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Friday, 11 September 2015

TIFF 2015: Michael Moore

Dear Readers:

This article is notable enough that we are just going to reproduce it here in it's entirety! (The rotund one finally got off his ass after a five or six year break, and this is the result!)

Michael Moore Unveils New Doc ‘Where to Invade Next’ to Major Salute

Kevin Polowy, Senior Editor, Yahoo Movies, September‎ ‎11‎, ‎2015

Michael Moore returned to the Toronto International Film Festival to unveil his new documentary Where to Invade Next late Thursday night, and he found a warm reception from the mostly Canadian crowd of 1,700 moviegoers. Shouts of “Michael Moore for Prime Minister!” preceded the premiere, and a long standing ovation greeted the director when he returned to the stage for a post-screening Q&A.

The film — shrouded in secrecy since its announcement as a TIFF title six weeks ago — was thought to be anti-war doc taking aim at U.S. military engagements given not only its title but the only image released from it, which shows a room full of armed forces leaders (above). Moore, who hasn’t directed a film since 2009’s Capitalism: A Love Story, played up that ruse to the end, greeting fest-goers with placards in the Princess of Wales theater lobby that read, “This Screening Has Been Authorized By the United States Department of Defense.”Where to Invade Next, as it turns out, is much broader in scope, with Moore using the gimmick of himself personally “invading” other countries to “steal” ideals that would make the U.S. better as the framing device of the globe-spanning film. It plays like a variation of the popular Travel Channel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, but with social policies instead of fine cuisine.

The episodic approach takes Moore to Italy, where locals espouse the work benefits that provide them 35 annual days of vacation and generous maternity/paternity leaves, then express shock that Americans by law aren’t required any. The medley continues to France (better school lunches), Finland (better education), Slovenia (free college), Germany (worker’s rights), Portugal (drug decriminalization), Norway (prison reform), Tunisia (women’s rights), and Iceland (women in power and accountability for law-breaking bankers).

That's a lot of issues to pack into one project, especially for a filmmaker who's enjoyed his biggest successes deep-diving into targeted hot-button debates like gun control (Bowling for Columbine), the war on terror (Fahrenheit 9/11), and health care (Sicko). As a result, some of the ideas Moore approaches turn out half-baked. But there's also plenty of funny, poignant, and uplifting moments, and like Moore movies of the past, Where to Invade Next will appease the choir, so to speak, as it did the Toronto crowd. 

Related: 2015 Toronto Preview: The 11 Premieres We’re Most Excited About

The film has a noticeably more upbeat tone than Moore’s previous efforts: “It was called 'Mike’s Happy Movie,’ the 'No Problem, All Solutions Movie,” Moore noted during the premiere’s amusing post-screening Q&A. “And we made a conscious decision… that we would not shoot a single frame for this movie in the United States of America. And we would say more about who we are in a hopefully more profound and devastating way by going elsewhere, so we could maybe examine what happened to our American souls.”

Moore then declared he would get ahead of the critics who will blast his choice to present such a favorable view of Italy, given recent political corruption and economic downturns in the country.

“The mainstream media does a really good job telling you night after night and day after day how the rest of the world is just so bad, and horrible, and sucks! 'And they pay so much taxes! And it’s just awful!,’” Moore exclaimed to cheers. “And what I ask for is every few years, just two hours of your time to present the other version, the truth of what goes on. So if you want to know why I didn’t point out Italy’s high unemployment rate, my answer to you is that I went there to pick the flowers and not the weeds.”