Posts Tagged ‘Bowling for Columbine’

WHERE TO INVADE NEXT: 2 ½ STARS. “picking flowers, not weeds.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.58.08 PMIt’s been quiet on the Michael Moore front of late. The Oscar winning documentary filmmaker has been keeping a low profile but keeping busy making a movie he describes as “epic.” Shot quietly in several continents “Where to Invade Next” is his look at how and why the United States keeps the military industrial complex alive. It’s a documentary but it plays like a follow-up to his lone narrative film, “Canadian Bacon.”

The concept of “Where to Invade Next” is pretty simple. Moore “invades” Italy, France, Finland, Germany, Tunisia and Norway to basically illustrate how much better the citizens of those countries have it compared to his fellow Americans. He learns Italians get a month paid leave, a “thirteenth month” set aside for enjoyment. Also, France has great food and an unsurprisingly open attitude about sex education, Finland has the best food and Norway’s legalization of drugs and saw a drop in addiction.

The tone of “Where to Invade Next” is a little different. No, he hasn’t suddenly joined the Republican party. This time out he says he’ll be “picking flowers, not weeds.” In other words, he’s looking at the bright side for once.

The material is presented with Moore’s usual amiable everyman persona. His fans will expect his brand of awe-shucks amazement, but for the first time in one of his documentaries it feels like a performance. It seems as though the movie, while entertaining, had its thesis firmly in place before the individual invasions. Moore’s idea is to illustrate how progressive ideas can lead to happier populaces and it appears he has tailored the material to fit his premise. It is a message perfectly tailored for Moore’s audience—he’s preaching to the choir on this one—but it appears to be more a treatise than a documentary. As treatises go it’s an entertaining one but the information feels too cherry picked to have the impact I’m sure Moore intended.


bowling_hestonThis is an extremely effective, if not rambling film that asks the question “Are we (America) a nation of gun nuts, or are we just nuts?” Director Michael Moore uses the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado as a jumping off point, then takes us on a journey that includes stops in Michigan, where it seems everyone owns a gun, a sit-in at K-Mart’s corporate headquarters and an amusing side trip to Moore’s idealized Canada. This movie is all over the place, and offers very few answers to the difficult questions it asks, but I think it was Moore’s strategy to present the facts and figures and get people thinking for themselves. Moore’s everyman appearance is put to good use in the film’s most effective scene. He talks his way into gun-nut Charlton Heston’s house for an interview, claiming to be a member of the NRA. Once inside he gradually warms Heston up before asking the hard questions about the consequences of living in a heavily armed society. Heston stiffens, ending the interview and walking away. Moore’s camera follows Heston as he shuffles down a long hall. The Grand Wizard of the NRA is revealed to for what he is, an old man, and not the Moses of the gun movement. It’s impressive footage that caps a film full of powerful images and ideas.