A great documentary is an unbiased one. A great documentary can turn your brain inside out. It can kill thoughts which you were certain you would always have. They change minds and dispel myths, enrage nations and bring unseen beautiful people and stories in to peoples lives.
I guess my main problem with Michael Moore’s feature documentaries was their obvious heavy approach, their set (and often painfully set up) pieces, the way he treats his “heart wrenching” family stories with an air of disdain and his massive political weight often hampering everything else. Plus he’s never unbiased, has only made me laugh, never changed my mind an basically just makes 90 minute films about as arresting as those on FOX news.
Kevin Leffer has a bit of a bee in his bonnet about Moore and his complacency about his home town of Flint, Michigan and has set out to put him up in the stocks with his documentary on a documentarian, Shooting Micheal Moore. Not exactly a small target, the star/director partly succeeds in dishing out a little bit of salty gruel for Moore to swallow without even getting an interview with the guy. He heads for members of Moore’s crews, people who have participated in his blinkered film making and most importantly it would seem for Leffer, the people of Flint, Michigan, using Moore’s own tried and tested film making formula.
He heads for his tax records and his spending habits and in one scene, trying to mirror Moore, decides that popping a life size card board cut out of his biggest target, George Bush Jr, on the big man’s front lawn could some how hold some kind of poignant message.
Sadly what seems like a good idea eventually back fires in to a pretty average documentary film about a pretty average film maker. Though the stories from victims at his furious hands in the editing suite are shocking and their are some well conceived ideas lurking in the footage, the film loses the gravitas of these moments by filling the rest of the film with nothing but hot air.
Leffer’s voice sounds scarily like his subject’s own Mid Western drawl which automatically makes the film feel like a Moore film; something which put me in a bad mood from the get go and by the climax (or anticlimax) of his investigation I was just as tired of Leffer as I would have been of Moore after 90 minutes.
Having read about Moore and seen all of his films (I was even a bit of a fan of some of the stories on The Awful Truth) Shooting Michael Moore sadly doesn’t touch on anything out of the ordinary and seems like a bit of a pointless exercise to me. A doumentary Pointing out that Michael Moore is a self facilitating hypocrite is the equivalent of telling anyone with any sense that that Russel Crowe is probably a bit of a dick.
It’s just common knowledge isn’t it?