With the whole world on a 24-hour Trumpian news cycle, do we really need a feature documentary on The President With Cheetos-Coloured Face? Well, when the filmmaker is provocateur and polemicist Michael Moore, the answer is unequivocal: Hell, yes!
Actually, Fahrenheit 11/9 isn’t so much about Trump himself but more so looks at the current troubles and long-brewing discontent in the United States that the president so expertly manipulated en route to the White House. It’s not pretty.
After establishing that the American working class was mostly abandoned by their traditional Democratic allies under a right-leaning Bill Clinton, we get a quick civics lesson in how both parties are beholden to the special interests that fund them. And even though Moore clearly favours the Democrats, he condemns how the party elite cheated outrageously to elbow Bernie Sanders out of the way so that Hillary won the Democratic nomination to run against Trump – an act of cynicism that ultimately cost them key votes. (Even Barack Obama comes off as surprisingly shabby in several instances where his politics weren’t aligned with his image of public virtue.)
A lot of screen time is devoted to analyzing how the Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, enriched some multi-millionaire cronies by changing the water supply to the already-beleaguered city of Flint, thereby poisoning its citizens. He then had flunkies cover up the resulting dire health outcomes – an act of criminality that inspired Moore to descend upon the governor’s lair with a camera crew and a pair of handcuffs to attempt a citizen’s arrest. Later, there’s no agit-prop theatrics about the activism of the impressively eloquent high school kids who stepped up to a national podium in the wake of the dreadful school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Although not yet of voting age, those students embody the main point of 11/9 – that democracy isn’t a spectator sport … and that America’s political system is desperately in need of rescuing.
In typical Moore fashion there are lots of scattershot images, from near-pedophiliac clips of Trump with a tween-aged Ivanka, to interviews with striking teachers and articulate “rednecks” ready to fight in the streets for social justice.
Happily, and unlike your standard documentary, there’s also lots of Moore’s outrageous humour to make these lessons palatable. By the time he runs an extended clip of a Hitler rally, but with Trump’s voice booming out of the Führer’s mouth, you’ll probably wish you could be voting in November’s mid-term elections.
Directed by and starring Michael Moore
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The Sisters Brothers
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Hold The Dark
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Monsters And Men
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The Old Man & The Gun
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The Happy Prince
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The great Paul Greengrass (United 93, Bourne Ultimatum) returns to real-life drama for this examination of the horrifying 2011 massacre in Norway perpetrated by Anders Breivik.