I like and respect documentaries. One of my absolute favorites came in 1988 with Errol Morris’ “The Thin Blue Line,” the story of Randall Adams, a wrongfully convicted man who was serving a life sentence on Death Row for a crime he did not commit. Adams was released in 1989, becoming an advocate for wrongfully jailed prisoners. He died in 2010.
Too bad the usually great documentary filmmaker Michael Moore dropped the ball on this one. I usually agree with his matter-of-fact tone that equates to simple common sense. Moore’s notions sometimes run true, but in this one, his rhetoric feels empty.
“Fahrenheit 11/9” lacks focus, since it was supposed to be about the Trump administration but detours into the water crisis in Flint, Michigan where the residents were getting sick from lead-tainted water. Mass shootings, gun control and both political parties were other subjects he explored.
“Fahrenheit 11/9” also looks at how people need to go out and support our country by raising the stakes at a local level and making change by getting people to go out and vote.
In “Fahrenheit 11/9,” Moore traces the presidency of Donald J. Trump which, as of current writing, is just about halfway through in his four-year term. Moore tells how Trump brags about his success, feels he should be re-elected and compares himself to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt because he thinks he is doing such a great job and he’s the best at it, hands down.
Also interwoven into the story are comparisons of Trump to Adolf Hitler’s slow rise to power that became Germany’s new normal.
Moore also documents how Trump likes the pageantry of leaders such as Kim Jong Un and his interest in holding a similar event for himself. Trump seems to not realize that he is admiring a dictator or seem to care. Trump just likes the spectacle and showmanship of such events.
In this movie, Moore sees Trump as the ultimate evil in the world and obviously does not like Trump in any capacity. Moore pinpoints Trump’s bravura as a man who always think he’s doing a great job.
As a filmmaker and documentarian, Moore sometimes strays from his topic. Unlike the great Oscar-winning “Bowling for Columbine” (2002) or the highly successful “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2014), he does not know exactly where to steer this documentary.
From his catalog, I would probably put this one in the passable-yet-disappointing category. Unlike the 1997’s intriguing “The Big One” or the so-so “Where to Invade Next” (2015), this one just peters out and does not really end with an adequate resolve.
But what do I know; I’m just a film critic.