Bowling for Columbine
was, to use a hugely over-used phrase, thought provoking. Some parts were funny, some were sad, some made me angry, and some made me uncomfortable. The mood swung back and forth from minute to minute.
Michael Moore raised more questions that he gave answers , but that is not surprising. The subject of violence in general, and gun violence in particular does not lend itself to pat answers tied up in neat little ribbons. The movie did an excellent job at raising questions, and Moore's earnest concern for those who are hurting propelled his quest for answers.
His deep empathy for the downtrodden, combined with an artful naivete puts him at odds with those in positions of power, be they movie-stars, politicians, or PR managers. I admire the childlike logic about the way the world should work; which sends him into KMarts headquarters to return the bullets lodged in a high school student's body; which send him door to door to see if people in Canada really don't lock their houses; which sends him after celebrities to hold them accountable for their actions. He wants people to play fair, just like we were taught in kindergarten.
Of course, he doesn't play fair, either. Over and over in the movie, we see him putting people on the spot, forcing them into no-win situations where they will either lose outrigth, or win, but look like an asshole. His editing skill with sound bites allows people's own words t play them the fool, leaving them hoist on their own petard. The emotions of the viewer (in this case, me) are made fresh and raw by clip after clip of real life violence. No matter how many times I see the second plane flying into the south tower, the pain of that moment does not lessen. Seeing the actual security and crime scene footage of the Columbine shooting was also unsettling. On the whole, the multiple clips of people shooting themselves and others began to feel like a snuff film. Real death and real pain made larger than life for our viewing pleasure. Even as Moore critiques our culture of violence and voyeurism, he feeds that same beast.
That aside, there were some startlingly good interviews (Marilyn Manson!) and many good points to ponder. I found it as a whole to be brash yet sensitive. I would like to see it again. Perhaps once more on the big screen, and then again as a recording, so that I can stop and jump around, fact check (I'd love to check on some of the stats) and examine some thoughts more thoughroughly.
I recommend this movie for the curious and the open minded, but warn that it is not for the faint of heart.