Reviews

Reviews

Manufacturing Dissent

Manufacturing Dissent

Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk

Canada, 2007

Credits

Review by Rumsey Taylor

Posted on 13 March 2007

Source 35mm print

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Features: The 2007 South by Southwest Film Festival

Michael Moore is the most successful documentary filmmaker in history, and he has taken quantifiable liberties in each of his films: in Roger & Me, he omitted an interview with Roger Smith, former CEO of General Motors; his apprehending a gun in exchange for activating a bank account was staged (and incurred weeks of preproduction so the contrivance would seem authentic) in Bowling for Columbine; and much of the footage in Fahrenheit 9/11 depicting an insensitive George Bush is shown wildly out of context.

Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk’s film is resolute in reinforcing Moore’s illegitimacies as a documentary filmmaker. They do so with precisely the same agenda, but without the same tactics—their cautious ambushes (they trail Moore on his well-attended lectures on college campuses) pervade the film with a peculiar irony. Moore is such a domineering presence in his films he seems capable of conjuring controversy at every turn; co-director Melnyk, as the emcee herein, is totally passive. She comes face-to-face with Moore at several instances, and in each seems a bit frenzied and speechless, her questions faltering, and Moore’s excuses to leave imminent.

Manufacturing Dissent was preceded by an informal poll: who loves him and his films, and who does not—the responses were equally enthusiastic and divided. An indifferent responder, I happen to admire Moore’s films. Despite their questionable agendas (as well as Moore’s caustic persona), I find them consistently entertaining—this is, if you can overlook their objectionable legitimacy as documentaries. Caine and Melnyk’s film is intent in questioning such legitimacies, which it does well; it’s just as propagandistic as a Michael Moore film, but not as entertaining.

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