Bowling for Columbine (2002)
SOME NOTES BY EDWIN JAHIEL TAKEN AT THE 2002 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
This movie by satirist-populist-reformer Michael Moore is repeatedly mentioned in the press and in the Festival's information as "the first ever documentary in he Cannes competition." But what about the 1956 documentary " "The Silent World" directed and photographed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle. It won the Palme d'Or.
That movie was about undersea exploration. Moore's film explores and indicts the gun and violence culture in the U.S.A. Moore's first film, the triumphant "Roger & Me," created a most original genre and set the tone for his subsequent work, notably "The Big One": scathing, original, blackly humorous denunciations, with Moore as Moore playing a false naïf interviewer in 90 minute movies. "Bowling" it follows the tried and true methods and devices of previous Moores. Even so, there's a lot more variety in his subjects than in the James Bond and the Indiana Jones series.
Of course, I am comparing apples and oranges. "Bowling" works well albeit with no major surprises and a longish running time of 120 minutes. No analysis needed here. In my case, Moore was preaching to a convert, but it did convince me to lose weight, buy elegant clothes and never wear a baseball cap.
The film's reception was very good. I suspect that beyond the intrinsic quality of the work, anything interpreted as critical of the U.S.A. gets bonus points. Not for all, but for too many persons-- even relatively sophisticated ones-- America remains a whipping boy. Has the ungrateful world forgotten the Yank contribution to World War I, and the Yank liberators of World War II?
At the Awards ceremony, "Bowling" got "The Prize of the 55th Anniversary." That's an invention, something totally fabricated in order to place Michael Moore in the company of winners. I suspect that the award was primarily a well-deserved was tribute to Moore's total "oeuvre." It pleased me that a totally unconventional, maverick and funny American was honored. But Moore's acceptance speech was an unfunny attempt to thank people in atrocious debris of high-school French taken over 30 years ago. So, dear Michael, keep your wonderful investigations coming, but please, stick to the English language!