Ever a polarizing figure, documentarian Michael Moore breeds partisanship with every new feature. To his detractors, he’s a bloviating windbag intent on placing the spotlight on himself, only touching upon hot-button issues insofar as they relate to his dogged pursuit of celebrity. To those who swear by his films, Moore is a valiant defender of truth and America’s moral compass, taking the corrupt to task and making a stand on behalf of the voiceless. Both of these camps are sort of right; recent efforts such as Sicko have been subsumed by Moore’s self-fashioned cult of personality, obscuring the political underpinnings in the process. But then, the man’s earlier projects infused some much-needed truth into the public discourse, with Bowling for Columbine effectively redirecting the gun control debate, an issue that’s since been fully and satisfactorily resolved.
Moore’s newest film, Where to Invade Next, drew expectedly mixed reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, but a new trailer will enable viewers to levy judgement for themselves. The freshly released clip doesn’t exactly clarify Moore’s critical aims with this documentary; judging from the trailer alone, it appears to be about everything from school-lunch reform to American imperialism to student debt. Moore is certainly at his Mooreiest here, pushing buttons everywhere he goes. Weirdly enough, certain bits are oddly reminiscent of Borat, in particular the moment where Moore plants the American flag in what appears to be a host family’s home. Are these people aware that Moore’s playing some sort of broadly satirical game with them? If not, then the intended butt of Moore’s gleefully improper joke may be unclear. Watching the trailer, we can only hope that it won’t be on the viewers who pay for a ticket to see this thing.