MANUFACTURING DISSENT (Debbie Melnyk, Rick Caine). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (July 20). Rating: NNN
In Manufacturing Dissent , left-wing polemicist Michael Moore gets the camera turned on him. Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine follow Moore for months during the 2004 presidential election, trying to interview him. Although he's friendly to their faces, his handlers repeatedly forbid them to film him and even kick them out of one of the rallies he's leading.
A picture emerges of a defensive man who manipulates evidence to suit his purposes, who can dish it out but can't take it. During his (admittedly justified) live rant on CNN last week after the news net aired a story questioning Sicko's accuracy, Moore said he rarely goes on taped shows for fear his responses will be edited (although he seems to have no problem omitting information from his films that doesn't conform to his point of view.)
But I wish the filmmakers had delved deeper into the question of what, if any, are the accepted rules for documentarians. Moore's right when he says all media, including the "objective" press, leave stuff on the cutting room floor.
This film gives a lot of time to Moore's critics - is this a fair representation of his standing, or are the directors pissed about his treatment of them? Are Moore's sins as great as his detractors claim?
With a bit more context, this documentary could have been as thought-provoking as the best of Moore's work.