Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Some people just don't like to celebrate human tragedy while on vacation." ROGER AND ME DOCUMENTARY MARATHON

Roger And Me
-1989-Michael Moore


When given the opportunity to speak his mind, Michael Moore will be there to say what he believes needs to be said. I greatly respect the man for this, and although I have some problems with his techniques and overall opinions about some subjects, I find the man absolutely fascinating. With that being said I found Michael Moore’s first critical and cultural success, Roger and Me, to be an attempt at getting things right, while never reaching any sort of transcendent moment that I feel Moore could be capable of capturing with such material.

In Bowling for Columbine, while Moore uses tragedy as a device of sympathy to get his ultimate point across, he uses it in such a way that it works to the movie’s advantage. He uses similar, if not exact, tactics in Roger and Me that seemingly allow the film to fall flat on its face.

Moore happens to find tragedy fascinating. Be it in the lives of his neighbors or fellow Americans, he jumps at the chance to make a movie about a tragic event through his eyes. That is simply all we are ever shown in a Michael Moore documentary. A glimpse at the man’s thoughts about said tragedy. In Roger and Me, it seems Moore’s thoughts aren’t with those who lost their jobs but are simply focused on making people out to look like jerks. From Roger Smith to Pat Boone, he goes from one to another “just wanting answers” but obviously going about it all the wrong way to cause a scene.

While this type of thing is all he really does in Bowling For Columbine as well, it seems he disguises it a bit better and drops in hints of hope and truth. Here, Michael Moore seems to think that logic, truth and justice are best served by trying the same stunt twice, constantly on “the search” for the man who is responsible for all that is wrong in the world, Roger Smith.

I think Moore’s films live or die on the villain he creates. While Roger Smith seems to be a good choice, a capitalistic pig who could care less about the little man working for him and more about saving himself a few pennies. He never allows Smith to have a character that embodies evil. Compare this to Moore’s best film to date, Bowling For Columbine, where so many people think our bad guy is Charlton Heston, no, he is simply a minion to the ultimate evil: The Fear Mongering Media. This approach works because we see all of these things working together to harm us, and it’s something that is tangible in our own lives and we relate to. Roger Smith is a creation in Moore’s head. I find his ways despicable but not because of anything I saw him do in the film.

Ultimately, Moore’s chops didn’t seem to be there as a director. His beloved juxtapositions seemed less well constructed than in later films, and those are the center pieces that create in the viewer a sense of anger at what has transgressed before us.

1 comment:

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