BR: Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)

January 7, 2019 | By

Film: Very Good

Transfer: Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Briarcliff Entertainment / Warner Home Video

Region: A

Released:  December 18, 2017

Genre:  Documentary

Synopsis: Visceral documentary on the links between the Flint, Michigan, water crisis and corrupt businessmen in power.

Special Features:  (none)

 


 

Review:

In his latest film, documentarian and provocateur Michael Moore attempts to examine how the United States ended up with Donald Trump as President by delving into the latest disastrous circumstances to hit his hometown of Flint, Michigan, the city whose workers in the auto industry were affected by GM’s downsizing, and chronicled in the director’s feature film debut, Roger & Me (1989).

The new indignity is arguably more repugnant: Michigan state governor and former CEO of Gateway computers Rick Snyder ordering Flint’s water supply to come not from Lake Huron, but the polluted Flint River, using technology from Snyder’s chronies and corporate buddies. The water contained high levels of chemicals which poisoned families whose taps drew from the supposedly treated river water, and corroded existing pipes which further raised the toxic stew of the water system with lead.

Moore’s hypothesis of Trump’s presidential win postulates that political apathy among disgusted voters, an electorate deliberately divided along racial lines and marginalized by bigoted billionaires, plus blatant cronyism led to cities and states run by rich, greedy, white executives whose sole fidelity was towards corporate donors.

Moore’s personalized approach to narrative is well-known: he can be profane, he inserts himself into the narrative, and will often engage in a stunt that’s deliberately absurd – in this case, the director walks to the state legislate with a pair of handcuffs to make a citizen’s arrest of Snyder.

His attempts at contrast & irony also veer into smart-ass pokes. In the ‘How the fuck did we get into this mess?’ prologue, Moore contrasts initially cheery footage of Hilary Clinton supporters & pop stars with grim Trump footage underscored with Jerry Goldsmith’s “Ave Satani” incantation from The Omen (1976). In the most outrageous sequence, his closing argument sets Trump’s words to footage of Hitler addressing the Nazis at the pre-Nuremberg party congress, sourced from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935) – a marriage that fists disturbingly well.

11/9 runs a bit long, and his music montages are pitched to sometimes darkly comedic, bathos-tinged levels, but not unlike Sicko (2007), there are stark, deeply affecting segments which demonstrate his strengths as a documentarian: cutting through political rhetoric, interviewing deeply affected, ordinary citizens, and choreographing their outrage into a cinematic political statement. As he states around the midpoint, ‘No terrorist organization has ever figured out how to poison an entire city, and yet we let it happen ourselves.’

Moore opines Trump’s win is due to the lack of good leadership, especially among the Democratic Party’s old guard whom he argues have consistently sabotaged their own efforts to stay true to the country’s liberal majority, and under Bill Clinton, pose as Republicans Lite. Barak Obama is especially (and deservedly) criticized for parachuting into Flint, playing theatrical games for the cameras, and failing to declare a national emergency and provide aide to citizens.

For his finale, Moore draws on the powerful name reading of dead classmates by Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez to conclude his thesis, in which change can only happen if people take the initiative to tear down an apathetic, complacent establishment and expand their activism as representatives in city, state, and federal legislatures.

Warner Bros.’ Blu-ray is a bare bones release, but features a crisp transfer and 5.1 sound mix with aggressively mixed music cues.

The early discovery of Flint’s poisoned water by local citizens was also dramatized by Bruce Beresford in the Lifetime teleplay Flint (2017).

 

 

© 2019 Mark R. Hasan

 


 

 


 

External References:
Editor’s BlogIMDB  — Composer Filmography
 
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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