Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Hearts and Minds

The night began with a continuation of my movie mishaps. I drove all the way down to the Loft to see the original Manchurian Candidate -- I've never seen it, even though I decided to teach it in the upcoming semester -- only to discover that it was playing on Sunday at 9pm, not Saturday.

Determined not to give up, though, I made my way to the Park Place Mall -- absolutely packed at 9pm -- and bided my time in Borders before heading over to the theater. My plan on Friday -- when I was pleasantly diverted by Sean and Lina -- had been to rewatch Fahrenheit 9/11 in light of my exchange with Steven on Michael Moore and the review of the film he later posted on his blog. Last night, however, I was in the mood for something new and stood in line vacillating -- not that it matters, once you're inside -- between The Village and I, Robot. I went for the latter, because Kim -- knicolini -- and Susan had insisted that it was way better than the preview implied.

Well, they were right. Kim thought I'd love it, given my fondness for near-future narratives of the Blade Runner sort. I did. The identification of African-American and robot was subtle, but effective. The sex was not sex. The detective story was nicely noir. The Chicago of 2035 mixed our own past, present, and future in a plausible manner, with plenty of brick-and-mortar urbanity. Will Smith was his usual likable protagonist. The special effects were fluid and understated: you never had the sense that a scene was driven solely the urge to showcase explosions. And the specter of revolution was broached to boot.

After I, Robot -- I keep wanting to write iRobot -- was over, I slipped into the adjoining Fahrenheit 9/11 to catch the film's last forty minutes again. Surprisingly, the theater was not empty. It wasn't full, certainly, but there were a lot more people then usually attend post-10pm screenings of movies that have been out a few weeks. Almost the whole audience was in the 16-32 range. Best of all, there were quite a few men with really short hair. And they seemed riveted. I didn't ask them if they were military. Given the Park Place's proximity to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, however, there's a distinct possibility that they were. Maybe that's why the exhalations during the interviews with soldiers wounded in the war were so distinctly audible.

Michael Moore made a big deal about the importance of getting teenagers into Fahrenheit 9/11 when it was given an R rating. At the time, I thought his protest was a needless publicity stunt. But maybe he just had a sense that the film would appeal to the youth set. I'm certainly struck by its staying power. His on-camera presence continues to bother me, though less than it did in Bowling for Columbine, but my second viewing of the Lila Lipscomb sequence -- the pro-military mother who loses her son in Iraq -- reinforced my initial impression that it plays well to a mass audience. Maybe I'll go see the whole film over. I do want to write something about the tension between Moore's eye and his I. I've been interested in the role identification plays in non-fiction with a first-person component for years and Moore's films provide a perfect opportunity to theorize.

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