MANUFACTURING DISSENT (Debbie Melnyk, Rick Caine, Canada/Australia). 96 minutes. Sunday (April 22), 9 pm, Bloor; Tuesday (April 24), 7 pm, Royal. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
In Manufacturing Dissent, Michael Moore, left-wing polemicist and schlubby satirist extraodinaire, gets the camera turned on him for once. Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine follow Moore for months as he visits college campuses during the 2004 presidential election, trying to get an interview with him. Although he's friendly whenever they confront him, his handlers repeatedly forbid them to film him and even kick them out of one of the rallies he's leading. The picture that emerges is of a defensive man who manipulates the evidence to make his points, and who can dish it out but can't take it.
Charges of falsification and paranoia have followed Moore for years, and both supporters and detractors discuss them frankly here.
I wish the filmmakers had delved a bit deeper into the question of what the rules are for documentarians, if there are any. Moore's not wrong when he says all media, despite their claims to "objectivity," leave stuff on the cutting-room floor; this film, for instance, shows more talking-head interviews with his critics than with his supporters. So are Moore's sins as great as his detractors make them out to be?
Had this doc investigated these questions further, we might be able to say.