Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore
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Michael Moore, world famous muckraker and flag bearer for the documentary renaissance, has the camera turned on him in this revelatory critical biography by Canadian filmmakers Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine. They follow Moore on the cusp of the release of Fahrenheit 9/11, the subsequent Slacker Uprising Tour and the 2004 US election. But even as they doggedly pursue an elusive interview with Moore (sound familiar?), the filmmakers find many former associates and subjects willing to talk. Some of the findings are quite shocking, calling into question not only Moore's practice as a documentarian, but also the effectiveness of his self-centred approach to political filmmaking. Seeking to separate the fact, fiction and legend that surrounds Moore, Melnyk and Caine ultimately offer a balanced portrait and an effective starting point for further discussion of Moore's contentious work and political filmmaking in general.
"'Manufacturing Dissent': Turning the lens on Michael Moore." -- John Anderson, INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE
"An intelligent, provocative and necessary examination of the phenomenon of Michael Moore" -- Joe Leydon, VARIETY
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The one thing the film is lacking is context. Moore is popular because the mainstream media feeds off highly polarized simplistic politics. So to talk about Michael Moore with out talking about the mainstream media and its manufactured culture is like making a film about a football player without mentioning the football game.
Watch this film but also watch Michael Moore's films. For all the criticisms, Moore's films are worth watching but with the understanding he sometimes plays tricks to make his point. Even knowing about his tricks I still believe that most his points are valid.
Manufacturing Dissent is a fair documentary. The interviews are with people from both sides. Some love Michael Moore, some hate him. But the important thing is that a lot of the people interviewed worked with Michael Moore. The movie reveals that Moore is not necessarily in search of the truth, just in search of a way to validate things he already believes to be true. This movie is great for anyone who values intellectual honesty.
See Manufacturing Dissent for its content, because its production quality will not impress.
The filmmakers are clearly not hostile to Moore or his politics. For example, they point out that Moore was absurdly and unfairly prevented from being admitted to his high school's "hall of fame." And one of their critiques of "Bowling for Columbine" was that Moore, instead of calling for a ban on the handguns which are involved in most gun crimes, launched into a convoluted critique of American culture. Most of the interviewees were left-wing activists who totally share Moore's politics, and worked with him at places like "Mother Jones."
So it is all the more damning when they expose Moore's shoddy propaganda. The film most comprehensively dismantled is the one that made Moore's reputation--1989's "Roger and Me." The whole conceit of the film is that Moore chases GM CEO Roger Smith around with a camera and microphone, but never gets an interview. In reality, Moore got a 10 minute interview with Smith, the transcript of which still exists, although Moore tried to get his left-wing colleague to deny its existence. Moore crafted the movie to make it appear that he was alone in his quest to call GM to account, when in reality, there was a huge union and activist movement calling for the same things Moore was calling or. Moreover, Moore changed around chronology and invented out of whole cloth a story about a stolen news van (and shot a fake local new segment reporting the "story"). He also created a scene to make it appear that he had been cut off from speaking at GM shareholder's meeting when, in fact, that never happened.
Then there is "Bowling for Columbine," in which Moore staged a scene in which he receives a gun in return for opening a bank account, making it appear that you could get the gun right there in the bank, when he knew very well that that was not how it worked. And his ambush of Charlton Heston, who was already suffering from Alzheimers, is aptly decribed by another left-wing activist as "mean," which it certainly was.
Moore is a good and entertaining propagandist, but he is no journalist and he has never made documentary in his life.
I differ from one of the one star reviewers who suggests I should see 30 or 40 hours of other Moore video before commenting on THIS film which is at issue: Manufacturing Dissent. WHEW.
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