Between his guerrilla-style filmmaking, ironic sense of humor and explosive rhetoric, Michael Moore has come to be either a folk hero or a political pariah depending on where you sit. And yet hailing from Flint, Mich. has made him uniquely positioned to address a wide swath of America’s woes. You may not agree with any of his politics, but damn if Moore’s movies aren’t entertaining, and no one does agitprop better. This ranking of his theatrical, feature documentaries, including his latest “Fahrenheit 11/9,” will be polarizing, but then his movies are supposed to be.
10. “Slacker Uprising” (2007)
Merely a collection of footage from Michael Moore’s stadium tour ahead of the 2004 Kerry-Bush election, “Slacker Uprising” lacks much of a focus or even a strong thesis. But far worse is how Moore positions himself as a rock star, editing in endless applause breaks of his fans or even multiple introductions by actual rock stars like Eddie Vedder or Steve Earl. The only thing Moore did right with this film was release it for free online.
9. “Michael Moore in Trumpland” (2016)
Less of a documentary and quite literally a taping of his one-man stage show in Ohio, “Trumpland” plays like Moore’s half-hearted attempt at stand-up comedy. It’s filled with lots of uneasy clapping and stern looking white dudes crossing their arms as they silently boil over with rage. The film is not without insight, and Moore makes a good case that Hillary Clinton is secretly more progressive than she ever let on. But Moore made this appeal to Trump country in the hopes they would wake up and recognize their buyers’ remorse. How did that go?
8. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
“Capitalism: A Love Story” marries Moore’s best ideas and worst impulses. He was tackling the housing crisis and calling out the One Percent before most caught wind, even talking with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders before they were cool. But in order to paint capitalism as the scourge of society, he blames it for a deadly plane crash, he stops short at actually explaining derivatives, he makes simplistic analogies comparing America to the Roman Empire, and he even briefly rehashes “Roger & Me” for a punch line. Fans of his films won’t find much to disagree with, but Moore looks like a parody of himself here.
7. The Big One (1997)
Here’s another movie where Moore documents his own tour, this time to promote his book. But “The Big One” is both insightful and a lot of frivolous fun. His scrappy, guerrilla style is very much on display, swooping in on strikes and plant closings and speaking with everyone from ex-cons to the then CEO of Nike. There are even some hilarious moments where Moore hangs out at Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen’s house and uses Rick’s advice to prank his media escort.
6. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Not only is “Fahrenheit 9/11” the most successful documentary ever, it’s also among the most controversial. Now in the Trump era, George W. Bush’s actions look almost quaint, and Moore himself sounds like a conspiracy theorist asking open-ended questions and drawing tenuous connections between Bush and the bin Laden family. It even lacks some of Moore’s wit and visual intrigue. But “Fahrenheit 9/11” eventually evolves into a sobering portrait of the American military. Moore shines a terrifying light on predatory recruitment agents, on soldiers taking glee from killing and on a patriotic mother who realizes she’s lost her son in an unjust war. Moore didn’t ultimately swing the election for Kerry, but the importance of this movie in its time can’t be oversold.
5. Where to Invade Next (2015)
“Where to Invade Next” opens with a red herring. Six years removed from his previous film, Moore makes it seem like he’s now on a war path, saying America’s generals and top officials have “no idea what the f— we’re doing,” and only he can save the day. But the film is actually surprisingly optimistic for Moore, a world tour to see how the other half lives. American audiences will be genuinely surprised at what French kids have for school lunches, how Norway treats its most dangerous criminals or how Portugal is really cool towards drugs and is better for it. It’s not meant to criticize America but to champion and borrow the best ideas from abroad.
4. Sicko (2007)
Moore’s films are always emotional, but rarely are they this heartwarming. Rather than tell the story of those without insurance, he tells the countless, baffling horror stories of all those in America who do. Their stories are not just stunning but instantly relatable, and Moore taps into every angle of how insurance companies have screwed over sick people in need. And the film’s closing stunt may be his best, taking a boat of 9/11 first responders to Guantanamo Bay and Cuba to get better healthcare than would be available to them at home.
3. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
For the last 15 years, we’ve watched every late night show and news program basically remake portions of Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine.” The film was scarily ahead of the curve on the gun debate, and the raw surveillance footage of the Columbine attacks blended with 9-1-1 calls is harrowing filmmaking that Moore does more effectively than anyone. But for Moore, it’s not just the number of guns America has, he also questions the media, the NRA and our culture of violence. Between interviews with Marilyn Manson, Charlton Heston and friendly Canadians, Moore succeeds in making “Bowling for Columbine” a movie not just about guns, but about everything.
2. Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)
There’s only so much even Michael Moore could say about Trump that hasn’t been endlessly repeated in the media since 2016. So amazingly, he doesn’t, going a full hour without mentioning Trump’s name. He returns to Flint to make a convincing argument that their water crisis is a preview for what Trump is capable of doing. He even points the finger at legacy Democrats and is heartbreakingly critical of President Obama. Moore isn’t hopeful that Robert Mueller will save the day or that things won’t get much worse, painting a scary parallel between how the media reacted to the rise of Hitler. But he is optimistic. Moore spends time with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Parkland students and the West Virginia teacher’s union to see how change is still possible, even if he wants you to leave with the idea that the American ideal never really existed.
1. Roger & Me (1989)
Moore’s first film is still his finest. No one had ever seen a guy so calmly persistent with the camera watching him waltz into these institutions of wealth and power. Those iconic shots have literally followed him his entire career, and his simple, sarcastic logic, devilish wit and nasally Midwestern accent helped make him an icon. To see the rundown Flint streets to the tune of The Beach Boys or hear a GM executive plainly talk up profits over people remains heartbreaking. But somewhere between human statues at a Great Gatsby party and a woman skinning alive a rabbit for meat, “Roger & Me” still feels like a timeless portrait of the class divide and the gobsmacking lengths Americans go through to get by.
www.thewrap.com | 9/20/18
We now know what Cate Blanchett’s jury thought of the films that screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival: “a very strong year,” she said at the jury’s festival-ending press conference. And we know what buyers thought of the festival lineup: not bad, judging by the deals.
But what will Oscar voters think?
That’s always a tricky question, because the connection between the world’s most prestigious film festival and the world’s most celebrated film award can fluctuate wildly. In 2011, for example, three of the films that screened at the festival — “The Artist,” “The Tree of Life” and “Midnight in Paris” — landed Best Picture nominations, with “The Artist” winning.
But the success rate hasn’t approached that since then, although 2016 had an impressive across-the-board showing: One Best Picture nominee (“Hell of High Water”), the Best Foreign Language Film winner (“The Salesman”), six other nominees in the Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Feature categories and eight more films submitted by their home countries in the foreign language race.
Last year, though, was more typical: two foreign nominees (“The Square” and “Loveless”), one supporting actor nominee (Willem Dafoe for “The Florida Project”) and one documentary nominee (“Faces Places”), with no winners among them.
Realistically, this year’s crop of Cannes films will probably fare similarly once Oscar voters get a look at them. The only film that screened at the festival or one of its sidebars that has a significant chance of landing a Best Picture nomination is Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” which could well be in the conversation once U.S. audiences get a look at it later this summer.
Lee’s film, which mixes humor with incendiary anger and looks at the state of America today through a story set in the 1970s, is timely enough and strong enough to be a real player, though it will likely divide critics and audiences in America more than it did in Cannes.
Otherwise, Ron Howard’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” seems destined for below-the-line categories at best, while a surge of attention for Paul Dano’s understated “Wildlife,” which premiered at Sundance but also screened in Cannes’ Critics’ Week sidebar, could make it a dark-horse contender in the adapted screenplay category.
A few Cannes documentaries could also have a shot, foremost among them Kevin Macdonald’s “Whitney,” which drew headlines out of Cannes for its allegations that Whitney Houston was sexually abused as a child by a relative. Wim Wenders’ “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” will likely be in the conversation, and so might be “The State Against Mandela and the Others” and “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache.”
But really, the most fruitful connection between Cannes and the Oscars this year will likely come in the foreign language category. Only six of the 93 countries that submitted films to the Oscars last year chose Cannes entries, but we could easily see double that many submissions come from this year’s festival.
While the individual committees that select each country’s entry can be making their decisions on the basis of politics, cronyism and lots of other factors, a Cannes berth is a powerful sign that the film might have international interest.
Among the no-brainer selections: Lebanon’s “Capharnaum,” the Jury Prize winner and the film that received the longest and loudest ovation of the festival; Poland’s “Cold War” from director Pawel Pawlikowski, whose last film, “Ida,” won the foreign language Oscar; Belgium’s “Girl,” which won the Camera d’Or and the Un Certain Regard performance award; Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” from a director (Ciro Guerra) whose last film was an Oscar nominee; and Turkey’s “The Wild Pear Tree,” whose director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has been responsible for four previous Turkish submissions.
Kenya’s “Rafiki,” a same-sex romance that is the first Kenyan film ever accepted to the Oscars, would be an easy choice if it hadn’t been banned in its home country — though if the submitting committee is independent enough to choose it, the ban could give it a boost. First-time director A.B. Shawky’s “Yomeddine” seems likely to be the Egyptian entry, while the Cannes acting award that went to Samal Yesyamova should be enough to put “Ayka” at the top of Kazakhstan’s submission list.
The Icelandic film “Woman at War,” which was bought by Magnolia for the U.S., comes from Benedikt Erlingsson, whose brilliant “Of Horses and Men” was the country’s 2013 submission, though it may have been too weird for Oscar voters. Portugal’s soccer story “Diamantino” seems a logical choice, as does Hungary’s “One Day.”
Countries like France and Italy always have a plethora of choices, which holds true this year even if they don’t consider anything except Cannes movies. Italy, for example, could opt for Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” which won the festival’s best actor award and is from the director of the acclaimed “Gomorrah” (which Oscar voters didn’t go for); or Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro,” a fable that won the screenplay award and was widely thought to be a real Palme d’Or contender.
And France has a variety of possibilities, including Christophe Honore’s “Sorry Angel,” Stephane Brize’s “At War,” Vanessa Filho’s “Angel Face,” Gilles Lellouche’s audience-friendly “Sink or Swim,” Camille Vidal-Naquet’s “Sauvage” or even Gaspar Noe’s hallucinatory “Climax.”
But France could also opt for Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun,” a tough but mainstream war movie about an all-female unit fighting terrorists. It didn’t fare well with Cannes critics, but it could easily become a favorite of the Academy’s foreign language voters.
The biggest question marks might surround the Asian films. Japan, China and South Korea swing between submitting critical favorites and trying to second-guess Oscar voters by choosing less daring movies or big epics. So while China has strong candidates in Jia Zhang-Ke’s “Ash Is Purest White” or Bi Gan’s rapturously received “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” it’s anybody’s guess as to whether their selection committee will deem those films acceptable. Likewise with South Korea and Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning,” which was clearly the hit of the festival, and Japan with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” which won the Palme d’Or.
The director of the last of those films has been down this road before. In an interview with TheWrap in 2014, Kore-eda admitted that he was disappointed when “Like Father, Like Son,” which won the Jury Prize in Cannes, was passed over in favor of “The Great Passage” when Japan made its 2013 Oscar submission.
“But honestly, given the track record of how that committee in Japan decides on their films, I was not surprised,” he said. “The committee isn’t particularly interested in the world’s criteria on these films.”
Oh, one more thing:
Lars von Trier’s “The House That Jack Built”? Not a chance.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 5/20/18
[This Day] The need to promote the adoption of sustainable energy practices in sub-Saharan Africa will be a key talking point by a host of government heads, cabinet ministers and key energexperts, including, Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director of Sahara Power Group at the Horasis Global Meeting in Cascais, Portugal from Saturday, May 5, 2018.
allafrica.com | 5/11/18
A report by an international watchdog has warned that Portugal has a "very low level of compliance" with recommendations on fighting government corruption.
www.foxnews.com | 3/6/18
[IPS] In the United States, the 21 young people who are plaintiffs in the case Juliana v. United States will soon make their case against the government for failing to take action against climate change. Similar lawsuits have been filed in countries including Portugal, India, and Pakistan.
allafrica.com | 2/5/18
Landline networks like the old phone system and the new(er) cable systems do lend themselves to monopoly or at least duopoly outcomes. Building these networks is both very expensive and requires myriad government approvals. Once a system is in place, it is hard for anyone to raise the capital to duplicate it. Even a network of wireless towers is hard to compete with. It's hard enough to get a permit to build a tower to serve unserved areas ("it'll ruin my view"; "it will stop the wildebeests from migrating"). It's much harder to get permitted for a tower whose "only" purpose is to increase competition.
It is a fact that we have little competition for Internet access, especially in rural areas. This lack of competition and mediocre service from incumbents is why most of my friends in the tech world supported the "Net Neutrality" regulations promulgated in 2015, which allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet under the same terms as it regulated the phone network. The FCC did not regulate rates for Internet access, although it gave itself the authority to do so. They are furious that the FCC rescinded this regulation last month. They are right, in my opinion, that there is too little competition in access. They are wrong, also in my opinion, that regulation is the way to solve the local oligopoly problem.
Regulation acknowledges monopoly and protects it. Incumbents like utilities learn to live with regulation. They hire staffs of regulatory lawyers. They avoid innovation — it's expensive and may raise regulatory issues. If innovations succeed, the incumbents argue, the regulators will make the utility give back the profits. If innovations fail, the utility's shareholders will have to pay the cost. Most important, protected monopolies don't have to worry about competition in the marketplace. They can count on the burden of regulatory compliance and the relatively low return of regulated businesses to make it impossible for a would-be challenger to raise capital. These are the reasons why the regulated phone network was almost an innovation-free zone for sixty years.
But now the net neutrality regulations have been repealed. Ironically, startups in the last mile access business are using that repeal as a fund-raising pitch. Daniela Perdomo is the cofounder and CEO of goTenna, a company which provides meshed connectivity for messaging and location sharing without using any connections to commercial networks. She says "Society requires connectivity to function and to advance, but we are leaving telecommunications in the hands of a few large corporations. The lack of a choice is a problem." To an innovator, every problem is an opportunity,
GoTenna is no threat to AT&T — yet. But, because goTenna doesn't require any infrastructure, it was able to bring basic communication to parts of hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico immediately. Solar-charging is plenty of energy for goTenna to operate, so they require neither an electrical grid nor generators. Mesh networks like goTenna gain capacity with each user they add so they can grow without the enormous capital expense. Needless to say, no permitting required. So far goTenna users can only talk to other in their mesh. But if meshes connected by sat phone…
Veniam provides meshed networking between vehicles. This mesh does have access to the full Internet which it reaches through a combination of cellular connections and WiFi hotspots; among other uses are free WiFi for bus riders (and passenger information for the transit providers). At any moment a connection to the Internet may be directly to a hotspot or hopped through a mesh of vehicles. There are currently Veniam nets in Porto, Portugal, New York City, and Singapore. An obvious future use of Veniam is critical communication between autonomous vehicles.
I think that growth of companies like goTenna and Veniam will be super-charged by the end of Net Neutrality regulation. Lack of innovation and mediocre service from incumbents creates a need. Investors will like that there is no longer a threat, in the US at least, that regulators will decide that some service they are offering isn't properly "neutral". Even defending such a claim could stop a small company in its tracks. It's possible that one of these companies or a company like them will want to offer a "fast lane" for emergency service or communication between autonomous vehicles. Under the "net neutrality" rules they wouldn't have been allowed to. There is no longer a threat of "rate-of-return" utility price controls. Regulation smothers innovation.
I may be an optimist to think that deregulation will topple the access network oligarchies. But I know that regulation would preserve the unsatisfactory status quo.
Full disclosure, I am indirectly a very small investor in both goTenna and Veniam.
Written by Tom Evslin
www.circleid.com | 1/2/18
Traditional early morning Japanese breakfast, briefing on objectives, equipment check and drive into the beautiful mountainous forests of this region: this is the daily routine that will allow us to complete our latest investigation into the radiological status in some of the most contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture.
But there is nothing normal about the routine in Fukushima.
Nearly seven years after the triple reactor meltdown, this unique nuclear crisis is still underway. Of the many complex issues resulting from the disaster, one in particular may have become routine but is anything but normal: the vast amounts of nuclear waste, stored and being transported across Fukushima prefecture.
A satellite image shows damage at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant In Fukushima Prefecture.
As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, gases and particulates which vented into the atmosphere, led to radioactive fallout greater than 10,000 becquerels per square meter contaminating an estimated 8 percent, or 24,000 square kilometers, of the landmass of Japan. The highest concentrations (greater than 1 million becquerels per meter square) centered in an area more than than 400 square kilometers within Fukushima prefecture.
In the period 2013-14, the Japanese government set about a decontamination program with the objective of being able to lift evacuation orders in the Special Decontaminated Area (SDA) of Fukushima prefecture. Other areas of Fukushima and other prefectures where contamination was lower but significant were also subject to decontamination efforts in the so called Intensive Contamination Survey Area (ICSA).
Two areas of the SDA in particular were subject to concentrated efforts between 2014-2016, namely Iitate and Namie. A total of 24-28,000 people formally lived in these areas, with all evacuated in the days and months following the March 2011 disaster.
The decontamination program consisted of scraping, reverse tillage and removal of top soil from farmland, stripping and removal of soil from school yards, parks and gardens, trimming and cutting of contaminated trees and plants in a 20 meter area around peoples homes, and the same along a 10-15 meter strip either side of the roads, including into the nearby forests.
Aerial view of nuclear waste storage area in the mountainous forests of Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan.
This program involved millions of work hours and tens of thousands workers (often Fukushima citizens displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and reactor meltdown), and often homeless and recruited off the streets of cities, and exploited for a wage of 70 dollars a day to work long hours in a radioactive environment. All this for a man-made nuclear disaster officially estimated at costing 21 trillion yen but with other estimates as high as 70 trillion yen.
As of March 2017, the decontamination program was officially declared complete and evacuation orders were lifted for the less contaminated areas of Namie and Iitate, so called area 2. The even higher radiation areas of Iitate and Namie, Area 3, and where no decontamination program has been applied, remain closed to habitation.
In terms of effectiveness, radiation levels in these decontaminated zones have been reduced in many areas but there are also multiple examples where levels remain significantly above the governments long range target levels. In addition to where decontamination has been only partially effective, the principle problem for Iitate and Namie is that the decontamination has created islands where levels have been reduced, but which are surrounded by land, and in particular, forested mountains, for which there is no possible decontamination. Forests make up more than 70% of these areas.
As a consequence, areas decontaminated are subject to recontamination through weathering processes and the natural water and lifecycle of trees and rivers. Given the half life of the principle radionuclide of concern – cesium-137 at 30 years – this will be an on-going source of significant recontamination for perhaps ten half lives – or 300 years.
Greenpeace documents the ongoing radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan. The area is still contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.
So apart from the decontamination not covering the largest areas of significant contamination in the forested mountains of Fukushima, and in reality only a small fraction of the total landmass of contaminated areas, the program has generated almost unimaginable volumes of nuclear waste. According to the Japanese Government Ministry of Environment in its September 2017 report, a total of 7.5 million nuclear waste bags (equal to 8.4 million m³) from within the SDA was in storage across Fukushima.
A further 6 million m³ of waste is generated in the ICSA within Fukushima prefecture (but not including waste produced from the wider ICSA which stretches from Iwati prefecture in the north to Chiba in the south on the outskirts of Tokyo). In total nuclear waste generated from decontamination is stored at over 1000 Temporary Storage Sites (TSS) and elsewhere at 141,000 locations across Fukushima.
The Government projects a total of 30 million m³ of waste will be generated, of which 10 million is to be incinerated, generating 1 million cubic meters of highly contaminated ash waste. Options to use some of the less contaminated waste in construction of walls and roads is actively under consideration.
Government policy is for all of this waste to be deposited at two sites north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at Okuma and Futaba – both of which remain closed to habitation at present but which are targeted for limited resettlement as early as 2021. Although the facilities are not completed yet, they are supposed to be in operation only for 30 years – after which the waste is to be deposited in a permanent site. The reality is there is no prospects of this waste being moved to another permanent site anywhere else in Japan.
As we conducted our radiation survey work across Fukushima in September and October 2017, it was impossible not to witness the vast scale of both the waste storage areas and the volume of nuclear transports that are now underway. Again the numbers are numbing.
In the space of one hour standing in a main street of Iitate village, six nuclear waste trucks passed us by. Not really surprising since in the year to October over 34,000 trucks moved nuclear waste across Fukushima to Okuma and Futaba. The target volume of waste to be moved to these sites in 2017 is 500,000 m³. And this is only the beginning. By 2020, the Government is planning for as much as 6.5 million m³ of nuclear waste to be transported to the Futaba and Okuma sites – a rough estimate would mean over one million nuclear transports in 2020.
On any measure this is insanity – and yet the thousands of citizens who formally lived in Namie and Iitate are expected and pressurized by the Japanese government to return to live amidst this nuclear disaster zone.
Perhaps one of the most shocking experience in our visit to Fukushima was to witness a vast incineration complex hidden deep in the woods of southern Iitate and a nearby vast storage area with tens of thousands of waste bags surrounded on all sides by thick forests. The tragic irony of a multi-billion dollar and ultimately failed policy of decontamination that has unnecessarily exposed thousands of poorly protected and desperate workers to radiation – but which leads to a vast nuclear dump surrounded by a radioactive forest which that can never be decontaminated.
There is no logic to this, unless you are a trucking and incineration business and of course the Japanese government, desperate to create the myth of recovery after Fukushima. On this evidence there is no 'after', only 'forever'.
This new abnormal in Fukushima is a direct result of the triple reactor meltdown and a cynical government policy that prioritizes the unattainable fantasy of effective radioactive decontamination, while de-prioritising the safety, health and well being of the people of Fukushima.
The nuclear waste crisis underway in Fukushima is only one of the many reasons why the Japanese government was under scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last month. Recommendations were submitted to the United Nations by the governments of Austria, Mexico, Portugal and Germany at the calling on the Japanese government to take further measures to support the evacuees of Fukushima, in particular women and children.
The Government in Tokyo is to announce its decision on whether it accepts or rejects these recommendations at the United Nations in March 2018. Greenpeace, together with other human rights groups and civil society in Japan are calling on the government to accept that it has failed to defend the rights of its citizens and to agree to implement corrective measures immediately.
Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany
feedproxy.google.com | 12/16/17
Politics in Portugal take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. The President of the Republic is the head of state and has several significant political powers, which he exercises often. Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Assembly of the Republic. Since 1975 the party system is dominated by the social democratic Socialist Party and the liberal conservative Social Democratic Party. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.