Movie Review: Fahrenheit 11/9
Director: Michael Moore
by Jason Koenigsberg
Filmmaker Michael Moore is back at it again with his unscrupulous muckraking with his take on Donald Trump and how the United States got to this point with his newest picture Fahrenheit 11/9. The title is an obvious play on his most successful film, the anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004). Both films start off the same way, with a Democratic candidate celebrating a victory, this time Hillary Clinton, as Michael Moore narrates, “was it all a dream?”, then goes on to explain how the seemingly inexplicable could happen and a much maligned Republican candidate could defeat a heavily favored Democrat. What follows is nothing unusual for a Michael Moore film. He manipulates the audience with music and tells his side of the truth about recent events with only facts that support his arguments. However, do not let that deter you, Fahrenheit 11/9 is without a doubt one of the most important and entertaining films of the year and should be seen by all Americans. It is important to note that although Michael Moore is a gifted filmmaker and uses real footage, his non-fiction films should not be considered documentaries, at least not in their purest form. They should be considered liberal propaganda pictures and that is what makes him and his work so controversial. But his films sure are eye-opening and thought provoking in ways that few other films are and for that Fahrenheit 11/9 warrants a recommendation.
He immediately juxtaposes Trump with Putin, and later on has a long segment comparing Trump with Hitler and they are both effective moments. The worst parts of Fahrenheit 11/9 is when Michael Moore is doing his shtick and being a public nuisance for the sake of trying to be funny. The best moments are when he presents facts and images that are guaranteed to make anyone, Democrat or Republican, writhe in their seats because of how uncomfortable and unfair our government has made people, especially African-American communities, systematically live in poverty. Also, some very awkward moments involving Trump and his daughter Ivanka with blatant sexual innuendo are very creepy. Michael Moore’s strongest point came when he condemned the media for making Trump into a superstar which paved the way for him to become President.
Most of what Micahel Moore says in Fahrenheit 11/9 is nothing new to anyone that watched the news or follows politics. The media is corrupt and pick who they want to rip apart and make into a sensation. It is the way Moore tells his story that make Fahrenheit 11/9 such a compelling work. If you hate Trump, by the end of the movie, you will hate him even more. If you like Trump, you probably will not bother to see it, or if you do, you will dismiss it as typical Michael Moore liberal trash. So sadly, unlike some other moving and topical pictures of 2018, Fahrenheit 11/9 does not have the power to transcend it’s message to a larger audience.
But Moore does have a few surprises that viewers may not like or expect but are without a doubt worth putting in the film. He has long been a harsh critic of the current established Democratic party and their leaders like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer. Well in this film he really attacks the democrats for being too soft with their compromises to fill their wallets when they could make a real change. At times he makes Hillary and the Democrat establishment almost look as bad as Trump to the point where the viewer might feel confused and think he is going soft on our current President. He even scrutinizes Obama for his actions when he came to Flint, Michigan (Michael Moore’s impoverished hometown) and instead of taking down the Republican’s in charge he pulled a stunt that seemed as if he cozied up to them.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is best when Michael Moore is just stating his facts and narrating what is coinciding with the images he put on screen. They may only be one sided but they are powerful enough to move an audience into reflecting on what got us into this mess, and what we can do to pull ourelves out and get back on the right track. The film itself also feels a little scattered and disjointed where he jumps from a water crisis in Flint, to a teacher’s strike in West Virginia, to the Parkland shootings, to almost every other major news topic we have had in the last four years. At times it was not as tighly focused as it could have been like Moore was trying to cram everything he could into a two hour movie. Despite all that it still had a lot of moments and scenes that are poignant and the final shot and the silence that accompanies it may be the most powerful. It is the weakest when he is on camera and humiliating people doing their jobs to try and get laughs. Fortunately he keps those moments to a minimum and Fahrenheit 11/9 is ultimately a very powerful and important time capsule of American life under the Trump administration.