- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2003

Documentary fiction

“Michael Moore’s moral stupidity, so ratcheted up by September 11, is likely to drive his next film, a documentary about the ‘twin errant sons of different oilmen’ — George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. The filmmaker is hoping to release the movie, called ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ a few months before the presidential election, to ‘make sure that Bush isn’t returned.’ All signs point to his usual techniques — facts stripped of context and detail, dark insinuations, and outright lies, all leavened by pop music and Strangelovian irony.

“Tracing some of Moore’s recent comments, one can piece together the argument — or rather the hazy impressions, for Moore never constructs an argument — that will make up this so-called documentary. Moore will insinuate that the United States created Osama. … He will tell us that in the late ‘90s the oil firm Unocal held a meeting with Taliban representatives in Houston, ‘when Bush was governor,’ to talk about building a pipeline through Afghanistan. He will imply that this project was the reason the United States gave humanitarian aid to the Taliban, until ‘the deal went south,’ and ‘suddenly the Taliban were evil.’ And thus, Michael Moore will finally reveal the awful truth that only he is courageous enough to admit about why the United States really went to war with the Taliban.

“And you can be sure that the trendy sophisticates in Cannes and Hollywood will once again rise to their feet to honor their mendacious auteur, European intellectuals will bow before his Manichaean simplicities, and the international radical Left will cheer the moral obtuseness of the man who has made his fortune turning the documentary into fiction.”

Kay S. Hymowitz, writing on “Michael Moore, Humbug,” in the summer issue of City Journal

TV freakout

“I gave up television.

“I’d tried this before, but never quite got it right. Previously I’d give up, say, everything but the football game. Or everything but ‘South Park’ and ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ This year I figured it out: even five minutes of television is too much. …

“I haven’t watched any TV for more than a month now, and except for a brief period during the war, scarcely at all since the new year. …

“It only takes a few minutes to ‘learn’ the one thing television has to teach — the battering to death of your freak-out reflex.

“But we need our freak-out reflexes. They’re essential to our sanity. When you cease to be horrified by the horrifying, you really cease to exist as a person.”

Matthew Taibbi, writing on “The Glass Pipe,” in the July 23 issue of New York Press

Buzz monster

“Like Godzilla … an unwieldy beast has sunk its jaws into Hollywood this year. …

“The beast is called ‘word of mouth.’ …

“A kind of instant, grass-roots ‘word-of-mouth’ [is] amplified through the megaphone of the Internet. …

“More and more ordinary fans are sending advance reviews of films they’ve seen at test screenings and previews to movie-themed Web sites. Or they’re sending out ad hoc reviews to friends via multiple-destination e-mails. …

“This summer, studios are feeling the brunt of bad buzz. Cinema attendance is down … and there’s a murmuring consensus that only a handful — such as ‘Finding Nemo’ — have been worth recommending.

“‘Hollywood is pulling its hair out trying to figure out how to market its movies amidst the new world of Internet buzz,’ says Anthony Kusich, analyst for Reel Source Inc., a box-office tracking firm. ‘First-time viewers are having much more say in which movies make it and which ones don’t, creating potential audiences for stuff they like and killing off audiences for stuff they don’t.’ …

“Ticket sales for the ‘The Hulk,’ for example, dropped 70 percent in its second weekend, the worst drop for a No. 1 movie ever.”

Daniel B. Wood, writing on “Bad summer movies wither on Web grapevine,” Thursday in the Christian Science Monitor

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