Un Homme Apart. While I never thought I would ever agree with Maoist French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard about anything, I must admit he's got a point here:
Jean-Luc Godard, the legendary French director who helped to launch the New Wave movement in the 1960s, had harsh words for Moore this week. Godard's latest film, Notre Musique, premiered on Monday, the same day as Fahrenheit 9/11. Later in the week, Godard lashed out at Moore at a press conference, calling him "halfway intelligent."
Godard, who hadn't seen Fahrenheit 9/11, compared it unfavourably to the work of American documentarian Frederick Wiseman. "It's like two different worlds," Godard said.
Moore's film criticizes U.S. President George W. Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, and also highlights the links between Bush's family and the family of Osama bin Laden. But Godard said Moore's film was an ineffectual piece of work.
"He's not even hurting Bush," Godard said. "He's helping him in an underground way. Bush is either less stupid than he looks or so stupid you can't change him."
Godard went on to say that the Flint, Mich.-born director lacks subtlety. "Moore doesn't distinguish between text and image," Godard argued. "He doesn't know what he's doing."
I think Godard has a good argument when its comes to Moore's skills as a filmmaker, both in the political and cinematic sense. While Godard may be a flaming totalitarian Leftist with occasional anti-semitic tendancies, and an all around arrogant pain-in-the-ass who Francois Truffaut once famously referred to as "the Bridget Bardot of radical cinema" and "a piece of shit on a pedestal", he's still a fairly smart guy. He's actually read all those books the Leftist celebrities just talk about. He knows Moore is, to say the least, politically unserious. He's a partisan demagogue who has worked himself into a lather out of his very personal, emotional, and decidedly unintellectual hatred of the president of the United States. When it comes down to it, however, Moore doesn't know what he's talking about, and such people always do more harm than good.
Godard is also, at heart, a lover of cinema. And Moore's films, from a purely aesthetic point of view, are atrocious. Unlike documentarians like Errol Morris or D.A. Pennebaker, Moore's films have no sense of the medium whatsoever. They are choppy, simplistic, bombastic, inelegant agitprop. They seem to be shot and edited in a banal, slapped-together style more reminiscent of television than cinema. For Godard, to be politically stupid is one thing, to be political stupid and also produce bad cinema is unforgiveable. Personally, I agree with him.