Cannes Wrap-Up: Michael Moore's Latest And Leo's Global Warming Doc

by | May 20, 2007 | Comments

Michael Moore‘s latest doc, "Sicko," has stirred up more controversy for the Michigan muckraker. Is he onto something with his evisceration of the US healthcare system? Plus, "The 11th Hour," a climate change doc featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, and "Boarding Gate," an unconvincing, sleazy thriller starring Asia Argento and Michael Madsen — all here at Cannes!

"Sicko," Michael Moore‘s latest polemic, contains many of the same problems as his previous works: it’s a manipulative oversimplification of a complex issue. And like Moore’s other films, it also contains more than a kernel of truth and not a little entertainment as well. Screening out of competition at Cannes, "Sicko" is a screed against health care insurers in the United States. Utilizing the same style as his previous docs (onscreen interviews, stock footage, a bemused voiceover), Moore contends that the health of Americans has been compromised because of the greed and insensitivity of an industry focused on profit. This argument has plenty of weight when he points out that Americans put themselves in the hands of the government for such services as schools and police; what’s wrong with health care? And Moore dredges up a number of horror stories, including poor people ejected from hospitals because they were unable to pay, to others denied lifesaving procedures while being mired in bureaucratic red tape.

Moore is on shakier ground when he travels to Canada, Great Britain, and France, each of which provides universal health care to its citizens. He posits that citizens in these nations are perfectly satisfied with their level of care. Unfortunately, some of Moore’s utopian extrapolations in this regard don’t hold water; it was reported that at a press conference after the screening, some Canadian journalists challenged Moore’s rosy assumptions, and Moore admitted that national health care in Canada, while free, is still under-funded.


Michael Moore has a point to make about healthcare in his latest, "Sicko."

"Sicko"’s biggest (and most controversial) stunt involves bringing a group of 9/11 rescue workers, who contracted various unrelenting ailments while working at Ground Zero, to Guantanamo, where the U.S. government claims detainees are receiving health care that’s equivalent to or better than the average American. After being ignored, Moore heads for Cuba, where the relief workers are able to purchase the drugs for which they’ve been paying hundreds of dollars for pennies. This segment is troubling on several levels. Regardless of one’s thoughts on the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Moore cannot seriously believe its healthcare system is ideal. On the other hand, what does it say about the U.S. that it cannot care for its heroes?

For those who have tired of Moore’s confrontational onscreen persona, he’s largely in the background in "Sicko." This may be Moore’s most quietly angry film to date. I won’t deny I was entertained while watching "Sicko," and I don’t disagree with Moore’s central premise. However, as with "Roger & Me" and "Bowling for Columbine," Moore may get the forest right, but the trees are a bit out of place.

Moore remains a darling of Cannes (he won the Palme d’Or for "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004), and "Sicko" received a long ovation at the screening I attended. It’s also received fresh reviews in Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and Salon.


Leonardo DiCaprio talks global warming in "11th Hour."

"The 11th Hour" is the latest in the growing sub-genre of global warming documentaries. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film features a number of talking heads, including Stephen Hawking, Mikhail Gorbachev, Andrew Weil, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Each makes a similar argument in different ways: The temperature of earth is increasing because of human behavior, and we don’t have much time to rectify the situation. But the film leavens its doomsday prophesies with optimism, advancing the notion that green-friendly business could maintain economic growth while diminishing the impact to the environment. "The 11th Hour" is reasonably well done, but it often feels like a film more suited to a science class than the big screen. It also lacks the focus and wit of "An Inconvenient Truth"; that film greatly benefited from Al Gore‘s straight-ahead argument, whereas "The 11th Hour" seems a bit disjointed by comparison. Still, even if this isn’t the most cinematically compelling take on the subject of global warming, "The 11th Hour" makes a timely and important argument that should be heeded.


There’s a lot going on here at Cannes; check out our blog here.

A necessary element of a successful thriller is the ability to empathize with characters in peril; on this, and many other levels, "Boarding Gate" fails. This exercise in sleazy globetrotting stars Asia Argento as ex-hooker Sandra and Michael Madsen as Miles, her washed-up businessman ex. The pair has a twisted relationship, which involves a lot of verbal challenges and lurid mind games. Sandra is also involved with Lester (Carl Ng), with whom she conspires to take down Miles. After completing her task, Sandra goes on the run, ending up in Hong Kong where she’s pursued by… well, somebody. Do we care about her? Not really. Argento and Madsen, who have been compelling elsewhere, are so fundamentally unlikable here that it’s hard to shake the feeling that these two deserve each other; though Sandra’s nominally the protagonist, she seems as amoral as Miles. "Boarding Gate" isn’t without visual interest, but it’s also confusing and lacks any real human element. "Boarding Gate" prompted more than a few walkouts and incredulous laughs at the press screening I attended, and it also received outright pans in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

In addition, here are some other notable films that have screened at Cannes in the past few days: "L’Avocat de la Terreur," Barbet Schroeder‘s doc about a French attorney famous for representing accused war criminals and terrorists, has received strong reviews from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter; on the other hand, "Les Chansons d’Amour," Christophe Honore‘s musical, has gotten mixed notices.


Screening tomorrow: "Death Proof!"

Tomorrow, we’ll be catching screenings of Quentin Tarantino‘s "Death Proof," "A Mighty Heart," starring Angelina Jolie, and Gus Van Sant‘s "Paranoid Park." Check back for more of RT’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival.

Tag Cloud

Musicals Lionsgate rotten movies we love reviews stoner a nightmare on elm street 72 Emmy Awards crime thriller TV scary E3 ITV historical drama blaxploitation dramedy 45 adenture harry potter Discovery Channel Image Comics Hollywood Foreign Press Association scene in color series boxoffice robots Epix TCA political drama Cannes TV One Marvel Television cooking dreamworks Ghostbusters new york Cosplay X-Men aapi Mary Tyler Moore cancelled TV series cars green book deadpool period drama independent Kids & Family directors debate singing competition spider-verse ratings Grammys Arrowverse The Walking Dead king kong finale japan CBS 007 Drama comic book movies Hulu cults natural history target sitcom video on demand FX Pirates streamig fast and furious Writers Guild of America APB BET Awards Polls and Games crime drama BBC America obituary TCA 2017 TNT binge PaleyFest international critic resources HFPA Universal Country concert anime richard e. Grant OWN MCU Star Wars Disney Plus Comic-Con@Home 2021 dc docuseries mcc Binge Guide fresh Paramount Pictures Anna Paquin high school BBC Lifetime Christmas movies MTV mission: impossible 1990s Film legend ESPN revenge franchise Bravo black The Purge based on movie rt labs book scorecard Amazon Prime screen actors guild Thanksgiving aliens game of thrones documentaries toy story Focus Features Countdown Song of Ice and Fire screenings remakes latino Summer chucky Logo TCA Awards ghosts jurassic park DirecTV Certified Fresh comedies A24 spanish Oscars supernatural Turner popular gangster cancelled Super Bowl Mary poppins venice vampires spain Paramount Network slasher sopranos Rocketman San Diego Comic-Con joker kids Adult Swim Election Netflix SXSW breaking bad HBO Trophy Talk Interview Calendar Comedy Walt Disney Pictures E! Television Critics Association Apple TV Plus south america Character Guide italian saw jamie lee curtis YouTube Premium comics canceled Mary Poppins Returns GIFs Captain marvel Ellie Kemper TruTV romantic comedy Valentine's Day heist movie Musical video comic Video Games Trailer wonder woman Podcast obi wan christmas movies comic books summer TV preview romance History rt labs critics edition 2020 royal family Shondaland politics TCA Winter 2020 Alien FX on Hulu comiccon Toys art house psychological thriller Wes Anderson Oscar Chernobyl WGN The Arrangement TV Land NBA Extras First Reviews Mystery spanish language Academy Awards spider-man Lifetime black comedy South by Southwest Film Festival Sneak Peek reboot GLAAD Comics on TV Mudbound Animation Emmy Nominations scene in color film series criterion First Look halloween Netflix Christmas movies Esquire Nat Geo YouTube 73rd Emmy Awards TBS Broadway casting ABC Family king arthur NBC Sci-Fi Pop Action CMT vs. young adult game show YouTube Red comic book movie marvel cinematic universe posters TV renewals Hallmark Christmas movies anthology Nickelodeon Warner Bros. See It Skip It animated Tarantino emmy awards travel Disney Channel boxing Paramount rt archives zero dark thirty know your critic trophy Amazon Studios Sundance TV social media DC streaming service unscripted 20th Century Fox Stephen King Amazon Prime Video Columbia Pictures best Mindy Kaling Hallmark Black Mirror IFC Films Turner Classic Movies NYCC Marvel Rock Set visit free movies El Rey true crime The Witch kaiju Britbox leaderboard Spectrum Originals President target scene in color 99% Year in Review Pacific Islander CBS All Access twilight American Society of Cinematographers mutant dark Best Picture Western AMC lord of the rings thriller quibi Avengers Teen VICE Best Actress facebook genre Hear Us Out documentary cancelled television Rom-Com dogs Best and Worst indiana jones Apple french The Academy scene in color The CW TLC adaptation Fall TV Tags: Comedy live action docudrama sequel Fargo Sony A&E Apple TV+ Fantasy Shudder transformers dragons olympics batman GoT IMDb TV Best Actor Chilling Adventures of Sabrina slashers superman Legendary Disney streaming service Indigenous foreign spinoff football halloween tv Holidays Premiere Dates Paramount Plus YA parents IFC festivals zombie CNN Syfy Infographic FOX Acorn TV Fox Searchlight crime 21st Century Fox Music Pixar tv talk worst movies stand-up comedy Television Academy TCM 71st Emmy Awards DC Comics cats BET Red Carpet Ovation 24 frames Awards Schedule biopic Watching Series OneApp stop motion archives 2016 CW Seed PBS interviews razzies godzilla LGBT Amazon broadcast composers Baby Yoda what to watch name the review theme song strong female leads SundanceTV hidden camera all-time LGBTQ australia 94th Oscars renewed TV shows Exclusive Video films Holiday Photos classics Superheroes Winter TV Starz Travel Channel Fox News Endgame blockbuster Awards Tour New York Comic Con superhero Universal Pictures news Masterpiece adventure Comic Book critics indie basketball hist talk show Star Trek nature sag awards movie Pride Month nfl Horror ID mob USA universal monsters BBC One new zealand Creative Arts Emmys VH1 hispanic doctor who police drama Showtime cinemax medical drama war Marvel Studios Reality suspense dexter Native 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards RT History witnail serial killer hispanic heritage month Dark Horse Comics toronto Sony Pictures Trivia Box Office cops rotten mockumentary Disney+ Disney Plus Lucasfilm Rocky monster movies sports TIFF Sundance Brie Larson 2017 MSNBC science fiction Best Director Tokyo Olympics 90s streaming Crunchyroll space TV movies Spike Pop TV RT21 live event zombies DC Universe Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt diversity The Walt Disney Company Spring TV 4/20 book adaptation AMC Plus marvel comics blockbusters PlayStation technology ABC teaser kong justice league worst movies Christmas telelvision nbcuniversal Black History Month trailers summer preview children's TV Winners dceu National Geographic festival Film Festival VOD Neflix MGM laika Marathons FXX Elton John disaster television japanese elevated horror award winner Reality Competition golden globes hollywood Food Network Emmys Instagram Live sequels Tomatazos Freeform HBO Max Comedy Central 2021 2018 Superheroe Women's History Month Nominations Star Wars Celebration crossover Classic Film DGA psycho SDCC scary movies Peacock prank werewolf women summer TV 79th Golden Globes Awards WarnerMedia pirates of the caribbean discovery Vudu spy thriller canceled TV shows golden globe awards 93rd Oscars versus Crackle streaming movies Tubi die hard Family Sundance Now miniseries 2015 2019 HBO Go child's play Prime Video Opinion ViacomCBS biography Heroines Biopics BAFTA rom-coms Tumblr Pet Sematary SXSW 2022 Quiz Funimation Cartoon Network feel good new star wars movies ABC Signature asian-american cancelled TV shows Geeked Week USA Network series satire james bond Martial Arts cartoon Disney action-comedy