Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Michael Moore in Trumpland

Grade : A- Year : 2016 Director : Michael Moore Running Time : 1hr 13min Genre :
Movie review score

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Moore announced that he had a new film for America. The last time he surprised us with one during an election was in 2008 with “Slacker Uprising,” about getting voter turnout elevated among young people who had been energized by Barack Obama. It’s a slight film, and easily forgettable in the context of his body of work, but still a fun little piece of activist cinema from Moore. This year, Moore has turn his gaze to the Trump-supporting town of Wilmington, Ohio, for a one night show of politics and reaching out to undecideds in the hope of getting them to vote for Hillary Clinton when Election Day comes around tomorrow. Like “Slacker Uprising,” it’s better as an activist essay as a work of cinema, but it’s still an entertaining 73 minutes from Moore.

Wait a minute, you may be asking- didn’t Moore vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary? He did, in fact, as I did. Both of us will, in fact, be voting for Clinton for the first times in our lives, because we see Donald Trump as a singularly dangerous threat to the great American experiment. The truth is, though, I have a feeling Moore would be voting for Hillary even without Trump in the picture, and that’s the most surprising thing to come out of “Trumpland.” He asks his crowd for what they don’t like about her, and we hear some of the familiar answers- she isn’t trustworthy, Benghazi and Vince Foster all come up, sometimes because Moore brings them up. But in a way only he can, he brings the facts out with humor, and a simple truth- if Hillary were truly as responsible for the deaths she’s been accused of, why would we NOT want her in the White House? (Hell, send her into the field attacking ISIS, even.) He then asks his audience for things they like about her, and he gets some good answers that most people would agree with, leading the second half of the film to be a surprisingly frank and emotional appreciation of Hillary and why she would make a fantastic President, and what she’s dealt with throughout her life. It’s one of the most inspiring arguments FOR Clinton that I’ve ever heard, and it came from someone I’ve always associated as being against her and Bill. He has legit reasons not to like her- I also share his skepticism on her hawkish support of the Iraq War and ties to Wall Street- but when you hear about the crap she had thrown her way while trying to bring universal health care to this country, what she had to overcome in her own career after marrying Bill, and the stories of when Michael Moore met Bill and Hillary around the time of Bill’s impeachment, it’s hard not to feel like we’ve had her wrong all these years. He seems to win over the crowd in that auditorium with his populist, humorist view- he certainly got me thinking differently about voting for her.

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