Michael Moore Drops the Zaniness to Take Aim at Bush & Co. in “Fahrenheit 9/11” (by Peter Brunette, May 18, 2004) Documentary coverage presented by AFI / SilverDocs

Michael Moore is back, once again striking fear into the hearts of Republicans everywhere. After the almost shocking worldwide success of “Bowling for Columbine,” which won an Academy Award and grossed millions of dollars more than anyone expected, Moore now lines up George W. Bush and Co. firmly in his crosshairs and fires pointblank. The result, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” is a powerful, timely, and convincing assault on the family and friends who brought us the current mess in Iraq.

This time around, Moore drops the zaniness and high entertainment value evident in “Bowling for Columbine,” in favor of an elegiac approach that is less funny but ultimately, maybe, more politically effective. Only time will tell. A lot depends on how distribution shakes out, since Miramax’s parent Disney has forbidden the Weinstein brothers from distributing the film. Obviously someone will snatch it up immediately, but without the Miramax muscle, the film’s reach won’t be nearly as great.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” begins with a recap of Bush’s theft of the presidency, as Moore presents interesting footage of Al Gore, as president of the Senate, ironically having to overrule the many African-American congressmen and congresswomen who were trying to officially protest the results of the election.

Next comes the shocking events of September 11th, which Moore makes fresh by choosing not to show the planes crashing into the twin towers, but merely a dark screen, with the sound of the crashes, followed by riveting pictures of people in shock and dismay. Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out these images still have the power to wring tears from viewers.

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