. This film is not scandalous or inflammatory in any way, it does point out that Moore has every right to say what he has to say, but it exposes how he slickly puts his films together to get his messages across. He seems to be a very savvy and cynical filmmaker. Michal Wilson chooses to view his country in a hopeful light, Moore sees it in a bad way. Does "Michael Moore Hate America"?, as the titles says, I don't know, but this film makes a pretty good argument. But what this film does is that it champions his right to think and say what he wants, and that is the way it should be.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The average rating is so far from reasonable that one can only conclude
that many who voted did not actually see the film, and were just
responding to the provocative title.
This sort of behavior is of course in line with many of the themes presented in the film. Not so different from the scene where the filmmaker is shouted down after asking Micheal Moore a question. Micheal Moore is a zealot magnet, so getting a crowd to judge the film simply on its merits is too much to hope for. I would suggest that the title chosen for the film was also a mistake, since it prevents the film from being taken seriously from the start. Something like "Micheal and me" would have been more appropriate, though it would not have attracted as much media attention. I have shown the film to big Farenheit 911 fans, and even they found merits in it. Anyone who enjoyed "Roger and me" (as I did) would particularly appreciate this film for the way it turns the cameras around on Moore some 18 years later. It's worth giving this film a chance, regardless of how you feel about Moore.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not a Moore fan (though i do agree with some of his conclusions)
and it was originally this and the promise of some insightful discourse
on the nature of his technique that attracted me to the film.
But as many have said... the film was completely rubbish. Aside from any previous bias, the propaganda and technique of this film was so heavy handed and basic as to be actually insulting.
Wilson starts out with a few family photographs portrays himself as being an honest American Joe living the American dream (blind hope?) with his unemployed father and being unnecessarily distressed by Michael Moores dissenting opinion. He then goes out of his way to slander him, and put forward his own image of happy go lucky magical America in which everyone, and i paraphrase 'loves everyone around them, and is safe all the time'.
His attack basically summated runs like this - point out obvious documentary theory (nothing in the lens is objective), point out very minor examples (and some bigger ones, but with very little back up to his claims) in which Michael Moore altered a situation to give a situation more emotional impact. On top of that he goes on a crusade to interview real America - in a town of stark unemployment that amazingly consists of only people who own businesses and intersperse with talking heads giving ludicrous commentary in an authoritative tone.
In this entire film Wilson comes up with one original tool for propaganda- he shows himself deceiving someone (very lightly, because he isn't the bad guy here) - him and the producer then have a ridiculous moral conflict about the action - then they show Wilson realizing his mistake and apologizing to the camera. Funnily enough, as opposed to cutting the part he keeps it, with his realization - for fairly obvious reasons.
Suspiciously all the other alterations of fact are left in tact. Every interview is chosen not as a truthful account, but as a vehicle to get across a visceral point. Suburbs are happy, filled with black loving grandma's who feel safe all the time - towns where the infrastructure is ruined are still okay because the American dream lives on in a boy who makes coffee.
When this (perhaps psychologically based) grudge turned veiled objective turd of a film finally winds down and Wilson realizes he has actually made no points whatsoever merely rehashed 1950s corporate propaganda (Everythings Great. Futurism is here! Communism is Evil!) and an attitude so pathetically ignorant and desperate as to be laughable (In America we play hockey! That's how great and happy we are!) - he suddenly makes a sharp veer in his course and ends the film on the note of -
There is no truth, only opinions. And my opinion that Michael Moore hates America is just as valid as Michael Moores opinion that there is an effect on the individual by corporate interest. Because after all, different opinions are what makes America great, and Michaels Moores different opinion that different opinions are wrong is why he hates America and doesn't deserve his opinion.
Still as a sociology student i did walk away with one thing - the complexity of multi nationals, infrastructure and politically influenced neo capitalism don't cause a necessity of poverty - You just have to believe and you can achieve. Damn, someone should tell the Africans to change their lazy attitude!
Finally - the dichotomy between 'objective' and 'subjective' documentary styles was broached upon, studied and had already been split into two very distinct schools as early as the sixties. A commentator in this film said it clearly enough " There is no such thing as an objective documentary, as soon as you point the lens you are capturing something at the expense of everything surrounding it". What everyone failed to mention was that this was widely understood and incorporated into documentary film making. Moore's style is nothing new, and at the very least - he embellishes without fabricating, and is usually cohesive.
I actually finished the film as a Moore sympathizer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sometimes you have to take things to a point to make a point. Michael
Moore has many times been accused of lying or being naive and not
showing the whole picture but the truth is that if you are documenting
the type of phenomenons that he is you have to take things to the very
edge to be able to show your point of view. Even further, you can't
tangle yourself in semantics and rhetorical endless discussion if you
want the regular ordinary man on the street to get interested. This is
Moores dilemma. He's trying to make very complex matters simple and
it's not an easy task.
Now, I'm the first to agree on that he's not always accurate and sometimes not even right, but he finishes his mission which is; To make people think! And this is far more important sometimes than being 100% true.
He even got Mr Wilson to make a movie about him. And that's why we are here.
Wilson is trying to use Moores own rhetoric back on him. He is even got a attorney / author (sic!) to claim that Moore has some personality disorder. He uses the same techniques as him and gets the man on the street to air his opinions and as a coincidence, they are the same as Wilson's. To boil it all down, he is trying to make a Fahrenheit 9/11 about Fahrenheit 9/11.
Now, of course you should challenge Moore's ideas. Of course you should make up your own mind and try to find the facts yourself. That's the whole point of democracy. But where Moore is brilliant with expressing his points and political viewpoint, Wilson is far too blunt. It even gets to the point where you get the feeling that Wilson is not even challenging Moore but is in it for his own personal witch hunt out of some personal dislike. Which is exactly what he's accusing Moore for doing to Mr C. Heston and G.W. Bush. And this, of course, is not good since as a fact he then becomes Moore.
At a point I could almost see him crying off camera because Moore doesn't return his calls. And, come on Wilson, why did you try to make a point about if he cursed or not? A big difference between Moore and Wilson is also this; Where Moore gets people to speak their mind, Wilson will get to use the interviews as long as "they don't look bad". Don't look bad? That's the whole point of investigating journalism, if it looks bad it probably is and you should bring it out in the open. Not the corporate approved statements and views.
Further more, the sections with Penn (yes, Penn from Penn&Teller) screams "You should only show what is government approved". I can't help to recall what the late Bill Hicks said: "You are free to do what we tell you! Here's 16 channels of American Gladiators to choose from".
Now, it might be that we in Europe are more used to harsh journalists that dissect everything, but I get a feeling that Wilson does not fully understand how and why you do an investigating documentary. If peoples toes are going to be stepped on? Sure. If people are going to get mad because things are shown that wasn't supposed to be? Of course. If this is wrong? Not a bit.
A cause, belief or movement that can't stand to be investigated or made fun of, is not meant to survive. It's as simple as that.
I could go on and on and point out the errors I think Wilson is doing this film. The truth is that Wilson should have practiced a bit more first before taking on a challenge as this. He is accusing Moore of editing his movies and then he does the same thing himself. He makes a point of Moore using comments and interviews out of context and then, yes you guessed right, he does it himself. He twists and turns from challenging Moores movies to challenging Moore himself. It all turns into a amateurish soup where you have no real thread to follow. I even felt, after the shop door incident, that he was trying to do a "Cops" episode.
No, Wilson, this is not good. You should have practiced by making some Youtube movies first to get warm in the clothes before going for the trophy; Michael Moore.
Well, this is just a bunch of pointless people (elderly film makers, psychiatrists, failed showmen, some angry psycho called Andrew, the film-maker him self, etc) trying to make Moore look bad, mostly by calling him names (check out Penn Jillette swearing! what the f.. was that about?). No real arguments are made here about the subjects of Moore's documentaries, besides that these people have just discovered film editing - wow! maybe they should also check out how the evening news are edited. Nothing here but a boring and desperate attempt to convince us that everything is fine in America, while trying to make Moore an America hater and a liar, in a country that is full up to the neck, with lies.
I always knew Michael Moore distorted things, but it never really bothered me. I like Bowling For Columbine, despite the gimmicks and misrepresentation that goes on in it. Those films (while not "documentaries) are a sort of "stand up" journalism and it was entertaining at least. F/11 was an inappropriate forum for Moore's style, went too far and was simply tasteless. That said, I don't hate Michael Moore, I sort of pity him. Anyway... I was reluctant to see this movie mainly and shallowly because of the title, but it was actually pretty good. There were a couple sophomoric parts I disagreed with, but the guy who made it (Mike Wilson) seems like a genuine guy, and is not mean spirited at all. The movie is not really about Moore, but rather what America means to Wilson. He is a very simple person with simple views - not stupid, but simple. The parts that involve Michael Moore are essentially about his approach to documentary making, and what objectivity means - especially if one is pursuing it. It's worth a watch - don't get freaked out by the title. Wilson explains the title is more a comment on the shrillness of political discourse in America right now. (I would have gone with a different title still.) All in all go rent it.
I've seen three or four Michael Moore films. While I often hear people deride Moore, I can't deny his importance as a documentarian--he literally changed the face of documentary film-making, for good or ill. For example, "Super Size Me" or "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" would not have existed without Moore first. Having said that, there is much to criticize about Moore. I think only the most hardened partisan wouldn't realize that he plays fast and loose with the truth. This film exposes some of the problems with Moore's films. Should that disqualify Moore? No. But it should serve as a warning to all people that when they view a documentary they should be on their guard. All documentaries, no matter how objective they appear on the surface, have been manipulated. I will agree that there are levels of truthfulness, but no one can ever achieve complete objectivity, and you're naive if you think a documentary can be a window on the world. At least Moore doesn't hide that he has a perspective. (And I must tell you that I'm a conservative, so I don't generally care for his perspective.) As a final note, I think the title of this film is horrible: it's almost false advertising because Wilson's documentary is much milder. The title prepares you for a conservative hatchet job. I would have advised Wilson to come up with something different. ("Bowling for Michael"? I don't know.)
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