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Michael Moore: Pioneer or Pamphleteer?

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New Action Movies: Filmmaking with a CauseThe überhip W Hotel in L.A.’s Westwood was the site of “New Action Movies: Filmmaking with a Cause” on Wednesday night. Moderated by Ted Sarandos (far left), chief content officer for Netflix—by the way, I want your job, Ted—the discussion panel featured, from his right, Kirby Dick, director of This Film is Not Yet Rated; Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle, producer of An Indifferent World; and Davis Guggenheim, director of An Inconvenient Truth.

In front of a crowd that included a preponderance of students from nearby UCLA, the nighttime session, held around the hotel’s outdoor pool, started to get interesting when talk turned to Michael Moore, the larger-than-life director who has changed the way audiences think about documentaries. “I stood up and cheered during Fahrenheit 9/11,” said Guggenheim. “But then I went home and felt dirty.” There was so much real scandal to dig up concerning the Bush administration’s response to September 11, Guggenheim insisted. Instead, he opined, Moore took cheap shots, such as closeups of Bush cabinet members sitting down for makeup before going on camera.

He explained his view that such potshots appeal to the already converted, but are a turnoff to skeptics. In the end, such a film becomes less a search for objective truths and more the pushing of an individual agenda. The director, in effect, becomes a “pamphleteer,” said Guggenheim.

We imagine that the newly slimmer Michael Moore, whose film Sicko hit theaters this past weekend, might find these comments, shall we say, a tad inconvenient?

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