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'Fahrenheit 9/11' draws handful of raves

July 03, 2004|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Michael Moore's campaign to stamp President Bush as an incompetent warmonger drew a handful of raves outside Valley Mall Friday.

It was the Washington County debut of "Fahrenheit 9/11," which became the highest-grossing documentary ever less than a week after its release.

"Every potential voter should see this before November," said Holly Waters of Martinsburg, W.Va.

"It's a very powerful and moving film," said Lenny Jones of Hagerstown. "It would be hilarious, except for the fact that it's sad because it's true."

Bush supporters have dismissed the movie as a liberal hatchet job, while the president's critics have said Moore has peeled away layers of administration missteps and misstatements.

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"What I liked about the movie is that it spoke the truth," said Elissa Adams of Cumberland, Md.

Friday's 2:15 p.m. show did not sell out, but a clerk at the theater said the evening screenings likely would be more crowded.

A small random survey of opinions after the 2:15 p.m. show might have represented those who attended, but not necessarily the public at large.

Observers have noted that staunch Republicans might not rush to see the movie or want to see it all ? although Moore has pointed to the film's early success in states that Bush won in the 2000 election.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" won't change the minds of people stubbornly for or against Bush, former Martinsburg resident David Hendrix said. But it might sway people in the middle.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" skewers the Bush administration for the war in Iraq and for its relationship with the Saudi government, topics Moore previously explored in his book "Dude, Where's My Country?"

Moore has openly wished for Bush to be voted out of office in November's election.

After seeing the movie, Kim Hendrix, David's wife, said the movie clearly is slanted.

"It shows a liberal side, but you can't refute what he presented," she said.

"Even if half of it's true, it's compelling," her husband added.

The Hendrixes, who live in Charlotte, N.C., saw the movie with their 4-month-old daughter, Sarah, and Waters, who is Kim Hendrix's mother.

This wasn't Sarah's first movie, Kim Hendrix said, but it was her first movie "of meaning."

Erica Herron of Hagerstown praised the film, too, yet expressed the only criticism among Friday's sample pool.

Moore was persuasive, she said, but it wasn't his best work. She said Moore left out "some pieces of evidence that should have been included," information worse than what was shown.

Moore won an Academy Award in the documentary category last year for "Bowling for Columbine," his critical look at gun use.

Thinking that "Fahrenheit 9/11" might not reach Washington County, Herron and her husband, John, saw it in Gaithersburg, Md.

Friday, at Valley Mall, they went again ? this time bringing along Lee Thornton, a friend visiting from New Zealand.

Thornton pronounced the movie "funny and devastating."

She said she was glad that Americans are getting a chance to see harsh footage that they normally might not see.

Adams said the movie didn't change her belief that the U.S. shouldn't be in Iraq. But she recommended the movie for every American who ever thought "something's fishy" in the federal government.

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