News and Information

Moore rebuttal film irks reviewers
October 22, 2004
Billed as the Republican reply to Michael Moore's President Bush-bashing film Fahrenheit 9/11, the documentary Celsius 41.11 has just been released in the US.

The name of the film, directed by Kevin Knoblock, refers to the temperature at which the brain begins to die.

It does not pretend to offer a balanced political picture, and in fact was financially backed by conservative research organisation Citizens United.

And Celsius 41.11 is already proving as contentious for US newspaper reviewers as Fahrenheit 9/11, coming at such a politically sensitive time with just weeks to go until the US elections.

Many newspapers, while not disagreeing with the facts of the documentary, have not been impressed with it as a piece of entertainment.

Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post called it a "dull" and "overlong attack ad on John Kerry".

He was particularly nonplussed by the "soporific" series of interviews with American political pundits.

"Guys in chairs opining is neither good filmmaking nor effective argument," wrote Kennicott.

Desson Thomson, writing for the Detroit News, found both positives and negatives for the film.


"Just like Moore's film, the spleen factor could poison small children, and the film...obviously preaches to its own. But there are some very thought-provoking points, and the movie deserves a balanced listening to," he wrote.

Jeffrey Bruner of the Des Moines Register said: "As a piece of advocacy filmmaking, it lacks subtlety, much entertainment value or effectiveness - Republicans will leave happy, but it's unlikely to change anyone else's opinion.

Celsius 41.11
Celsius 41.11 supports Bush's stance on the Iraq war
He added: "For the $900,000 reportedly spent on this film, it's a pretty low-quality production that's not going to transfer well to a big screen. But as after-dinner viewing in your living room, it should work fine."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's review, written by Duane Dudek, thought the film-makers had trodden a similar partisan path to Michael Moore.

"As with Fahrenheit 9/11, it's impossible to separate the facts and analysis presented in Celsius from the intent of the filmmakers.

"Those who accused Moore of being partisan, reckless, sensationalist and extreme will be less sceptical of Celsius 41.11 for being the same, because they agree with it. "

'Too many topics'

Tom Keogh, writing in the Seattle Times, had hoped for a more forceful reply to Moore's documentary.

"Some arguments are lightly persuasive, but there is nothing new here or usefully even-handed.

"It's not that Moore's film doesn't deserve an argument. But it does deserve a more thoughtful one. "

And the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Crust viewed it as another political advertising campaign that added little to the debate.

"Like Moore's film, Celsius hits too many topics with too broad a brush, resulting in yet another contribution to this campaign season's spin cycle of rhetoric."


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