Billing it as his own “October surprise,” the provocative filmmaker Michael Moore is looking to influence another presidential campaign on the silver screen.
Moore, the award-winning documentarian whose films such as “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” have inspired liberals and enraged conservatives, unveiled his latest effort this week: “Michael Moore in TrumpLand,” a one-man stage performance starring the director about the 2016 election.
It was filmed over the course of two nights earlier this month in Wilmington, Ohio, after Moore’s original plans for a live show elsewhere in the state were scrapped.
Moore said on Facebook last month that the community board overseeing the Midland Theater in Newark, Ohio, opted against allowing him to perform there over concerns that he was trying to sway the election.
That’s not in dispute. “TrumpLand” is an unabashed effort to get Hillary Clinton elected, and to thwart Donald Trump — just as Moore’s 2004 film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” was a bid to defeat George W. Bush.
Moore held a free sneak preview for his latest film at the IFC Center in New York, where the film began being shown Wedneday. Despite the hurried premiere, the film was not entirely unexpected. Moore had been teasing it for days on Twitter.
“Yes, some rumors may be true,” Moore tweeted over the weekend. “I ‘might’ be putting the finishing touches on an ‘October Surprise’ for this election. Then again…”
The unconventional release is fitting for what appears to be an unconventional movie for Moore. In a review for The New York Times on Wednesday, the critic Neil Genzlinger wrote that, in “TrumpLand,” Moore “seems to be decidedly uninterested in provoking anyone with this new offering.”
Genzlinger described the performance shown in the film as a “stand-up comedy routine” that at times “sounds like a commencement address.”
The film, Genzlinger wrote, “is not an attack on Mr. Trump, but instead a paean to his opponent in the presidential contest, Hillary Clinton.”
Moore has spoken out against Trump’s candidacy throughout the campaign, but the Oscar-winning filmmaker hasn’t exactly been a diehard Clinton supporter over the years. In 2008, Moore said he was “morally prohibited” from voting for Clinton due to her past support for the Iraq War. He endorsed Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary earlier this year.
But Moore said in May that he would “absolutely” back Clinton if she were the nominee. And during last month’s first presidential debate, Moore made a plea to Sanders supporters.
“Fellow Bernie voters — admit it, there’s nothing she’s said we disagree with,” Moore tweeted. “In fact, she’s adopted his positions!”
By Tom Kludt