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Bowling for Columbine | Review

The Bigger Picture

Moore’s newest is a smoking gun in documentary film

His weapon of choice is not an AK-47 an M-16 or 9mm its what is so often referred to by many flag-waving Americans as “a constitutional right as an American to freedom of speech”. The Michael Moore trademark was firmly established with his kick to mid-section of corporate America film Roger & Me,- which ultimately give him the confidence to make a career out of aiming his microphone and camera in the face of America. Moore knocks on doors (and even opens up a couple of them in Canada friendly-Toronto) in a mission to make some kind of difference. Unfortunately, for America and thankfully for Moore’s point-of-view there seems to be a rampant population of adults whom appear to have a lower than an eighth grader type of education.

Bowling for Columbine poses one question- What is about the United States that made two high-school kids go out and kill half a dozen kids of their peers? The answer most obviously isn’t the violent sport of bowling that pushed them to thier rampage of popping caps into innocent people. The answers could easily come from turning on the television, to looking under a pillow or shopping down an aisle at K-mart. Moore visits his home town and all the media headline centers of controversy with a tripod, camera, microphone in hand and a set of questions resembling a “if you ask it they will answer it” format. What he captures on film is shockingly funny and tragic account of contemporary America and how it is influenced by the media, the government, the NRA and Moses himself (a very senile Charlton Heston). A damn big mess if you ask me. What he uncovers-not surprisingly, is that the friendly people of USA are not only a culture of gun crazy fanatics but they are also a bunch of paranoid citizens living in fear-heck where else in the world can you open a bank account a get a “free” gun?!

Skewed to perfection, Moore expresses his own view points, but when it comes down to it-no matter how his subjects or subject matters are manipulated or presented he is so blatantly upfront and honest about making them look like and bunch of irresponsible culprits of society’s problems. The structure of this documentary almost gives the impression that he sometimes trivializing the issues-using a tone that is more emphasized on a satirical voice approach. Thankfully, there is the more seriousness side of the issue with one scene that sees Moore accompany two victims from Columbine shootings who want a refund for the bullets lodged in their bodies. The South Park rendition of American history and the multiple showing of dumb Americans in, well, their dumb states is mere amusement but every now and then Moore gets the picture voice on tape, and out of all the people that take the time to sit with Moore and talk about the problem is the shock jock himself-Marilyn Manson who probably gives the most insightful thought of the film when he is asked “What would he have told the people of Columbine” with the response “I would listen to them”. Moore’s Bowling for Columbine is definitely worth the listen.

Rating 3.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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