Brian D. Johnson of Maclean’s reports on the premiere of Michael Moore’s latest movie, Captain Mike Across America, in Toronto:
It’s a “concert film” documenting Moore’s Slacker Uprising Tour through 62 American cities in swing states during the final days of the 2004 presidential campaign. He appeared with performers including Joan Baez, Roseanne Barr and REM. The tour, he says, was an attempt “to save the Democrats from themselves.”
I decided to attend the premiere, rather than the advance press screening, because Moore would be in attendance, which is always a show. And it turns the film into a kind of 3D concert movie—a big tent rally with the live theatre audience cheering on Mike along with the crowds onscreen.
“This is a little secret project we’ve had laying around for a while,” Moore told the TIFF audience as he introduced the film. “We shot it three years ago and decided to put on the shelf, because we were just too depressed.”
It’s not clear exactly why he decided to release it now, but it’s a bit odd—watching one rousing arena rally after another in a buoyant campaign that we know is headed for a heart-breaking defeat. And no matter how genuine Moore’s motives are, this film won’t do anything to dispel arguments by his critics that his mission is fueled by a super-sized ego. Although the TIFF audience seem to love every minute of the movie, and gave it a standing ovation, I found it unsettling to watch Moore being introduced over and over again, in a Groundhog Day cycle of adulation. Also, there is more of Moore the hectoring politican than Moore the sly comedian here. . . .
Afterwards, Moore engaged in a Q & A, and cited a critic who asked him why he put so much of himself in the film. He said that’s like asking U2 why there’s so much Bono. Moore admitted he wasn’t exactly “easy on the eyes” and can’t bear to watch himself on the big screen (he sat through the premiere with Canadian relatives).
Moore also talked about being the target of a massive smear campaign. “It even comes from Candians now, this disinformation campaign about me.” And he said what he left out of the film, for fear of encouraging it, was a series of attempt assaults on him during the tour—ranging from a knife-weilding attacker who jumped onstage to a cup of “scalding hot” Starbucks coffee. (The guy must have ordered an extra-extra hot no-foam latte). . . .
Of course, what Moore apparently neglected to mention is that it is not merely Canadians who are openly criticizing his dishonest methods, but his fellow left-leaning filmmakers.
And it isn’t only sympathetic Canadians who are put off by Moore’s self-indulgence. Glenn Kenny at Premiere.com writes:
A portion of this Michael Moore picture, then called Slacker Uprising Tour, was screened at Cannes as a work-in-progess on the same bill as Sicko. It is not apt to supplant Sicko, or anything else, in Moore’s filmo. As an intertitle early in the picture admits, the movie is about Moore’s “failed attempt” to save John Kerry from himself after Kerry’s too-little, too-late response to his Swift-boating. For those who remain highly agitated by the results of the 2004 election, this picture, its upbeat “we gotta keep fighting” coda notwithstanding, might play as a particularly unpleasant bout of scab-picking (hey, there’s an alternate title for ya). In the final weeks before the election, Moore toured multiple cities in multiple swing states, trying to get out the vote. And this film is, well, a lot of footage from that tour, mostly of Moore addressing mostly adoring audiences. (Advertisement for Myself is another potential alternate title.) . . .
Elsewhere, James Rocchi at Cinematical writes:
Captain Mike Across America is easily Moore’s weakest film, a self-congratulatory mess that has nothing to say about the American political process and tells you everything you need to know about the numbing cult of personality that’s sprung up around Moore. It’s not so bad that there’s a cult of personality around Moore — as I’ve said of Moore before, some Americans are so desperate for someone to speak truth to power that they’ll settle for someone saying anything to it. What’s bad is that Moore seems to be buying into his own myth, now, and here that seems both narcissistic and futile. . . .
Moore’s weakest film? Even worse than The Big One (1997), which revolved around a promotional book tour? This I gotta see.
SEP 11 UPDATE: Lou Lumenick of the New York Post calls the film “a self-tribute documentary that shows how Moore may have played an even bigger role than even Osama in getting Dubya re-elected with his 60-city college tour in 2004.” Yowch.
Behold the new teaser poster for There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as an oil prospector and Paul Dano as a preacher:
As Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere writes:
You can’t say that a one-sheet using the suggestion of an old, dog-eared Bible to spread awareness of an allegedly violent period film about the oil business that’s based on an anti-capitalism book isn’t, at the very least, striking. It’s saying, obviously, that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will be Blood (Paramount Vantage, 12.26) will address bedrock moral issues. Of course, all that blackness suggests somberness, bitterness and severity as well. But this is just a teaser poster (surfacing over three and a half months from release). Other themes and designs will surely follow.
And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here is a collection of clips that made the rounds a few months ago:
Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.
Restricted trailers are popping up all over the internet these days … but the strangest have to be the ads for Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf. Why are they strange? Because the makers of that film have already said that they are aiming for a PG-13 rating. So why would they raise the R-rated hopes of potential moviegoers?
Rumour has it that there might be an R or NC-17 version for IMAX theatres, but as far as I can tell, those are just rumours.
And of course there’s always the possibility — even probability — of an “unrated” DVD, but why would they advertise the DVD months before the movie has had a chance to play in theatres?
I have been idly wondering about this for a while, but it only came to the fore today after reading various posts on the subject at ScreenRant, Movie Marketing Madness, RopeOfSilicon.com and The Movie Blog. Check ‘em out, and the comments as well.
Variety‘s Alissa Simon is apparently more impressed with Exodus, working title The Margate Exodus, than The Guardian was:
Penny Woolcock’s gripping “Exodus” is a provocative, searingly political updating of the Old Testament story, with the Pharaoh as a right-wing politician and Moses as a terrorist. Shot in widescreen, with an eye-popping vision of dystopia that rivals Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men,” it shows a Promised Land where the oppressed are brutalized and become brutal, and terrible injustice leads to horrific terrorism. Slated for British hardtops and Channel 4 broadcast later this year, it could be manna in the hands of savvy distribs offshore. . . .
Pic stresses the human costs of fighting fire with fire, and the hypocrisy of saying “God told me to.” Powerful ending strikes absolutely the right note. . . .
The newest issue of BC Christian News is now online, and with it, my film column, which looks at three different things. First, it looks at the box-office woes of Evan Almighty — especially in comparison to the cultural impact, such as it is, of Knocked Up and Superbad. Second, it looks at three films — namely The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun, In Memory of Myself and One Hundred Nails — that will be at the Vancouver International Film Festival in three or four weeks. And third, it takes a brief look at the recently announced Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.