Josh Steinberg

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I think that sort of thing is what Moore is best at, showing people in their day to day lives and allowing the inherent contradictions to reveal themselves. He can extract the point from people if he wants, but he’s at his best when he just allows his subjects to paint that picture themselves.
 
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TravisR

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I saw this movie in theaters when it opened in 2002, and then again when the original MGM DVD came out in 2003 - but I hadn't revisited it since. What I had forgotten was how funny many parts of the movie are. Moore has a comedian's sense of rhythm and timing and knows when to throw in a joke or a bit of sarcasm or an ironic clip to lighten the mood. I remembered the movie being pretty grim (except for the animated sequence in the middle) but I was surprised at how many moments I had forgotten that just made me laugh out loud, and where it seemed clear that that was the intent.
Yeah, Moore is funny as usual which keeps the movie from being unwatchably sad but the things that depress me are really depressing.
 

t1g3r5fan

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I still remember seeing this movie in my senior year of high school in my College Writing course (the movie had already been out for several years at that point). I'll have to pick up a copy either during this or the next Criterion sale.
 

Colin Jacobson

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The most memorable image to me from the film as I remember (and one that resonates as profoundly today as it did then), is when he interviews a father of a Columbine student at his workplace... and the man is talking about his inability to fathom where these 'kids' are getting these destructive or ideas of killing and causing death from.... and he's standing in front of an ICBM missile at his workplace, which is a weapon designed to fly thousands of miles and kill hundreds of thousands of people. And he works at this plant that builds them. And he can't understand where this sense of kids thinking about killing comes from.
I get that, but I think that's a metaphor stretched to the brink. Yes, at heart we all understand missiles intend to kill, but in reality, they're a pretty abstract concept.

Guns are tangible. We see gun violence in the news, in movies, on TV, etc. and have a concrete grasp of the damage they do.

But an ICBM? That's more abstract. While we get the massive harm they can cause, there's not the day-to-day "real world" connection there.

Moore wants us to connect the missile factory in Colorado with the proliferation of violence, but I think that's an incredible stretch. I think there's about a 0.01% chance the missile factory did anything to "cause" the Columbine shooting...
 

Colin Jacobson

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Yeah, Moore is funny as usual which keeps the movie from being unwatchably sad but the things that depress me are really depressing.
Moore is clearly bright and clever and can be insightful, but dear God, his self-absorbed smugness gets old.

Sure, he can be self-deprecating at times, but he usually seems intent on showing that he's the smartest person in the room, and that gets old.

Moore leaves far too little room for interpretation/other viewpoints. Granted, that's part of what makes his movies stand out, as they're forceful and not wishy-washy about POV, but it also means his movies tend to be overbearing and borderline propaganda...
 

WillG

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Admittedly, I'm not the type who generally agrees with the viewpoints and tactics of Moore and those like him, but I did watch this years ago and remember him making some very tenouous connections to gun violence. The incident with the little girl who shot herself, I remember Moore trying to blame Dick Clark because his restaurant chain made the mother work late. There was also the part where IIRC he tries to make connections to Lockheed having a major shipping route that ran right through Littleton. Then I remember he visits some idyllic Canadian town and noted that the residents don't even lock their doors (yet the scene is shot in broad, sunny daylight. I don't lock my doors during the day either).

He also got on Trey Parker and Matt Stone's shitlist for editing the movie in a way that suggested that they created the animated segment.
 
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Colin Jacobson

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The incident with the little girl who shot herself, I remember Moore trying to blame Dick Clark because his restaurant chain made the mother work late.
It was a young boy who shot a female classmate, and the mother of the boy had to travel a long way to get to her job at the Clark affiliated restaurant - essentially Moore felt Clark and company took advantage of borderline "slave labor".

The "gotcha" moment with Clark was a disgrace. It's stuff like that that makes Moore look like a self-aggrandizing showboater much more than an actual documentarian...
 
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TravisR

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The "gotcha" moment with Clark was a disgrace. It's stuff like that that makes Moore look like a self-aggrandizing showboater much more than an actual documentarian...
I like to say that Michael Moore makes 'opinion movies' rather than documentaries. And I don't mean that as a critique because they're often opinions that I share but he doesn't have a lack of bias that I feel is needed for someone to be considered a documentarian.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I like to say that Michael Moore makes 'opinion movies' rather than documentaries. And I don't mean that as a critique because they're often opinions that I share but he doesn't have a lack of bias that I feel is needed for someone to be considered a documentarian.
I think every filmmaker - documentarian and otherwise - is biased. Some just hide it better than others! :)
 
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Colin Jacobson

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True. But there's a difference between a bias and an agenda.
Agree, though I admit in the case of "Bowling", it's not clear what Moore's overall agenda would be.

The easy assumption is that he'll attack gun owners/2nd Amendment, but that doesn't occur.

He shows an agenda in parts of the film - mainly "let's attack celebrities like Heston and Dick Clark" - but the overall package never quite comes together...
 

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