Friday, June 25, 2004

Movies For Guys Who Like Movies (About How This Administration Is A Godless Whore)

Fahrenheit 9/11 has been garnering lots of praise, including in today's Washington Post. Just for chuckles, let's look at how Post critics Ann Hornaday and Desson Thomson, both of whom gave the film favorable reviews, have a vastly different take on the same scene.

First up, Hornaday:

Most egregious is his treatment of Lila Lipscomb, a Flint mother of a dead soldier who tearfully reads his last letter home. Not content with that display, Moore follows her to the White House, where she breaks down in a fit of tears in a scene that is exploitative and gratuitous. Still, such overkill shouldn't obscure her central question: "For what?"

And on the other side of the fence, Thomson:

Perhaps most persuasive of all is the dramatic turnaround experienced by Lila Lipscomb, a Michigan mother. She changes from patriotic support for the Bush administration to heartbroken despair after she loses a son to the war. In one of the film's most affecting moments, Lipscomb finds herself facing an Iraqi woman who sits before cardboard placards protesting the war on Lafayette Square, right in front of the White House. Two people on opposing sides, suddenly find themselves experiencing common ground. Moments like this mark "Fahrenheit 9/11" as a potential cultural juggernaut -- a film for these troubling times.

So is the scene exploitative garbage or powerful testimony? USA Today's Claudia Puig sees both sides of the argument.

Among the most powerful moments: interviews with once gung-ho military personnel now uncertain about their Iraqi mission. A segment with a grieving mother whose son was killed in the war could appear calculated. But she is a willing participant in her own exploitation, choosing to share her pain in service of a broader message: the inhumanity of the war. Fahrenheit's graphic war footage may work more on our emotions than our intellect, but that doesn't make the film propaganda.

Film critics, of course, are allowed to disagree, it's just fun to watch.