Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).
It’s no secret that Michael Moore wears his politics on his sleeve. And his pant legs. And around his waist, on his head, and in his shoes. Fourteen years ago he famously skewered the George W. Bush administration in the Palme d'Or-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, followed by 2007’s Sicko, which attacked Big Pharma, and the rest-of-the-world-is-better travelogue Where to Invade Next in 2015.
Anyone who is expecting a two-hour, unabashed shellacking of Donald Trump in Moore’s latest, Fahrenheit 11/9, however, may be surprised to find that some of the most scathing commentary is reserved for the Democratic Party and former President Barack Obama. In fact, behind only Trump and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (who Moore lambastes repeatedly for the ongoing water crisis in Flint), Obama is whacked more severely than anyone else.
Of course the Electoral College, the NRA, and Big Business also get their share of time in Moore’s laser-sights, but make no mistake—Fahrenheit 11/9 is an equal-opportunity critique of what is currently wrong with the state of the union.
After opening on the eve of the 2016 Election, Fahrenheit 11/9 backtracks to examine the perfect storm of factors that resulted in Trump’s win, including James Comey, the Russians, and yes, even singer Gwen Stefani. (It makes sense as Moore explains it.) Along with side-chapters on Trump’s cringe-inducing feelings for his daughter Ivanka and his well-documented history of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, the film carefully (and, at times, hilariously) examines how exactly the man rose to power.
As incisive as it is inflammatory, Fahrenheit 11/9 spends most of its second act on the Flint water contamination, bringing to light the severity of the issue for anyone who has never read any farther than the headlines. And just when you think Moore may be going off the rails (he goes for what seems like a solid half-hour without even mentioning Trump), he manages to tie everything (including the recent West Virginia teachers’ strike) altogether into a cohesive argument that, no matter whose side you’re on, America is in dire straits.
Of course Moore draws the inevitable (and often-mentioned) comparisons between Trump and Hitler, even going so far as to superimpose images of Hitler ranting to his supporters over sound of Trump speaking to his; it’s a bit much in the moment, to be sure, but there’s no denying the startling amount of easily-drawn parallels between the each man’s ascension.
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Fahrenheit 11/9 can’t really be called a documentary in the traditional sense, any more than anything Dinesh D'Souza has ever created can be. It’s an op-ed piece from start to finish, and it will likely find cheerleaders only on the far left, but it’s arguably among the most important films to hit theaters so far this year—if for no other reason than it might open eyes on both sides of the aisle about how far the country has fallen and what can be done to start the long road to getting back on track. And there’s no real debate about that.