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Bowling for Columbine

You can't say Michael Moore didn't warn them. A month prior to the Oscars at HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Moore pleaded, "For god's sake, don't vote for this film. Don't put me on the stage on the Oscar show on live TV. I think that's a big mistake." But deep down in places they didn't talk about at their pre-Oscar parties, Hollywood wanted Moore on that stage, they needed him on that stage. That said, what happened under the lights of the Kodak Theater last March in front of millions of television viewers when Michael Moore was handed his Best Documentary statuette for Bowling for Columbine is still being disputed. The answer, of course, is that we'll never know, just as we'll never really know what final, fatal fit of pique was responsible for setting off the hair-trigger of anger and resentment that sent Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold into Columbine High School to seek their bloody vengeance, leaving 12 students (14, if one counts Harris and Klebold, who took their own lives) and one teacher dead. But Moore's got some ideas, and, as has always been the case with the humorist/essayist/documentarian (that's placed last for a very good reason), he explores these notions in a highly entertaining, discursive, and inflammatory style that often dials up the level of outrage at the expense of the truth. Delving into this knotty issue, Moore seizes on two explanations, the first of which is that the town is helplessly corrupted by a foundation of violence because its number one private employer is Lockheed Martin, the world's largest maker of weapons. But he finds better traction with the second part of his thesis, that this violence is the outgrowth of a culture of fear exacerbated by a ratings hungry news media and the Bush administration, which believes that their grasp on the White House can be maintained by positioning themselves as strong on defense. What Moore can't do, however, is tie these phenomena back into the Columbine issue. His fall-back, then, is to address the alarming disparity between gun deaths in the United States and individual countries in the rest of the world as an indicator that we're just simply a more violent people; a flawed hypothesis on its face once one realizes Moore has no plans to address the overwhelmingly obvious fact that these countries have much smaller populations. But for all of Michael Moore's failings as a documentarian, Bowling for Columbine is, warts and all, an undeniably entertaining American travelogue with an admittedly biased tour guide. Just don't sign up for this trip looking for the truth. MGM presents Bowling for Columbine in a fine anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with decent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include an audio introduction from Moore, a lame commentary track featuring interns and production assistants, Moore on his Oscar win and acceptance speech, a "Return to Littleton" featurette (filmed six months after the release of Bowling for Columbine, a film festival scrapbook, Marilyn Manson's "Fight Song" music video, a teacher's guide, an interview by Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, a satirical segment from "The Awful Truth II: Corporate Cops," Moore on "The Charlie Rose Show," an "action guide," staff and crew photo gallery. Theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks

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