Film Reviews by Ben Silverman '20
September 21, 2018
Political commentary movies, specifically political documentaries, are somewhat of a controversial topic. The most notorious “offender” of this crime is the brilliant director Michael Moore, a political activist and well known director and producer who released both Fahrenheit 9/11 and the sequel Fahrenheit 11/9. There are numerous quantities of other political commentary movies and directors who specialize in making and producing them, however Michael Moore is the most universally known and definitely the most notorious.
The two most recent, and the biggest, political documentaries are Vice and Fahrenheit 11/9. Vice, released on December 25th, 2018, is less of a commentary than a documentary. It follows a 3rd person perspective of the career [and rise to power] of Dick Cheney, the Vice President to President George W. Bush. It is an excellently made movie, once again Christian Bale does a fantastic job of transforming into his character and making the viewers feel like he really is Dick Cheney. However, as good of a movie as it is, it doesn’t hold the power that a political commentary has. This is where Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 11/9 take center stage.
Michael Moore is one of the most loved and hated directors in the movie industry. In June 2004, he released the first Fahrenheit movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. It followed, and criticized, President Bush’s decision to move into Iraq and Afghanistan, accusing him of weaponizing the 9//11 terror attacks as a propaganda instrument. This was highly controversial, and although it was well reviewed, he came under fire from many sides of the political aisle. He is, undoubtedly, a Democratic activist and is trademarked for unafraid of media backlash or the public eye. He isn’t afraid to do ridiculous, but sometimes necessary, ridiculous acts simply to make a point.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is one of the best documentary and commentary films I have ever seen. It captivates the story of “The Rise of Trump”, personifies the key characters, explains motives and the background, and ties it up with a fantastic finale. It follows not only the Trump administration, but covers everything from the rise of Hitler to the crisis in Flint, Michigan. It is abundantly clear, simply from the nature and content of the film, that Moore is not trying to prove a political point but instead make us wonder about how Trump came to power. He criticizes Trump greatly, but he also takes shots at Hillary and Obama. It really makes you wonder about the people that are greatly admired, and how different they are from current (and past) leaders. Moore does an excellent job of giving context as well. He ties the Flint water crisis into the rise of Trump perfectly, something that many people don’t even take into account. And he finishes it excellently, tying together all of his points and commentary into a huge finale that makes you leave the theater with a lot of questions.
Although highly controversial, political commentaries are extremely important. It is not only an excellent way to make a point or ask a question, but also connects political activists with a larger base and gets a message out clearer and more efficiently an a New york Times op-ed or book ever could.