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Fahrenheit 11/9 - Film Review

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published October 29th 2018
Michael Moore on how America ended up with Trump
In Michael Moore's latest documentary, not all of the filmmaker's ire is reserved for Donald Trump. The president is portrayed simply as an opportunist - the obvious result in an America where a lot of things are wrong and broken.

Moore instead takes us on a tour of everything screwed up in the USA. The idea is for us to understand how Trump succeeded. The film begins with a long montage. It's the lead up to the presidential election and pundits of every stripe are saying Hillary Clinton will win the election - there is absolutely no way Americans will elect Trump. This slowly unravels as the montage makes it to election night and the unbelievable happens. Then Moore asks his audience, "How the fuck did this happen?"

Then we delve into the rotten. We learn about the shocking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where Republican governor Rick Snyder was responsible for an infrastructure plan which resulted in thousands of people, including children, being poisoned with lea,d. Next we meet school teachers who must protest in order to receive a living wage in West Virginia. Another of the USA's most enduring problems, mass shootings, is also highlighted, as Moore meets the students fighting for change following the horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Moore also lays blame for Trump's ascendancy on the Democrats and their willingness to compromise. Moore traces this back to Bill Clinton's presidency, where economic liberalisation and mass incarceration policies mirrored right-wing ideas. Current day Democrats aren't spared either, whether by ignoring their base or suppressing popular political movements (such as taking down Bernie Sanders), Moore points the finger at the establishment of the left, and shows how this has contributed to Trump's success.

The film does contain a few of Moore's trademark stunts - he sprays Flint water onto the lawns of the Michigan governor's mansion - but the stunts are fewer and more tepid these days. Moore is too angry for stunts. Instead, he is trying to lead a call to action. Not only does he highlight what he thinks is wrong, he spotlights the people fighting for change - the paediatrician in Flint trying to get the nation's attention, the teachers not giving in until they get a decent pay rise, or the kids fighting for gun reform after Parkland - and this is where the film is strongest.

And despite the stunts and occasional silliness (a long-winded segment near the end compares Trump to Hitler), Moore remains an astute observer of contemporary America and its politics. His lucid analysis of the Democrat's failures is spot on. His summary of the crisis in Flint and his seething anger about the situation is worth the price of admission alone.

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Why? For America.
When: In cinemas November 1
Where: Select cinemas nationally
Cost: Varies
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