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Bowling for Columbine (2002)
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Review Date: October 08, 2002
Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Producers: Michael Moore, Kathleen Glynn
Actors:
Michael Moore
Charlton Heston
Matt Stone
Plot:
A "documentary" which investigates the obscene amount of gun-related murders which plague the Unites States of America, as well as its various related symptoms and causes. Many real-life tragedies are explored, political ramifications investigated and human emotions affected.
Critique:
If there's only one movie that you could see this year...see this one! It's one of those films that will stay with you long after you watch it: it entertains, it makes you think, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you sit up and take notice and what's this...you say that it actually teaches you stuff too? Wow. Michael Moore, the genius behind the award-winning ROGER & ME documentary, has put together yet another pointed film about the problems with guns in America which, in my opinion, is likely to be the most important movie that anyone will see this year (read Moore's own two cents about whether or not this is really a "documentary" in our interview here). In fact, I would go as far as to recommend that as many schools as possible screen this movie as part of their curriculum, because as much as a lot of it might be somewhat "over the head" of some kids, the main crux of the film will definitely influence, inform and empower many future generations to do something about their present gun "control" system. The film doesn't present you with a cut & dry solution for the environment which, amongst many other tragedies, lead two young boys to murder 13 people from their high school three years ago (although I do like Chris Rock's suggestion about selling bullets at $5000 a piece, so that folks would think thrice before making such a purchase), but it does present many reasons WHY this seems to be happening (and believe it or not, Marilyn Manson is not one of them!) and provides as much evidence, statistics and real-life conversations with people to make for a wholly engrossing film.

One of the most staggering stats that we are given at about the halfway point is the number of U.S. gun-related murders versus some other countries from around the world and the results are beyond shocking!! My own home turf of Canada gets particular props for its lack of violence, its awesome health care system and the fact that many Canadians apparently don't lock their front doors (although I've never been privy to this bit of insight myself-we always lock our doors around these parts). Another great thing about this movie is how Moore discusses certain matters in a macro-way, giving us the general big picture of the issues, but then goes micro on our ass, sits down at a table with the brother of one of the terrorists involved in the Oklahoma building bombing, and gives you the microscopic details right in your face (btw, if there's one guy who looks like he's gonna be the next to snap...it's this dude! Keep an eye on him) But what makes this film even more successful is that it doesn't just provide you with all of these boring facts and figures, it actually entertains as well and more than the majority of "regular" movies that I've seen so far this year. For example, there's a hilarious "history of the United States" done in SOUTH PARK cartoon style that is one of the funniest things around. I can't remember hearing this many film critics cracking up during a screening, but what makes it all that much more powerful is that you will be laughing heartily the one minute and given yet another shocking angle the next. Incredible stuff.

The flick also features some graphic visuals that will startle some, including some of the videotape from the actual Columbine shootings, as well as several gripping one-on-one moments that Moore conducts with targets like the K-Mart "attack" (which actually seems to have made a difference), Dick Clark (who comes off like a total a-hole) and Charlton Heston, who has since told the world that he suffers from Alzheimer's, but who comes off like one of the most insensitive men you'd ever want to meet (as well as a racist?). I will say that I was completely enraptured by this film from frame numero uno and actually wanted to hear more when it was all over! Sure, Moore gets a little heavy-handed at times and accentuates certain situations for impact (he's not making a "two-sided" documentary here...he's making a point!), but when a 6-year old goes into school with a gun and kills a fellow 6-year old, isn't it time that someone push some buttons and try to figure out WHY this is all happening, instead of just reporting the FACTS, as most media seem to have done with these tragedies? Oliver Stone must be shaking in his boots after this film because Michael Moore doesn't just present us with an enjoyable two hours, but he also puts forth various insinuations, theories and conjectures (many of which he does sarcastically and with plenty of humor, I might add), which all seem to contain enough validity to, at the very least, lead to further discussion on many of these very important topics. Moore touches on everything from the politicians behind it all, the history of the country, the media's overemphasis on tragedy, TV, movies, musicians (yes, even the interview with rocker Marilyn Manson makes you think twice about what's what), the NRA, major corporate entities (a Moore documentary wouldn't be a Moore documentary without him harassing at least one CEO at some point), other countries' policies, war, money and finance, racism, hypocrisy and so much more, that I honestly can't remember every single thing that he touched upon (oh yeah, let's not forget the local bank that was handing out free guns to anyone opening up a new account!).

In fact, as soon as this picture was done, I was hoping to watch it again...it's just that insightful! And talk about perfect timing!! With President Bush presently pushing for the USA to attack another country (Iraq), many of the themes and conclusions drawn in this picture, are prophetically being paralleled today. I really wish that every American could see this movie. I'm not suggesting that all of the answers lie within, but I do know that it contains enough potent theories to fuel several, if not, oodles of debates, conversations and intelligent discussion about the issues. And if you think that this is just a lengthy news report that's simply going to rehash all of the stuff that you've already seen on TV...get ready to be flabbergasted as Moore does more (pun intended) with one five-minute report on the mother of the 6-year old who shot the other 6-year old, than all of the reporters who "covered" the event did...combined!! Moore actually takes the time to look beyond the sensational headlines and uncover the symptoms, the causes and the actual experiences that led to the tragedy. If only all journalists could be as vigilant with their news reports, instead of "shooting for the ratings" and giving us little more than the basic ID's of a story, maybe the media could actually begin to HELP the situation as it is today, instead of indirectly contributing to it. I'm not sure if a director of a documentary can be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, but if so...Michael Moore better be on that list come February or I'm gonna kick some geezer ass. I don't usually get chills or goosebumps in movie screenings, but a couple of very powerful images in this film managed to frazzle me something fierce and if that's not powerful filmmaking...I don't know what is. Once again, I will say this...if there is only one movie that you can see this year: see this movie!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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