Marilyn Manson, Bowling For Columbine

The film stopped and the murmurs began. Then the clapping. Then the furious shouts as people got to their feet, hooting for the dumpy guy in the tux who looked like he wanted nothing more than the comfort of his trademark jeans and battered baseball cap. Michael Moore was back.

It was a triumphant Cannes Film Festival for the documentarian, author, and raconteur — the mirror image of the last time he showed up on the Croisette with a film, the regrettable John Candy comedy ”Canadian Bacon.” ”It says no documentaries on the [Cannes] submission form,” marvels Moore. ”But I guess the French like me. I found out that they show Roger & Me [about the decaying Flint, Mich.] in schools here…. It’s like Economics 101.”

Not only was ”Bowling for Columbine” — which dissects America’s obsession with handguns — the first documentary accepted into competition in 46 years, but it was bought for nearly $3 million by United Artists and awarded an invented-for-the-occasion 55th anniversary prize. That doesn’t mean it was easy to make — among other squirm-inducing bits are a ”gotcha” interview with National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston and footage of 1999’s Columbine High School massacre. ”I didn’t even pitch to Americans,” says Moore, who went to Canadian company Alliance Atlantis for financing. ”I was going around telling people, ‘I’m going to make a film partly set in a dying auto town and it has Columbine in the title.’ What do you think was going to happen?”

THE LOWDOWN A man who knows a thing or two about strikes, Michael Moore, coming off the best-seller ”Stupid White Men,” seems primed to ”Bowl” his first one in a while.

Bowling For Columbine
  • Movie
  • 125 minutes