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Fear and Goading

I’m not a huge fan of Michael Moore’s documentary style, though his movies are always great yarns, and Bowling for Columbine is not a great film. But it did what many good films don’t – ask tough questions. I reviewed the film and delved a little into those questions in an article for The Times Literary Supplement in December of 2002. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Michael Moore’s first film, Roger & Me (1989), was a documentary pursuit of Roger Smith, chief executive of General Motors at a time when GM was North America’s largest car manufacturer. In it, Moore chased Smith across the North-Eastern United States, trying in vain to persuade him to visit Flint, Michigan, Moore’s hometown, to apologize to its citizens for having transferred GM’s factories from Flint to Mexico. The attempt was unsuccessful. But Moore’s style -the baseball cap, stubble and slouch, his ill- fitting jeans and hobbled gait -became something for left-wingers to cheer, right-wingers to bemoan. His new film, Bowling for Columbine, is about guns, and has grossed more than $10 million -a lot for a documentary. Has that success anything to do with the fact that the film was released the day the Washington Beltway sniper claimed his eighth victim? The criticism directed at both the film and the author suggests not. Bowling for Columbine was first shown at Cannes, where it won a prize. In the United States, its reception has been mixed: Moore has been described as “dangerous”, “irresponsible” and a “schlub”. Oprah, on the other hand, called Columbine a “must see”.

And here’s the full article.

Movie Poster for Bowling For Columbine

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