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Michael Moore at the height of his game. He is stunned by the American affection for violence, and starts off from some particularly violent incidents such as the murders at Columbine High School in Littleton and the murder of a primary school girl in his home town of Flint to find explanations for this. He manages to show his own surprise at the result, and he shares his inability to find answers. Having the large number and free availability of guns as one starting point was good, but leads to nothing – the Canadians have an equal number, and they just refuse to shoot each other. He finds traces in the news media, how fear is being sold at any time, and how large industries have very good reasons to keep feeding the existential fear against your neighbours. This path he does not explore to the end, actually he does not follow through with any path, but being with him when he desperately looks down yet another alley and yet another statistic where he could find hints of an answer is very impressive. There are touching moments such as the footage of the mother of the 6 year old shooter and the police investigator who interviewed him after he shot the girl, there is a somehow spectacular success when K-Mart caves in and agrees to not sell ammunition anymore. There are pointless effort at drawing the celebrity card with the owner of the restaurant where the kid’s mother works, and an ambiguous success in exposing Charlton Heston’s role as a gun advocate. The latter has drawn the most attention, and there has been some pity for the old Moses. I am slightly ashamed to say that I was happy to see him shamed, because he has built a nice and generous after-career career with the Rifle Association, and he is feeding off the fears and paranoia of a sick society.

Michael Moore has invented a new genre, I believe, and that may be called the “Michael Moore-umentary” – it is not neutral, not at all, it is emotional and biased in its approach, but it does not hide that fact. It is like a conversation with a friend in a bar going emotional: it will not convince you if your opinion was different to begin with, but it will require you to listen and to talk, which may be a good step into the right direction.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/bowling_for_columbine/

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2 Comments

  1. An interesting film from a very talented documentary filmmaker/journalist. Moore knows how to get his opinion across and does it very well.

    • it is really fascinating how he manages to be so to the point, funny and entertaining, but never loses sight of his agenda. Like him or not, this is a crafty bit of filmmaking. unfortunately most of his other films do not have as good an issue at their hearts, are sometimes rather one-idea documentaries that should have been much shorter works.


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