Documentarian Michael Moore shoots from the lip
Documentarian Michael Moore shoots from the lip. With ''Bowling for Columbine,'' the director gets America's culture of gun violence in his sights
It’s been 13 years since ”Roger & Me” and, if it’s possible, Flint, Mich., looks worse. Driving through his hometown, Michael Moore — best-selling author, world-famous documentarian, rabble-rousing TV personality — leads a nickel-and-dime tour: the rubble of a mile-wide Buick factory; the church where he was married; a bustling soup kitchen; the tallest office tower in town, vacant but for the little-used social club on the 19th floor. ”I watched John F. Kennedy march in a parade from that corner,” he says, whizzing his Chrysler minivan past two burned-out lots. ”Labor Day. A long time ago.”
For a man whose very hot documentary ”Bowling for Columbine” is now rolling out, Michael Moore looks positively beaten. His eyes are tired and his nose almost seems to droop. His mother passed away in July, and the 48-year-old director, who makes his home with his wife, producer Kathleen Glynn, in Manhattan, is ostensibly back in Flint to take care of his heartsick father. But really, he says, ”my father’s been taking care of me.” He stops to fork over two bucks for parking, and the eyes of the woman behind the counter twinkle with recognition. ”Are you…Roger?” she asks. Moore smiles and sighs. ”No. Michael. Roger was the bad guy.”
Identifying the good guys and bad guys: nothing new there for the leftist firebrand, who sat down with EW on a cool September day to chat about his obsession with our neighbors to the north, the man who would be Moses, and his new movie about gun violence and America.
EW Why make a movie about guns?
MOORE I started to make the movie after Columbine. But I realized that what I was doing was really about something other than gun violence when I learned that Canada has 7 million guns but they don’t kill each other like we do. I thought, gosh, that’s uncomfortably close to the NRA [National Rifle Association] position: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It really started to bother me. Why us? We’re no better or worse than them. We’re good people. So I started to go down that road. This is not a film about guns, this is a film about the American condition.
EW First you made ”Canadian Bacon” [the John Candy comedy about a U.S. invasion of Canada]. Now you’re up there walking into their houses uninvited and pestering them about their guns. C’mon, what’s with the Canada obsession?
MOORE [Laughs] Look, I really think that we should aspire to be more Canadian. If we did, we’d be living in a safer, saner country. And you gotta admire any group of people who’d put a leaf on their flag.
Bowling For Columbine