Fahrenheit 11/9

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Fahrenheit 11/9

Fahrenheit 11/9 is a tough movie to see, a tough one to review. The current political climate is so divided that it’s a fair guess that people who see Michael Moore as a villain will stay away. Yes, toward the end he zeroes in on the Trump problem but the rest of the film is an invitation to left and right to address our national problems. He shows us those.

It may make conservatives more comfortable to learn that Moore focuses on President Obama’s visit to Michigan where Governor Rick Snyder had poisoned the city of Flint with water drawn from a lead infected river while supplying fresh water to the General Motors auto parts factory where river water was corroding the auto parts. The governor lied about the lead level in the water that was poisoning people with permanent damage.

To prove the water’s freshness, visiting President Obama announces that he is thirsty and puts a glass to his lips but obviously doesn’t taste it. And then a second glass cements the fakery in our minds. He was supporting the criminal governor. So, don’t think this is a one-sided show. Moore also mocks Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and shows how Hilary Clinton supporters literally destroyed Bernie Sanders’ vote counts.

That said, he shows us that our country is being governed by politicians of both parties who are driven not by looking for the best solutions but simply by what will keep them in power. The examples become an invitation to all of us to recognize that because we are comfortable we are ignoring the corruption of our democracy to a point of serious danger. He believes that, starting with Clinton, the country has become a bi-partisan collusion.

This is supported by a Harvard professor who believes we have already destroyed our democracy. He points out how long it took for women and blacks to win the right to vote. The professor and Moore are convincing in painting us as a country soaking in bi-partisan comfort without recognizing the danger confronting us. If we don’t change, they say, we will perish as a country.

At that point, Moore takes us to Donald Trump’s determination that we be a Christian nation in spite of our founding by immigrants from many nations. The degree of Trump’s determination is frightening.

After the Parkland School shootings, 500 Parkland students rose in articulate anger and sadness to become leaders in the absence of leadership from adults who mourned but didn’t act and Trump who recommended arming the faculty. In a chilling ‘30s moment we watch films of a German athlete who refused to stand for his national anthem.

Moore’s answer is to turn his camera on the extraordinary energy and articulation of the Parkland students who alone have shown leadership in our country where comfort is creating the ignorance of our problems. Moore’s primary thesis: If we don’t find leadership and reform, it’s all over for America.

Film Reviewer: Joan Ellis
Film title : Fahrenheit 11/9
Word Count : 499
Running Tim : 2:08
Rating : R
Date : September 23, 2018

This review was posted on September 23, 2018, in Documentary.

Juliet, Naked

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Juliet, Naked

Juliet, Naked blooms slowly in the hands of four appealing performers who work with a thoroughly oddball plot. As they develop their characters, the movie turns into a genuinely pleasant trip.

The title is the name of a play by songwriter Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) who disappeared twenty years ago at the height of his career. Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) has covered the wall of his study with pictures and articles about his songster hero. When a CD by the lost singer arrives in the mail, Duncan is enthralled while Annie (Rose Byrne), his housemate, thinks the song is ludicrous – enough so that she sits down and writes a negative review to Tucker Crowe who is intrigued and responds.

As we meet them early on, none of the three is especially happy. Tucker, in recovery from two decades of alcoholism, is being nice to a bevy of women and the children he fathered with them. Annie is disappointed in life with Duncan who seems interested primarily in himself and in his passion for Tucker Crowe’s music. Tucker is atoning for his past by being a genuinely kind father to Jackson (Azhy Robertson), a bright, interesting little boy who loves him. As this reformed fellow tries to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, we follow the gang with increasing interest.

Because it’s clear that these adults haven’t the faintest idea of how to design new lives, we settle in to enjoy them for who they are. Rose Byrne makes Annie a kind woman living with a man she doesn’t much care about. Ethan Hawke wraps Tucker in the confusion of looking up the women and children of his dalliances. Chris O’Dowd sets Duncan in a pleasant but boring cloud of confusion.

If all this sounds dull, it isn’t. Once we understand that these three have no idea of how to redesign their lives in middle-age, we begin to enjoy their search. There’s not a villain in the bunch and we begin to understand them and root for them in their dilemmas. The one who doesn’t need our help is Azhy Robertson’s Jackson who is thoroughly happy just to be living with the father who loves him while he peppers the movie with intriguing questions and observations.

Chris O’Dowd builds a nutty professor with an odd passion without alienating the audience while Rose Byrne paints a touching portrait of someone who thinks she should be happy but isn’t. In a nice footnote, if you wonder why Rose Byrne is always carrying something in front of her or wearing flowing clothes, the reason is, of course, that she is pregnant in real life.

Ethan Hawke creates a thoroughly appealing nutcase who did all kinds of bad things while he was drinking and now is open to his new life as long as nothing takes him away from his son Jackson. The movie is an appealing slice of the change of direction that is such a hallmark of middle-age.

Film Critic: Joan Ellis
Film Title: Juliet, Naked
Word Count: 498
Running Time: 1:45
Rating: R
Date: September 16, 2018