I was one of the many people who lined up to see Michael Moore's latest documentary. Even though Karen had the foresight to order tickets online days in advance, we still had to wait in a long line to pick up the tickets at the theater. People who walked in consistently remarked that they had never seen the theater so busy. We eventually got our tickets, found our seats and settled in.
The movie itself was quite striking. Parts of it were hilarious while others, especially the beheading, were simply horrifying. Moore's treatment of the 9/11 attack was thoughtful and effective, bringing back tears that have not dried up despite the number of times the events of that day have been rebroadcast. The portion of the film where Moore read the Patriot Act to Congress over the loudspeaker of an ice cream truck (that's not revealing, it's in the trailer) is also inspired. It highlights the eviscerating wit that has served Moore so well.
The film is not perfect though. Some of it sinks to pranks that ring hollow or into just plain silliness. The film also does not help to distinguish Moore's behavior from that of the administration he is railing against. The assessment that F911 is a two-hour negative campaign ad is not without merit.
Calling the film uneven is warranted which leads one to wonder why it was so successful at Cannes. I think the reason for this is not because it is an impeccable documentary. Rather, it is a high profile, and alarmingly rare, piece that is critical of George Bush and his administration. Our country, which once had a proud and honorable tradition of political discourse, is finally waking up to the fact that our leader may be doing us a great disservice. We have finally found a dissenting voice that is speaking loud enough to catch the attention of every distracted citizen.
The movie is getting people talking. It is getting people involved; provoking questions; inspiring action. In a country where so many don't even bother to vote, that is an accomplishment. F911 is as partisan as the things it criticizes, but the reactions to it are strong on both sides of the fence. Outside of the theater it seems to be generating the kind of multi-lateral discourse that the film itself is not capable of and that is what makes it worth seeing.