Variety‘s Sicko review, written by Alissa Simon. She’s calling it “an entertaining and affecting dissection of the American health care industry that documents how it benefits the few at the expense of the many. Pic’s tone alternates between comedy and outrage, as it compares the U.S system of care to other countries. Given Moore’s celebrity and fan base, plus heightened awareness of pic resulting from the heated battle between left and right already ongoing in cyberspace, returns look to be extremely healthy.”
Myself and maybe nine or ten other journalists were driven out to the Hotel du Cap at 11:45 this morning for some brief cabana sit-downs with Leonardo DiCaprio,the producer, co-writer and narrator of a down-to-it doc about global poisoning and not just global warming (which the film only focuses on for only 7 minutes) called 11th Hour (Warner Independent, October), as well as co-directors Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen.
11th Hour producer-narrator Leonardo DiCaprio at the conclusion of today’s Hotel du Cap round-table interview, which took place in an airy bungalow a stone’s throw from the rocky coast of the beautiful Mediterranean — Saturday, 5.19.07, 1:45 pm
Two 11th Hour talking heads also participated — David W. Orr, an envirornmental issues authority and a professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College, and Kenny Asubel, founder and co-executive director of Bioneers, a nonprofit outfit that focuses on solutions for restoring imperiled ecosystems.
Here‘s a recording of our group’s chat with DiCaprio and Orr.
The general consensus among the journos is that Michael Moore‘s Sicko is a more engaging and persuasive piece of agitprop than 11th Hour, which offers a very dense and thorough assessment of how we’re fucking the planet every which way, but at the same time is a little too crammed with information.
There’s no argument at all from this corner about the alarming things it says (and shows) about what amounts to a kind of mass global suicide, but it’s a movie, and the fact is that it doesn’t breathe and engage the way a piece like this should. After 20 minutes or so it makes you feel like you’re being hammered. It needs to pull back and relax and…I don’t know, throw in some jokes or something. A little more heart and soul and meditation.
11th Hour has exactly one laugh moment — a quote from Winston Churchill that says Americans “always do the right thing…unfortunately they only do the right thing after exhausting every last wrong possibility.” Or words to that effect.
DiCaprio, David Orr at the Hotel du Cap — Saturday, 5.19.07, 6:25 pm; under the umbrella trees; the Du Cap cabanas where the interviews took place; MPRM’s Jessica Kimiabakhsh leading journalists (including Variety‘s Anne Thompson) to their respective cabanas; Kenny Asubel (l.) and 11th Hour co-directors Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen.
I hate saying this about a film I respect and that I want people to absorb for the content alone, but you can’t expect well-honed information and slam-bang visuals alone to do the trick. A movie needs to generate human warmth and aroma…some kind of emotional connection that really sinks in. As it is now, 11th Hour is too dry and didactic, and it doesn’t even try to generate the amiable personality that An Inconvenient Truth had by way of the reborn Al Gore.
But it won’t open until the fall so there’s obviously time for some re-shoots and touch-ups. Leo, Nadia and Leila should consider what I’m saying here. I’m not the only one, trust me.
Here’s a recording of the first half-hour of Michael Moore‘s Sicko press conference, with moderator Andre Behar asking the first question. It started just after 11 a.m. I had to bolt at 11:30 in order to get on a press shuttle for the Hotel du Cap and a sitdown with Leonardo DiCaprio and the 11th Hour principals. I still don’t have my sound editing software up and running, so it’s a little raggedy. Behar’s introduction of Moore to the press throng comes about ten seconds in.
Sicko director Michael Moore (r.) and press conference moderator Henri Behar at this morning’s press conference — Saturday, 5.19.07, 11:12 am
The big Cannes buzz right now is around the untitled (and apparently still uncompleted) Larry Charles/Bill Maher documentary about religion, which is being repped by CAA and IM Global. Charles himself attended a market screening yesterday to unveil footage, I’m told. I wasn’t there but a trusted friend was, and he says that “what the buyers saw had everyone laughing hard” and that once out and about, the doc will definitely register as “controversial.”
Mr. Friendly is predicting “a bidding war and an announcement within a couple of days.”
Variety‘s Adam Dawtrey reported about the doc last February during the Berlin Film Festival. “In the aftermath ofBorat,” he wrote, “one of the most intriguing projects to surface at Berlin’s EFM is the untitled Larry Charles doc being touted by First Look Int’l. It features Maher in a satirical investigation of the major global religions and sounds calculated to invite letter bombs from fanatics of every creed.
“Charles and Maher have already been shooting for some time below-the-radar in the Mideast and London,” Dawtrey went on, “but footage is being kept tightly under wraps. Pic is being hyped as Borat meets Fahrenheit 9/11, but the only materials that buyers are allowed to see is a single sheet written by Charles, which isn’t permitted to leave the First Look office.
“‘Is religion an obsessive-compulsive disorder?’ asks Charles, who bills his movie as ‘Bill Maher vs. the Anti-Christ (or is Bill Maher the Anti-Christ?)”
Everyone has just come out of the 8:30 a.m. screening of Michael Moore‘s Sicko — I’m typing this from the Salle du Presse where Moore will be answering questions ten minutes from now — and I have to say that I went into it with limited expectations, but I came out teary-eyed. Surprisingly, I found this documentary about the evils and shortcomings of the U.S. health-care system just as moving as Fahrenheit 9/11 — and I never would have predicted this.
Honestly…I found myself melting during the last 20 minutes or so, particularly during the scenes shot in Havana, Cuba, where Moore takes a small group of 9/11 workers to receive affordable — i.e., extremely cheap — health care for their 9/11-related ailments that they either couldn’t afford in the U.S., or weren’t getting sufficient treatment for in this great country of ours.
The press conference is about to begin so I can’t write any more about this until later in the afternoon, but I can at least say this: Sicko didn’t tell me anything radically new about what an absurd health-care system we have, but it spelled out very clearly and, it seemed to me, honestly how much better the health-care systems are in Canada, England and France.
Plus it made me feel the hurt and the sadness that the U.S. system causes aver- age citizens, and I can honestly say that it made me feel this emotion more acute- ly than at any other time in my life. It’s not just an eye-opener, in short, but a movie that opens your emotional pores.