January 20, 2017

Tag Archives: Michael Moore

Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with “Michael Moore in TrumpLand”

There’s something really cool about a filmmaker dropping their new work as a surprise, out of the blue like something a musician might do with a new album. Right in the middle of last week, I got to see the new Michael Moore movie, which had literally just been completed the morning before. A one man show as much as a documentary, Michael Moore in TrumpLand is a real interesting bit of cinema. You might think it would be a Fahrenheit 9/11 style takedown of Donald Trump, but it’s not really that. If anything, it’s closer to a case being made for Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States. Coming from Moore, who has never been a supporter, it takes an unusual path too. This is something well worth seeing, especially if you like Moore. Even if you don’t, you should give this a chance.
Again, the film is not quite a documentary in the purest sense of the word, but something closer to a one man show. Taking the stage of a theater in a small Ohio Town, Michael Moore more or less does a TED Talk style presentation, meant to move undecided or leaning Trump/third party voters to support Clinton in the upcoming election. He does this by looking at why voters might pick Trump, what he would be like as President, and finally who Clinton actually is and what she brings to the table. It’s all done with Moore’s usual mix of comedy and righteousness. A lot of how you might respond to this will depend on how you feel about Moore. As the writer, director, and star, it’s really his show, through and through.
Here, Moore is attempting to make the case across the aisle. This is a bit different than his normal modus operandi with his docs. I appreciate both methods, but this is meant to be slightly bipartisan. It’ll find a small audience, though awards will be harder to come by. Frankly, I doubt this will wind up an Academy Award nominee in Best Documentary Feature, though it is currently getting an Oscar qualifying run last/this week. Regardless of that, though, Moore has bigger fish to fry. Would he love to be nominated again, this time for Michael Moore in TrumpLand? Sure. Would he rather make sure we have a President Clinton as opposed to a President Trump? Without question. That goes without […]

“Where to Invade Next” represents one of Michael Moore’s best documentaries yet

I know I’m not alone in saying that the coming of a new Michael Moore documentary is a bit of a cinematic event. Even though Where to Invade Next had an Oscar qualifying run last year, one that sadly didn’t result in an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, this week marks the true release for the doc. Moore has consistently made entertaining and important works before, but for my money, this is one of his very best. The fact that voters snubbed this one shouldn’t dissuade anyone from making it their business to seek this one out. It’s just brilliant.
The doc is a look at how Moore would improve the United States, bucking what you think the title makes this one about. Essentially, he jets from one country to the next, seeing things he wants to take for America during his “invasions”. He’s looking to pick the flowers, not the weeds, as he says, from six weeks of paid vacation to better school lunches to free college education. Lo and behold, just about every idea originated here in the USA initially. It’s as funny a film as Moore has ever made, and it’s also timely, but it represents something different for him in that it really doesn’t seek to scare you at all, merely inspire you.
This is what I said about Where to Invade Next back last year: “The latest from Michael Moore is easily his most optimistic doc to date, which could bode well for his chances of appealing once again to the Academy. He’s a prior winner, so that could hurt him, but that rarely seems to stop documentarians from being honored more than once. This one just needs to lock down a solid 2015 release date and I think it’ll be one that has to be considered one of the five likeliest nominees at this point.” I wasn’t right about it becoming a nominee, but I stand by it being a high quality and optimistic doc.
Where to Invade Next succeeds because it’s Moore working in a new note. He’s really pitching a sunny worldview, one where anything is possible. More so than ever before, Moore comes off as just a simple filmmaker who loves his country and wants it to reach its potential. He’s the anti Donald Trump, wanting to make America great again through positivity, not negativity. It’s also probably Moore’s least political movie […]

Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next”: Looking at potential Best Documentary Feature contenders

Ahoy there folks! For my final installment of the annual category/contender rundown, I’m finishing up by again moving on from the big eight categories and taking a look now at one of the in betweens, or as I call them “mini-majors”. This time, that happens to be the rarely boring Best Documentary Feature race. Obviously, this is another rather hard one to pin down early on, but as always, I’m feeling up for the challenge. Take a gander below and obviously keep in mind that this one also will be more fluid than normal going forward…
Here now are the five documentary films that I have currently cracking the unofficial lineup later on this year:
1. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – This documentary on Scientology seems to be the consensus frontrunner right now, but of late I’ve actually been excluding it from my predictions. Call it a hunch, but the church might work enough mojo to sabotage its chances. Provided it gets in, Alex Gibney’s look at the controversial religion could very well go all the way. It’ll be one of the more interesting subplots of this category to follow during the season.
2. Where to Invade Next – The latest from Michael Moore is easily his most optimistic doc to date, which could bode well for his chances of appealing once again to the Academy. He’s a prior winner, so that could hurt him, but that rarely seems to stop documentarians from being honored more than once. This one just needs to lock down a solid 2015 release date and I think it’ll be one that has to be considered one of the five likeliest nominees at this point.
3. Amy – Slowly but surely, this has become one of the most successful documentaries of all time. A look at tragic pop star Amy Winehouse by filmmaker Asif Kapadia and how her life was cut short by drugs, it’s easily the most mainstream choice out there. I’ve warmed up to its chances of a nomination, though I still think it’s a long shot to win. That being said, it’ll be well honored on the precursor circuit, so anything is possible…
4. The Look of Silence – A pseudo sequel/follow up to The Act of Killing, which was nominated but didn’t win, I suspect the same fate will be awaiting this doc. It’s very good, but also feels like a companion […]

Michael Moore attacks “American Sniper”

Documentarian Michael Moore last week attacked Clint Eastwood’s movie, “American Sniper” by making statements like: “My dad always said, Snipers are cowards. They don’t believe in a fair fight. Like someone coming up from behind you and coldcocking you. Just isn’t right. It’s cowardly to shoot a person in the back. Only a coward will shoot someone who can’t shoot back.”
This Monday he backpaddles by posting on his FACEBOOK.COM/MMFLINT:
“… here’s what I think about “American Sniper”: Awesome performance from Bradley Cooper. One of the best of the year. Great editing. Costumes, hair, makeup superb! Oh… and too bad Clint gets Vietnam and Iraq confused in his storytelling. And that he has his characters calling Iraqis “savages” throughout the film. But there is also anti-war sentiment expressed in the movie. And there’s a touching ending as the main character is remembered after being gunned down by a fellow American vet with PTSD who was given a gun at a gun range back home in Texas — and then used it to kill the man who called himself the ‘America Sniper’.”

Go figure…
To read more go to MICHAELMOORE.COM
Photo by PRPHOTOS.COM and Warner Bros

Bowling for Columbine: The Top 25 (Best Documentary Feature)

Continuing the weekly series I’m doing here on the site, we’re talking the top 25 Oscar winners in just about all of the Academy Award categories out there for us to discuss. Aside from the short form categories and likely something much harder to rank like Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing as I’ve mentioned in the weeks prior, I’ll be hitting them all over the coming weeks, including of course the big eight categories, a few of which have already received this treatment. I’m also potentially going to do one that doesn’t really exist (a fictitious/wishful thinking Best Ensemble category), but that’s just an idea I currently am toying with. We’ll see about that one, but for now, we’ll stick to reality.
Today I’ll be going ahead and knocking off another one of the in between categories (though technically a technical category, if you’ll excuse the phrasing), with this one being the Best Documentary Feature field. Depending on the category in question, I may wind up discussing the individual winners I’m citing specifically or just giving a broad overview of the winners. Like I said over the past few weeks though, in all honesty, you mostly just want to see the list anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the next couple of paragraphs…
This time around, I’m just going with the overview route again, though many of these documentaries are well worth having more said about them. Personally, I’ve favored a lot of the more recent winners in this category, but that’s just me. Some of you might be fans of the early winners. I certainly don’t exclude them, but I feel that in the last decade and change, some of the very best winners have been released, plain and simple.
I’ll just discuss my top ten a bit now before getting to the list itself. My number one pick might be a bit controversial for some, but I’m a big Michael Moore fan and feel that he really hit a home run with Bowling for Columbine. Issues documentaries often speak to me, hence the high placement of modern winners like The Cove and An Inconvenient Truth, as well as an older one like The Times of Harvey Milk. Rounding out the rest of the top ten we have The Fog of War, Harlan County […]

Obama’s America $6.2 million doesn’t mean anything

HollywoodNews.com: Oh my, another film explicitly targeting an undeserved niche did exceptional business almost exclusively with that niche. In a sane industry that would be called smart business, but the studios tend to treat it as a *shock* and write it off as a fluke.
It was no shock to anyone paying attention during the week, especially when the film was announced to be expanding on over 1,000 screens this weekend. With the weak slate of new releases and little holdover interest, the market was primed for a solid debut for something preaching to a very devoted choir.
First as foremost, 2016: Obama’s America earned about 1/4 as much this weekend as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 did over its opening weekend on about as many screens eight years ago.
As not-president John Kerry can attest, even the most obscenely successful political documentary of all time ($23 million opening weekend, $119 million domestic total) didn’t help John Kerry defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 election (even if we can dispute the results in Ohio, Bush won the popular vote by three million).
So no, the fact that a directly-targeted group of anti-Obama moviegoers gave 2016: Obama’s America $6.2 million doesn’t mean anything more than the piss-poor box office of last year’s The Undefeated (essay) in terms of predicting an upcoming presidential election.
To read more go to www.Mendelson’s Memo
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The Hunger Games opened this weekend with a scorching $155 million

By Scott Mendelson
Besting any number of opening weekend records, The Hunger Games (review HERE) opened this weekend with a scorching $155 million. That’s the third-biggest opening weekend of all-time, behind The Dark Knight ($158 million) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($169 million). Obviously by virtue of being number 03 on the list, it’s also the biggest opening weekend for a non-summer movie, a non-sequel. It’s of course the biggest debut in history for a film not released by Warner Bros. during the third weekend in July, for those keeping release-date score. It’s also Lionsgate’s highest-grossing film ever after just three days, besting the $123 million-debut of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. While it’s Lionsgate’s most expensive movie, it’s still an example of smart budgeting as it came it at $90 million before tax credits which brought the total exposure to just $78 million. Even if you factor in the hardcore marketing campaign over the last month, Lionsgate is surely in the black or will be by Friday, making everything after this pure profit. There isn’t too much to say because this record debut has been prognosticated to the point of tedium over the last two months, as one tracking report after another continually upped the predicted opening weekend number, to the point where the film would have been called a ‘flop’ if it hadn’t opened with at least $100 million (not by me, mind you). But yeah, Lionsgate pulled some of the best marketing in modern history (teaser/trailer01/trailer02), turning a relatively popular young adult book series into a mainstream media ‘event’, which in turn made the film adaptation into a must-sample event even for audiences who only had token knowledge of the series.
Here’s the breakdown. The film pulled in $19.75 million at midnight on Friday night, and then pulled in $68.3 million on its opening day (the fifth-biggest Friday ever). The film held surprisingly strong on Saturday earning another $51 million, or down 25% from the Friday total but actually up 5% from the $48.5 million that the film earned during normal business hours on Friday. By the way, that non-midnight Friday total was the third-biggest on record, behind The Dark Knight ($48.7 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($49.8 million) and ahead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($43 million at midnight, $47.5 million […]

Sarah Palin’s “The Undefeated” box office failure doesn’t mean a thing

HollywoodNews.com: However immature it may be, it can be fun to crow when your enemy fails. Thus we’ve had two weeks of various liberal bloggers jumping for joy at the financial under-performance of the Sarah Palin halo-agraphy The Undefeated. The film opened with $65,132 on ten screens for a mediocre $6,532 per-screen average. It expanded to 14 locations this past weekend but dropped 62%, earning just $24,662 for a $1,762 per-screen average. The film barely has $100,000 after ten days and has announced premature (?) plans to debut on Video on Demand and DVD release. This is frankly an out-and-out tank, a genuine bomb even when compared to other political documentaries that aren’t directed by Michael Moore (comparing all political documentaries to Moore’s work would be like expecting Punisher: War Zone to out-gross Spider-Man 3). Ben Stein’s Intelligent Design documentary, Expelled, ended up grossing $7.7 million in 2008. Even something as relatively low-key as The US vs. John Lennon opened with $11,523 per-screen on six screens and eventually grossed $1.1 million back in 2006. What does this mean for the political fortunes of Sarah Palin and/or those who endorse her ideologies? Absolutely nothing.
If you’re among the liberals licking their lips with glee that few if anyone came out to see Palin’s documentary, ask yourself: Would you rush out to see a similar documentary about someone more of your political persuasion? Raise your hands if you went to a theater and saw Going Upriver: The John Kerry Story back in October, 2004? I did, but I’m a movie nut who, especially when I was unmarried and without kids, try to see anything that may or may not inspire some kind of discussion (it’s why I most certainly checked out The Passion of the Christ over opening weekend in February 2004). But judging by the box office numbers, you probably didn’t. The film opened with $279,219 on 163 theaters and eventually grossed a whopping $614,138 in theaters. Would anyone of you take time away from work and family to race out to see a completely uncritical and overtly partisan documentary about Barack Obama? How about Russ Feingold or Alan Grayson? Anyone…? Sure, we might check out such a thing on television or on Netflix Instant, but there is a big difference between turning on our […]

Michael Moore “should be ashamed” for “Fahrenheit 9/11” lawsuit

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: It was a controversial documentary when it was released back in 2004. Nearly seven years later, “Fahrenheit 9/11” has filmmaker Michael Moore back in the news for negative reasons.
The Oscar winner is suing Harvey and Bob Weinstein, claiming that the brothers used “Hollywood accounting tricks” to cheat Moore out of nearly $3 million in profits, THR reports. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, sues for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and makes constructive fraud claims stating that the Weinstein’s agreed to split profits 50-50, but then diverted funds so that Moore would receive less.
The Weinstein’s lawyer, Bert Fields, dismissed the claims, telling THR, “The Weinsteins have paid everything they should have paid. Mr. Moore has received a huge amount of money from this film and we believe he is overreaching. He should be ashamed of himself.”
In response, Moore’s lawyer, Larry Stein, issued the following statement:
“An independent auditor came in and discovered that the Weinsteins had re-routed at least $2.7 million dollars that belonged to Michael Moore from “Fahrenheit 9/11.” This is the first time Michael Moore has ever sued anyone in his 20-yr career as a filmmaker. That should be some indication about how serious this is. It’s very sad it had to come to this. Michael believes the Weinsteins have been a force for good when it comes to championing independent film — but that does not give them the right to violate a contract and take money that isn’t theirs. The $2.7 million is just the floor of what we believe is owed. When this goes to discovery I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of what was taken goes much, much higher.”
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Harvey Weinstein up in arms as ‘The Tillman Story’ gets an R-rating

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Distributor Harvey Weinstein, director Amir Bav Lev, and producer John Battsek is up in arms today because their upcoming documentary, “The Tillman Story,” has been slapped with an R-rating for ‘excessive language’. Apparently, the critically-acclaimed look into the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and subsequent cover-up of the friendly-fire incident, contains three uses of the ‘F’-word. I get the outrage, but it’s a pretty simple idea. This isn’t the MPAA giving an R for intensity or overwhelming violence or a certain amount of sexuality. This is too many uses of the F-word, period, end of story. Everyone and their brother knows that at best you can have two of them and get a PG-13. The makers broke one of the MPAA’s few iron-clad rules for a PG-13 and are now complaining about it. If Weinstein and company want the PG-13, then just bleep one or two of them out.
I’m pretty darn sure that the film will lose little if any of its power by having two less uses of the word ‘fuck’. Either stick to your guns and go out with an R, stop whining, edit the word and get your PG-13, or do what Morgan Spurlock did with “Super Size Me” (originally PG-13 for profanity and drug references) and make an ‘educational version’ to be shown in class rooms. If “The Tillman Story” is supposed to be an educational tool, then it should be of certain importance that it be used for that purpose. I said the same thing last year about Michael Moore leaving in three ‘fuck’s in the R-rated “Capitalism: A Love Story.” If Moore wanted that film to be used as an educational tool, there is no excuse not to cut those two of those out (one of which was Moore himself grandstanding in voice over) and win a more kid-friendly PG rating (the movie has no otherwise objectionable content).
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos.
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