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Something wicked in the states of America

 

AND Imelda Marcos thought she had it bad when Ramona Diaz made a documentary about her. President George W. Bush is treated with the same dishonor, and in this case, it comes courtesy of controversial Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore.

In his opus, Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore presents the President as a schemer who is not unlike the fictional TV villain JR Ewing. While Diaz tried to be fair with her subject, Moore lets it be known that he’s no fan of President Bush. Fahrenheit 9-11 is all about the way the Bush Administration had handled the 9/11 attacks. The film kicks off during the 2000 US Presidential Election with Moore’s theories on how Bush had cheated his way to the White House taking center stage.

The movie then moves on to the President’s lengthy vacation during the summer of 2001, which then leads to the tragic events of September 11. Moore shows a lot of file footage on Bush vacationing, swinging his golf club and behaving much like a former Philippine president.  The movie’s most telling moment happens when a Secret Service agent informs Bush, seen in a kindergarten classroom full of kids, that America is under attack.


Fahrenheit 9-11 is both fascinating and revealing. As with the film Imelda, Moore lets his subject loose through the vast film footage he has compiled. The bulk of the material shows the President being arrogant or acting like a less than brilliant college jock who by accident, gets to become dean of the university.

As with his previous film Bowling for Columbine, Moore makes no bones about being biased. His intentions are clear and Fahrenheit 9-11 rips the President apart with Moore’s numerous accusations and speculations. There’s no need for me to elaborate on the conjectures he makes on the Bin Laden and Bush connection—just see the film and listen to what Moore has to say.

Fahrenheit 9-11 comes complete with Moore’s filmmaking trademark. First and foremost, it entertains and it’s spiced with humor, most of it at the expense of Bush. Moore even inserts clips from the classic TV series Dragnet to emphasize a point and to deliver a few laughs (it’s pretty much what director Michael Sarne did with Myra Breckinridge). At one point, the theme from the Greatest American Hero (“Believe It Or Not”) accompanies shots of Bush behaving like a moron.

And as usual, Moore is as manipulative as ever, but he makes no apologies. He’s actually less combative in this one and his jolly, scruffy self is seldom seen on screen. The filmmaker reportedly didn’t want to steal the limelight from his subject.

The film may be too much of a “President Bush Dearest” tome, but it is forceful and makes you pause to think and ask, is this all true? As the old song goes, it’s all up to you to believe it or not. It’s a provocative film and it does have a heart. Said heart reveals itself whenever Moore touches on the victims of the 9-11 attack and they include the innocent Iraqis in Baghdad as well as the many foreigners presently stationed in Iraq.

Back to fiction

Another Stephen King story hits the screen. This time it’s Secret Window, the tale of best-selling author Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp). He’s suffering from writer’s block and he’s just inches away from having a nervous breakdown. To compound his misery, a strange southern gentleman called John Shooter (John Torturro) comes knocking on Rainey’s remote lakeside cabin and accuses him of plagiarizing his work.

This is shocking news for Rainey and he gets an even bigger shock when the plagiarism is proven to be true.

Secret Window is a typical Stephen King story. The details and elements are familiar and it could play like an extension of Misery (1990) and The Dark Half (1993). Both stories centered on authors having a really bad hair day. Hell, even the star of the former—Timothy Hutton—is in Secret Window playing the lover of Rainey’s estranged wife (Maria Bello).

Unfortunately, the plot of Secret Window isn’t at par with the two other King stories. It’s derivative and predictable and the film version doesn’t get any help from David Koepp’s unremarkable direction.

As the beleaguered writer, Depp does impart an author going through a bad hair day, literally and figuratively. He uses everything he’s got to distract viewers from guessing the denouement halfway through the film. Perhaps it’s time Stephen King accused himself of plagiarism.

Star rating:

Fahrenheit 9/11 ***

Secret Window **

Star rating :  **

Rating System

****     Masterpiece **         Fair
***       Admirable  *           Bad

By Dennis Ladaw

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Today’s Front Page February 29, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 29, 2020