In fact, some of the harshest criticism is directed at Democrats for being too eager to compromise — starting with Bill Clinton’s triangulation approach during his administration — and the media. Moore trots out a long list of media figures (Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly) professionally undone by sexual-harassment allegations, showing them covering Hillary Clinton’s campaign. (Former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves is also quoted exulting in the high ratings Trump’s campaign generated — before his forced departure under similar circumstances.)
Moore offers plenty of intriguing contentions, including how Trump essentially stumbled into running for president and his long history of manipulating the media, providing damning video evidence of the latter.
The film’s frequent detours, however — including a good deal of time devoted to the water crisis in Flint — are so detailed that they at times risk losing contact with the larger thread.
If “Fahrenheit 11/9” finds the slightest ray of hope in what is, by any measure, an extremely bleak vision of America and its future, it’s in grass-roots activism — specifically, by featuring the teenagers from Parkland, with their crusade against the gun lobby; teacher strikes, highlighting one in West Virginia; and a rising tide of new Democratic politicians like New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ever a provocateur, Moore reaches into his entire bag of filmmaking tricks, injecting himself into the narrative in various ways. Those range from an attempt to confront Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to recounting past encounters with Trump (including a joint appearance on Roseanne Barr’s short-lived talk show) and members of his inner circle.
There is, quite simply, a lot — perhaps too much — to digest here, but of course, that’s part of the plan. Seeing no virtue in half-measures, Moore seeks to overwhelm the viewer with material that ultimately points in the same unsettling direction, including a discussion of Adolf Hitler’s rise and how democracy can give way to despotism.
For those who share his views, the director has done all he can to arouse their passion. In that regard, “Fahrenheit 11/9” turns up the temperature to a full boil — a rallying cry intended to match what Moore perceives as the threat level to democracy.
“Fahrenheit 11/9” premieres Sept. 21 in the U.S.