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Directed by
Mike Moore
120 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Mike Esler
3.5 stars

Bowling For Columbine

Synopsis: One of America's foremost social commentators and critics, Michael Moore, shambles across the country like a curious wombat, poking his nose gently, but persistently, into controversy-fertile pastures. In this feature-length documentary, he asks: "Are we (America) a nation of gun nuts - or are we just nuts? "

At the core of Michael Moore's story is the Columbine High School massacre of 12 students and a teacher in 1999 in Colorado. The film's title refers to the bowling class that the two shooters supposedly attended prior to their rampage. In the frenzied moral autopsies that followed, everything from rock music to bad parenting was blamed. Moore insists this would be as stupid as blaming the influence of ten pin bowling. With this bizarre but thought-provoking tenet in mind, Moore's search for causality to America's well-documented phenomenon of violence began. The fact that it is so well-documented is why few will really be surprised by the numerous facts, figures and god-awful scenarios Moore serves up - instances of such stupidity that I was laughing as often as I was cringing. Whilst the stories of gun-toting teenagers and paranoid citizens are painful to consume, Moore never rants or judges. His gift is to put it up there for us to decide. He cleverly lets his targets hang themselves, most particularly toward the end of the film during an amazing face-to-face with the world's biggest gun nut, Charlton Heston.

It is comforting to know Moore is out there trying to bring the bad guys to some form of accountability. But I do despair that this film is in the end a brave but doomed attempt, albeit an entertaining and engrossing one, to mitigate a horrifying situation.

75 years ago British film-maker and critic John Grierson described the then-developing documentary genre as an instrument of information, education and propaganda as well as a creative treatment of reality. Bowling For Columbine, is certainly all that - and Moore.




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