Showing posts with label Michael Moore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Moore. Show all posts

Friday, October 5, 2018

"Fahrenheit 11/9" and The Week in Reviews

[I review Michael Moore's new movie "Fahrenheit 11/9" as well as the HBO documentary "Jane Fonda in Five Acts" and the DVD "Bad Samaritan."  The Book of the Week is "Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Senso."]

Fahrenheit 11/9

Michael Moore tries to figure out just how Donald Trump became President.

Most of us who were alive then know exactly where we were when we heard that President Kennedy had been shot.  I was in chemistry class and the idea that our President could be dead was so out of the realm of possibility for me that when the principle made the announcement over the classroom intercom and said our President had been shot, I thought he meant our STUDENT COUNCIL president!  Likewise, most of us Baby Boomers remember where we were and what we felt when we heard that John Lennon had been assassinated because that was another impossibility.  And most recently, liberals and Hillary supporters no doubt remember exactly where they were and what they felt when they learned that Donald Trump had become the 45th President of the United States.

And I do.

I was sitting up watching the returns alone because Hubby was away on business. I, like so many other Americans, was pretty confident that Hillary Clinton would become the first woman President of the United States.  Only two days before, the polls had said that Hillary had an 85% chance of becoming the first woman President. Trump had also been exposed as a womanizing sexual aggressor in that infamous Billy Bush tape.  It seemed like a slam dunk that Hillary would become the 45th President of the United States. I had already posted on Facebook my happiness that my newly born granddaughter would see a woman President in her lifetime.  But as the hours ticked by, euphoria turned to disbelief as it became apparent that Donald Trump was going to be the next President.  As I sat in that chair staring at the TV at 2:30 in the morning of November 9th I thought "How the f**k did that happen?"

And that is exactly the question that writer/producer/director Michael Moore poses and attempts to answer in his new documentary.

First of all, yes, he blames the Russians.  He also blames James Comey.  But most of all he blames...Gwen Stefani!

Gwen Stafani? According to Moore, it seems that Gwen Stafani was paid more for her seat on "The Voice" than Trump was paid for his "Celebrity Apprentice" TV show.  Trump was not happy about that, so he decided to do a bit of grandstanding to call attention to himself so that NBC would give him a raise.  He decided that announcing he was running for President would be the thing.  That's when we saw him grandly rolling down the escalator to make his big announcement.  But it didn't have the effect on NBC that he wanted.  In fact, NBC cancelled his show.  Moore asserts Trump didn't really intend to run for President but he had booked two rallies so he went anyway and during those rallies had a bit of an epiphany.  He liked rallies.  He liked stirring people up.  He liked being the center of attention. Maybe running for President for real wasn't such a bad idea!  And that, my friends, according to Michael Moore, is how it all started.

But just because Trump was running for President didn't mean he would win, right?

Moore was a bit of a Cassandra, Cassandra being the Trojan Princess who uttered prophecies that were true but that no one believed.  No one believed Trump could win ...except Michael Moore.  In fact, pundits unequivocally said before 11/9 that it was impossible but Michael Moore sounded the alarm. He said Trump could win. He is a Michigan boy and knew the unrest that was swirling around the common folk and they were not happy with the status quo.  No one believed Cassandra and no one believed Michael Moore either.

And Michael Moore presents the perfect storm of events that led to that happening.

There was the outrage of the Flint water crisis when Governor Rick Snyder, a businessman with no public service experience, signed an Emergency Management bill that allowed him to oust the mayors, city councils and other officials of four cities in Michigan and replace them with businessmen he appointed to run the cities.  Those cities were Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Detroit...and Flint.  Those cities were also predominantly black and it didn't matter that there was no emergency.  Water for Flint had been supplied from the clean water of Lake Huron but Snyder and his cronies decided to build another pipeline that would use the water from the filthy Flint River which ended up poisoning the locals with lead though of course no one would admit that was happening.  It was all in the name of greed and corruption. And when all of this came to light and President Obama went to Flint, but didn't do anything about it as the inhabitants had hoped, people just gave up on the establishment.  And, then, during Hillary's campaign, she didn't even bother to go to Michigan because she thought it was in the bag.

You see, Moore isn't placing all of the blame on the Republicans.  The Democrats clearly dropped the ball.  In fact, he contends there was some hanky panky on the part of the Democrats when several states gave the Democratic nomination to Hillary when Bernie had won more votes.  But there is plenty of blame to go around. Moore also blames the Electoral College - I mean in the last 16 years, two Presidents were elected who lost the popular vote. How does that happen?

And it wouldn't be a Michael Moore movie if he didn't throw in gun violence, sexual harassment, low teachers' pay and a host of other issues that he believed helped create the Trump Presidency. He also asserts that we all knew what Trump was. He was doing everything he did in plain sight.  He talked about grabbing women's private parts, he was a known womanizer, he hung out with the Russians and even said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. And no one cared. Moore even throws himself under the bus.  

And yes, he does "go there." He compares Trump's ascendancy to Hitler's and there are some potent similarities.  When Hitler came to power, Germany was the most educated, cultured and well-read country in the world.  Most towns had several newspapers.  The people were informed and involved, so how did someone like Hitler take over the country?  Little by little.  As Mussolini once said "If you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, no one notices."  And that is how fascism takes over.

So there is the usual Michael Moore controversial stuff here. But most would agree Moore is right on point when he blames the media who couldn't get enough of Trump and basically gave him free publicity and an apathetic populace who had given up on the establishment and just didn't vote. 

But this film is much more than a diatribe on the Trump Presidency.  It is also a call to arms. 

Moore shows how our freedoms are already in jeopardy and if we give up and don't vote because we think our votes don't matter, don't be surprised if all of a sudden we wake up one day and we are no longer free. Democracy isn't something that we are entitled to.  It's something we have to keep alive. We need to care about all of the issues that Moore brings up in this film and we need to speak up about them.

The film ends with those Parkland teens using their freedom of speech to agitate over gun violence and school shootings and it's clear that Moore thinks it is the young people who can save us.  I hope so.

Rosy the Reviewer says...whether you agree with Moore or not, you can always count on him to make a compelling film. This is a powerful film about the state of American politics and has much food for thought, and it made me cry.

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018)

Another controversial figure.  Eighty-year-old Jane Fonda and her life and times.

Divided into five chapters, four of which are named after the men in Jane's life, it is an effective way to tell her story because Jane herself admits she didn't know herself very well and was often defined by men.

Act One - "Henry."

Jane was the daughter of Henry Fonda, an acting icon who epitomized solid American Midwestern values.  Growing up, Jane felt she had to be a certain kind of girl, a good girl, because she was his daughter.  But Henry was also a difficult man who cheated on Jane's mother with a younger woman which led Jane's mother to kill herself.  Of course no one told Jane and her brother, Peter, that.  It was swept under the carpet and it wasn't until she went to boarding school and someone showed her a story on her mother that she learned the truth.  That's not something that is easy to get over.

Jane grew up a Daddy pleaser and was still living at home when she was 21.  Her new stepmother told her she needed to move out and that's when she met acting teacher Lee Strasberg who took her into his class and encouraged her.  She came alive.  Her career took off on Broadway and eventually in film where she specialized in ingenues. But despite her success, she still needed to get out from behind her father's shadow so she went to France.  And that's when she met Vadim.

Act Two - "Vadim"

Roger Vadim had been married to Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve (who I quote all of the time because she said "At a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your ass."  No truer words spoken) and was also a charismatic French director.  When Jane met him she allowed him to mold her which is how she ended up as Barbarella.  In France she also became politicized. She married Vadim, they had a daughter together, and Jane started engaging in more serious film projects.  Up until then she had mostly played ingenues but when she starred in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They" followed by "Klute," and she won and Oscar, everything changed. She started to be taken seriously as an actress. She also left Vadim and became an activist.

Act Three - "Tom"

She met political activist and one of the Chicago Seven, Tom Hayden, and married him.  He didn't approve of the Hollywood lifestyle so she pared down, lived in reduced circumstances, did her own shopping and cooking, didn't have a washing machine or dishwasher and helped Tom in "The Movement."  But The Movement needed money and that's how Jane came to do the Workout tapes.  She was into fitness and figured that was what she could do to contribute to the Revolution.  I would guess all of those women who bought her tapes didn't realize they were helping her leftist politics!  It was during this time that Jane started to do films with a message - "The China Syndrome (1979)," which actually foreshadowed what happened at Three Mile Island and "9 to 5 (1980)," which called attention to the sexual harassment of women office workers well before the #Metoo Movement.

Act Four - "Ted"

Tom Hayden was a controlling husband so Jane moved on to Ted Turner.  He called her the day after her divorce from Tom.  They fell in love, she gave up her career, and they had ten years together but she felt that to be with him she had to hide a part of herself. He never wanted to be alone and Jane's feminism was taking shape.

So as we move on to Act Five - what do you think that one will be called?  I remember saying to Hubby, I would imagine it will be called "Jane."  And I was right.

Act Five - "Jane"

Now at 80, Jane can look back and see that her life was defined by men.  But no more.  She always adopted the lives of the men she was with but finally realized that she didn't need a man and now at 80 her career is still going strong with the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie," reuniting with Robert Redford in "Our Souls at Night" and starring in the popular "Book Club."  She also looks great.  I want the name of her plastic surgeon.

Director Susan Lacy interviews Jane throughout the film and uses never-before-seen footage and interviews with friends and co-workers.  But it's Jane herself who makes this film so extraordinary.  She is open, candid and vulnerable. It's not all "Look at me, I'm Jane Fonda and I've had a great life!"  She has been a controversial figure and she knows it.  She has regrets.  She regrets going to North Vietnam and being used as propaganda (something many Americans still haven't forgiven her for); she regrets not being a better mother; and she regrets that she needed to have plastic surgery and "wasn't brave enough" to let herself age naturally, but in the end she says, "I am what I am," and is happy to have found herself.

Rosy the Reviewer Jane worth a two hour and twenty minute movie?  Yes, hers has been a life well-lived and she shows us that it's never too late to find ourselves.

Bad Samaritan (2018)

What do you do when you are a petty burglar and while robbing a home discover a woman being held captive there?

That's what happens to young Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) who has figured out that being a valet in Portland is a good way to rob houses.  While people dine, he takes their car, and rather than parking it, heads to their house and robs them.  I remember saying to Hubby while watching this film that I must not have a criminal mind because it never occurred to me that a valet might do that.  Now I don't trust them!

However, when Sean arrives at arrogant and surly Cale Erendreich's (David Tennant) house he gets more than he bargained for.  He discovers a woman named Katie (Kerry Condon), chained and gagged and a very scary torture room in the garage.  What should he do?  He may be a thief but he's not a bad person, not really.  But how does he explain being in that house?  So he places an anonymous call to the police but Cale is one step ahead of him. Written by Brandon Boyce and directed by Dean Devlin, the film turns into a cat and mouse game as Sean tries to save the girl with Cale getting demonic delight by not only trying to ruin Sean's life but his family's and friends' lives as well.  Oh, yeah, Cale is also trying to kill everyone in his path too.

Doctor Who and "Broadchurch" fans will not recognize their hero, David Tennant.  He is one creepy guy in this film and he hams it up big time, but it's enjoyable (in a creepy way) seeing him have so much fun  The film plays like a Lifetime Movie, but, hey, I like Lifetime Movies and all in all it's a good little thriller with an engaging young leading man and a woman FBI agent who eventually gets the job done.

And let me just say, the moral of the story is - If you want the job done right, get a woman to do it!

Rosy the Reviewer says...far-fetched and a bit sleazy but a surprisingly good thriller.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

124 to go!

Have YOU see this classic film?

Senso (1954)
("The Wanton Countess")

An Italian countess gives up everything for love. Yes, it's one of those kinds of movies.

But I love them!

Set in Venice and Verona during the Italian-Austrian War of Unification right before Giuseppe Garibaldi expelled Austrians and helped unite Venice with the rest of Italy, this is the story of a bored Italian Countess who meets and falls in love with a dashing Austrian soldier.  Sadly, the soldier is a cad. It's a romantic melodrama and this is the kind of movie I love.

The film begins during a performance of the opera "Il Trovatore," which is no surprise since director Luchino Visconti was one of Italy's most renowned directors of opera. The opera is interrupted by a demonstration by Italian Nationalists against the occupying Austrian troops who were attending the opera. And the film itself is a kind of opera as we watch Countess Livia Septieri (Alida Valli) embark on a self-destructive love affair.  She is a Garibaldi supporter who intercedes on her beloved cousin's behalf when he impulsively challenges an Austrian officer to a duel. She meets Franz Mahler, a young Austrian officer (Farley Granger), and is immediately attracted to him.  Though he is "the enemy," Livia throws caution to the wind and embarks on a love affair with Franz.  He is also a cad who uses Livia to get money to bribe a doctor to say he is unfit for battle.  When he disappears and then writes her a letter thanking her for the money, she travels to see him only to discover him drunk and with a prostitute.  He humiliates Livia by rubbing her nose in her own humiliation by making her sit at a table and dine with the prostitute. It's all very Anna Karenina except in this case "Don't mess with a woman scorned."

Valli is wonderfully dramatic as the lovelorn Livia and Granger is appropriately charming and handsome.  Visconti had originally wanted Ingrid Bergman for the part of Livia but Bergman was married to director Roberto Rossellini at the time and he didn't want her working for other directors.  And Brando?  Hard for me to imagine him mumbling around in the role of the dashing Mahler. And believe it or not, Granger was a more popular actor at the time.  Does anyone remember him now?

Why it's a Must See: "With screenplay credit for both Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles -- among six writers in total - [this film] is a distinctly high-class melodrama."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...just my kind of film!  I love the old-fashioned costume melodramas that end tragically.  I'm weird that way.
(In Italian and German with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love by Michelle LeClair (2018)

Yet another book on the evils of Scientology.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not making fun of this book, but this is certainly not the first book by someone wanting to break free from Scientology, most famously Leah Remini's book "Troublemaker" and "Ruthless," written by David Miscavige's own father, Miscavige being the head of the church. You would think with all of these books written about the evils of Scientology and what they do to you if you go against them, something significant would happen such as arrests or the Church going bankrupt.  Leah Remini has made calling Scientology out a lifelong mission and even had a regular TV show interviewing about the aftermath of a life in Scientology.  But even with that, nothing seems to happen.  Scientology just keeps chugging along. Like, why aren't we hearing from Kirstie Alley or John Travolta?

I have always been fascinated by cults and what draws people in.  I recently reviewed Catherine Oxenberg's book, "Captive," about her daughter's involvement with Nxivum and her efforts to save her.  What strikes me about that book and this one is that in both cases it was the mothers who introduced their daughters to the cults - Catherine was first interested in Nxivum and got her daughter involved.  However, when she became disenchanted with the group she left but her daughter didn't. In this book, LeClair's mother was a lifelong seeker and brought her daughter in.  Both books show how vulnerable young people are to this sort of thing especially when their own parents seem to give them the seal of approval.

If you have done any reading about Scientology at all you will already know what she reveals about the Church - the auditing with the E-Meter, the Sea Org, how the Church keeps people in line, nothing really new with that, but LeClair puts a new spin on the group as she sheds life on their intolerance toward homosexuality, which she experienced first hand.

LeClair was the former President of Scientology's international humanitarian organization and gave the group millions of her own dollars.  All of her life she had struggled with her feelings about other women and tried to live a conventional heterosexual life but an abusive marriage led her to find love elsewhere and to eventually find the love of her life - a woman.  Over the years she had tried to reconcile her sexual orientation with the anti-gay ideology of Scientology, but when she met her wife she eventually left the church not realizing what a price she would pay.  The police raided her home, her husband sued her for custody of their children and she lost her business, all, according to her, as part of the Church's plan to destroy her as they try to do with any who go against them.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a harrowing story. If you are interested in the inner workings of Scientology or in cults and how people get pulled in, this is a compelling story.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 


"A Star is Born"


 The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

I Die Project." 

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Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.