The New Jerry Lewis

Michael Moore apparently received a twenty-minute standing ovation after a Cannes screening of his new film, Fahrenheit 9-11 (IMDB). Wonkette’s entry is snarkier than mine, though to my credit, I came up with the Jerry Lewis bit before I read her entire entry. Drudge (shudder) has the full scoop on the enthusiatsic reception of Moore’s film.

Update: Reviews of the film have been intriguing thus far: GreenCine links to Peter Brunette’s indieWIRE review. Brunette notes that

This time around, Moore drops the zaniness and high entertainment value evident in “Bowling for Columbine,” in favor of an elegiac approach that is less funny but ultimately, maybe, more politically effective.

Here’s hoping that Miramax can find a way to distribute the film before this fall’s election. I’m guessing that the Cannes buzz will do nothing but increase the film’s profile and that we’ll see the film pretty quickly.

Meanwhile A.O. Scott, in an article on the film’s buzz, notes that Moore’s influence can be measured in Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me. Scott adds that it’s now easy to forget that Moore’s humorous, didactic, populist filmmaking style is relatively new:

Fifteen years after “Roger and Me,” which took on General Motors, this style of filmmaking seems so familiar, so naturally suited to populist finger-pointing, that it is easy to minimize the originality of Mr. Moore’s first film and the discomfort it caused. For a long time, the ethics of documentary filmmaking, especially about weighty social and political issues, had been essentially journalistic. The films, even when their intentions were polemical, strove to be objective and rigorously impersonal. In the cinéma vérité rule book, the on-camera presence of the director was forbidden, and when documentarians did appear in their own movies it was in the role of self-effacing narrator or interviewer.

To a certain extent, I think Scott’s right. Many early critics didn’t even regard Roger and Me as a documentary (Errol Morris faced similar problems with The Thin Blue Line). And Moore certainly departs from the cinéma vérité style of filmmaking; however, even in cinéma vérité documentaries (such as Barbara Kopple’s amazing Harlan County, USA), the presence of the director is clearly in evidence beyond a mere “narrator” or “interviewer.” In general, though, Scott’s piece illustrates just how much Moore has been able to contribute to documentary filmmaking.

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