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In sickness and in health

The Sicko director takes his own pulse
By PETER KEOUGH  |  June 27, 2007

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VIDEO: Watch Peter Keough's interview with Michael Moore

Peter Keough's compete interview with Michael Moore

Moore of the same: Sicko diagnoses American health care. By Peter Keough

About 500 excited fans are waiting for him beyond the curtain at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a discussion of his Sicko, which is also selling out every screening in New York where it just opened. But Michael Moore seems a little down on himself. Just mentioning the word “controversial” ticks him off.

“I don’t accept it,” he declares. “I don’t quite understand what the controversy is about. What have I done? I’ve kind of thought about this a long time. The things I’ve made films about — a dying auto town, school shootings — what’s the controversy?”

Not only does Moore feel persecuted, he also seems to be having doubts about whether anything he does makes a difference. Despite stirring up people with films like Roger & Me (1989), Bowling for Columbine (2002), and Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), the problems those films confronted remain the same. Isn’t he starting to feel as if he were banging his head against a wall?

“Yes. And I often think, and maybe this is just my Catholic upbringing, but I often feel like a failure. I spend all this time trying to get people to pay attention and maybe do something. I take it out a lot on myself and say, ‘Maybe you’re not doing it the right way. Maybe you’re not reaching enough people and maybe you need to think about doing it differently.’ I started with Roger & Me because I was hoping to do something to save my home town. That didn’t happen. It’s in worse shape than ever. School shootings continue. We’re in the fifth year of this war. You could make a case that Michael Moore is fairly ineffectual in terms of using his art to affect change. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Maybe I’m taking the short view of this. Maybe in the long run it will have a cumulative effect.”

Maybe he’ll have better luck with Sicko, since just about everyone agrees with the film’s premise that health care needs a total overhaul. On the other hand, though Moore is on stage here in New Hampshire, where it’s almost impossible to drive a block without running over a presidential candidate, none of them has shown up for his event, and the only campaign workers in evidence are a couple of eager beavers for Dennis Kucinich. Will Sicko affect the 2008 election? Or, as Moore laments about his other films, will it not make much of an impact after all? And could it be that none of the current presidential candidates would make a difference anyway?

“I’ve not endorsed a candidate and have no intention to do so any time in the near future,” says Moore. “I want to see what they have to say and what their plans are. There’s one candidate that I wish would get into the race because I think he’d be good for the discussion.

Don’t say Ralph Nader . . .

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  Topics: Features , Elections and Voting, Politics, U.S. Politics,  More more >
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