From Publishers Weekly
Moore's provocative polemic, released early in the election year of 2004, criticized the Bush administration in a number of ways. It broke all records for documentary attendance and revenues, but also drew a blast of hostile attacks, not only, predictably, from right-wing partisans but also from more mainstream critics, who found it distorted or downright untruthful. Acknowledging Moore's deliberate attempt to influence the election against the Republican incumbency, Toplin argues that the negative fallout (not the film itself) led to a voter backlash with the opposite effect. Toplin (who has also written about Oliver Stone, another gadfly) reviews Moore's history, beginning with his attack on General Motors, Roger and Me
, and analyzes the personal and humorous approach Moore has employed from the beginning. While clearly on Moore's side and convinced of the fundamental truth of the film's argument—Toplin believes it "made history"—he concedes that some of its points could have been made less controversially. Nevertheless, the "most important message of Fahrenheit 9/11
is that the war with Iraq was unnecessary." Toplin is mostly addressing his political community, but film students may also pick up some valuable information. Photos. (Apr. 20)
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"This is a fascinating and thoughtful look at the complicated force of nature that is Michael Moore and the very serious issues of politics, partisanship, craft, and aesthetics that get stirred up in the wake of his films."