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Michael Moore [00:01:27] Hello, I’m Michael Moore, and this is Rumble. Welcome, everyone, this is Oscar weekend and if you got my birthday message yesterday on Facebook or Instagram, then you also know that yesterday was my birthday. And it was the date that 125 years ago this weekend, the very first motion picture was shown in the United States by Thomas Edison. He rented out a dance hall on West 34th Street in New York City, put up his invention, his projector, and showed moving pictures for the very first time in this country, just a few months after the Lumiere brothers had done so in Paris. Of course, Thomas Edison’s idea was to use this art form as a way to tell stories, that was not the intention of the Lumiere brothers. That’s why they didn’t really continue on for very long with what they were doing. But we have to tip our hat to the French for participating and giving us this incredible art form that some of us spend a good time of our lives working in. 

Michael Moore [00:02:48] So anyway, this was one hundred and twenty five years ago this weekend in New York City. I went down there and there’s a little plaque. And if I don’t post it here, I’ll post it on my Instagram and on Facebook. Also went over to Strawberry Fields and sat there for a while listening to people with their guitars playing John Lennon songs. But I want to get to the movies and the Oscars here this weekend and the ones that have been nominated. I’ve seen virtually all of these nominees. I’d like to give you my opinion and encourage you to see some of them, because let me just start with saying this, I know this has not been a good year for the movie industry. Obviously, the theaters have all been closed, and the two theaters that I help run in Michigan have been closed since March 10th of last year. 

Michael Moore [00:03:49] So it’s not been good, and most of us have not been able to work in this business because of COVID protocols. It’s been too dangerous now. Now, some work has started. Protocols have been established to protect crew and actors and directors. And so maybe by the end of this year, we’ll start to see some new movies. Certainly on the streaming services. But depending on whether people get vaccinated and whether they keep wearing their masks, we can get the theaters reopen. If not, then they will stay closed. And if they’re not closed, if the governors of your state, any of your states, have reopened them, I’d stay out of them. I haven’t gone into one and I won’t go into one until we are closer to reaching or have reached what they call herd immunity. And that means about 80 to 85 percent of us have got to get vaccinated. You know, teenagers need to be vaccinated and they need to without their parents permission. 

Michael Moore [00:05:12] That’s if we’re really serious about wanting to get back to what people call the old normal. I’m hoping we don’t go back to the old normal. We’ll have a new normal. OK, sorry, I say this nearly every other episode about vaccinations, wearing masks. We’re so close to my friends. Why not just get over the finish line here? Anyways, today’s podcast is not about that. I want to talk to you about the movies. It’s what I do. It’s what I love. I always love going to the movies. Geez, when I was younger sometimes I would go almost five days of the week if it was a big multiplex and there were five different films. I didn’t care how good the film was. I’ve been that way for a long time. I just love going. I even like watching lousy movies. Either they’re so lousy that they’re funny or they’re lousy in a good way where I learn something like, you know, I make a little note in my head, Mike, don’t ever do that. So see how helpful it is. So sometimes the bad stuff isn’t so bad. 

Michael Moore [00:07:14] But I just wanted to say, though, that in spite of how it’s not been good for the movies in the last year and how I’m certain many of you have not seen a lot of these films that have nominations this weekend, I got to tell you there were a lot of great movies this year. And if you haven’t seen them, I want to encourage you to find a way to see them. I understand that each one of these platforms charges a subscription. It’s very hard to do this unless you’ve got some serious disposable income. That’s why I hope, you know, the movie theaters can reopen because you should be able to see all of these in a movie theater. The way they were intended to be seen. But before we get into those that were nominated, I just want to give a shout out to just a few films that I did see in the first quarter of last year before they closed the theaters, before I closed my theaters. 

Michael Moore [00:08:10] So some of these I brought to my theaters in Traverse City, Michigan, and they’re so good and I don’t want them to get lost because, you know in the the year of what are we calling it, what will history call this year or two that we’re in. Not World War Z, not The Walking Dead. I don’t know. They’ll come up with something. If not, I’ll come up with it. We’ll have a contest. We will all come up with a name for this awful two years that we’re in here, going on three maybe, folks. No, let’s not do that. It’s up to you. It’s up to all of us. So anyways, I just want to give a shout out to some of these films that got overlooked by the Oscars. One film is called Never Rarely, Sometimes Always. You know, sometimes when you’re filling out a questionnaire, they’ve got the four boxes, like, Do you do this or that or whatever? Never, rarely, sometimes always. So that’s the title of the film. And people still are afraid to do stories about abortion. And this is about a teenage girl, I think she’s 17 years old. Her and her cousin live in Pennsylvania, somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. 

Michael Moore [00:09:30] One of them becomes pregnant and they decide to take the bus into New York City to get an abortion without their parents knowing about it. Because again, it’s none of their parents’ business. If you’re 17 years old and you want to terminate a pregnancy, that should be your legal right to do that. Anyways, OK, I’m sorry for the preaching. This is such a good movie. With these two young actresses and the story it tells of 48 hours on a trip to the Big Apple. It’s again, it’s one of these movies, you’ve just never seen this movie before, and it’s very powerful. And I really, really was so glad to have seen this film. “Never Rarely, Sometimes Always.” Then there’s a comedy, Maybe you’ve seen this one: “Palm Springs.” This is so hilarious. It’s sort of a Groundhog Day idea of you’re at a wedding reception, you meet somebody at the wedding reception and imagine the rest of your life is reliving that one wedding reception over and over and over again. So it’s with Andy Samberg. It’s really funny and just a really smart comedy if you get a chance to see it. Another film is called “First Cow” and by the director I really like Kelly Reichardt, and she has again made another very, she makes these kind of quiet films. 

Michael Moore [00:11:01] And it’s set back, it looks like it’s in the early days of Northern California. And, you know, white men have arrived to set up camps. Maybe do some mining to try to find gold, whatever. But none of the basics are there in this camp because it’s the first time white people are kind of hanging out there. So somebody sends downriver for a cow to be sent out from, I don’t know, the San Francisco area or whatever. And the cow arrives on a barge. And so the story revolves around this guy who was like a chef back east in his younger days, and he was a pastry chef, I think. And he needs milk to make these pastries for the camp. And the only place where there’s any milk is this cow. So they start stealing the milk from the cow. It’s a really good movie. It’s called “First Cow.” 

Michael Moore [00:11:59] If you get a chance to see it, there’s a remake of “The Invisible Man.” There’ve been two or three versions of this starting back in the 50s. This one is with Elisabeth Moss from, you know, Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men. Really good, really smart science fiction. Not just a, you know, scary horror film. Came out at the beginning of last year and again didn’t get any notice because the pandemic hit. The Invisible Man from 2020. Then there’s a film called The Assistant, which essentially is a fictional version of if you were a woman and you worked in Harvey Weinstein’s office. Essentially, I’ve told you the whole movie right there. But it’s so well done and so understated. The filmmaker doesn’t come in with a hatchet and a hammer and a baseball bat, but very deftly, and very nuanced. 

Michael Moore [00:13:12] And then finally, just another kind of goofy, crazy comedy. But I loved it. It’s just Will Ferrell at his best. It’s called “Eurovision Song Contest.” It’s actually a much longer title. And he and his singing partner signed up for this Europe and even other parts of the world now have their own regional song cuts like an American Idol kind of thing. Not really, though. So they are representing Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest, and it’s Will Ferrell. And it’s funny and I loved it. And it actually has one Oscar nomination this weekend for Best Song. It’s the song that he and his partner sing in the movie, and it’s hilarious. And I encourage you if you want a good laugh, go with that or Palm Springs. For good smart laughs. 

Michael Moore [00:14:16] OK, so now let’s let’s get into some of the nominated films, and these are in no particular order, and I’m not going to tell you which ones I voted for as an academy member. And these are just a random bunch of films that I really enjoyed and I felt were every bit as good as any of the other years where you have a handful of great movies. And this past year we had a handful of great movies and I don’t want you to miss these because I think you’ll like them. I’m pulling for the idea that we need to sit once again someday, together again. Two hundred of us strangers in the same room in the dark. And to laugh our ass off or cry our eyes out or get angry at the human condition, whatever it is a movie does for you or what. You quietly sit there. I want those days back. 

Michael Moore [00:15:24] We will have them back. I’m not opposed to the living room or the TV set. I really am opposed to you watching a movie on an iPhone, please don’t do that. Just speaking as a filmmaker, I thank you. All right, so let me just go through. These are just I won’t take long hearing “Mank.” This, my friends, is a brilliant film. It’s set in the glory days of Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, and it tells the story of the screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, “Mank,” the man who wrote “Citizen Kane” for Orson Welles. This movie is directed by David Fincher. His father wrote the script many, many years ago. His father passed on. He decided to make his dad’s movie. It’s in black and white and maybe the most, along with “Nomad” and a few others, some of the most beautifully filmed movies of the year and the performance by the actors, especially Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies, a real life actress back in the day and in “Citizen Kane,” her fictional character. Very intelligent, caring and curious adult. Remember those people, adults that were open to seeing the world a slightly different way? 

Michael Moore [00:16:59] Her performance was so unexpected, and I have to tell you, I have not been able to watch “Citizen Kane,” and I remember if you heard my podcast a week or two ago when I was talking to Eric Roth, the producer of “Mank,” I tried to watch “Citizen Kane” on Turner Classic Movies a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t watch it. I couldn’t watch it because once this version of  the film got made and was presented in “Mank,” which is a fictional film but is using fiction to tell some greater truths. It became almost impossible. I had to turn “Citizen Kane” off. This film is considered by most people, maybe the greatest film of all time. But what this film does, what “Mank” does and what a lot of movies that are nominated this year are forcing us to look backward, but with 2021 eyes. Look back to the past. How did we get here in so many ways, whether it’s about gender, race or our whole situation in this country? And I’ll tell you it, my friends, it is hard to accept what we have watched all of our lives in the movies or on TV. What wealthy white men have wanted us to accept. 

Michael Moore [00:18:30] And in this case, in “Mank,” this movie is saying that maybe we’ve been told the wrong thing. Maybe the way women have been treated in films for 100 years has been the wrong thing. And what “Mank” is asking us, is challenging us to do, is to say, in the case of “Citizen Kane,” you know, are you going to accept this any longer that one of the great comedic actresses of the 30s and 40s, Marion Davies was in fact, just a stupid, no talent blond, as she’s portrayed, her fictional character, is portrayed in the Orson Welles film. And my friends, when you stop and think about that, then you have to think about how Native Americans have been treated in the films and of course, African-Americans and oh man, just go down the list. So many, so many revolting stereotypes shoved down our throats. But when you look at the list of this year’s films and when you watch these films, you start to have this inkling, Whoah, could this be the end of the bullshit? Are we in a transformational moment artistically in this case with the movies, where we are going to tell the greater truths with truth? 

Michael Moore [00:20:06] And these truths are going to be told not by just a bunch of white guys sitting in a room, coming up with stories that they want to see. Is it getting better? Is this year’s group of movies actually better than last year’s? I think so. I hope so. I hope this is a change and this movie, especially when you think about Citizen Kane. This movie is a huge and welcomed disruptor. “Mank,” see this movie. Next up on my list here is Promising Young Woman. All right. So I guess now we’re going to just continue this theme I’ve started on here of looking at a certain gender or a… This movie, Promising Young Woman, is a wrenching and brutally honest, dark satire of how men, you know, the good guys, men of culture, men with good manners, men with education, and how they still get to assault women at random and get away with it. This film is asking us: what is your culpability in this, that men are still allowed to get away with this behavior? I had to tell you I was floored by this movie and I put off seeing it because I don’t know, somebody just said, Oh, it’s a movie about rape. And it’s like, Oh, I mean, you know, you hear that and some people cannot watch movies that show..Other people don’t want to see animals being hurt, even though you’re told at the end of the movie the Humane Society was on the set, no animals were harmed. 

Michael Moore [00:22:22] We all have these lines where it’s just like, I don’t want to see this. And I don’t want to see it during this pandemic, I’m sad enough already. I don’t need this. So I stayed away from this movie for a little while. And then one I watched it and I thought, Wow, I did this. I’ve done this so many times before in previous films where I saw the trailer, I thought if I had known, I can’t take this, I can’t take the world being such a cruel place. I already know the cruelty of this and how much I hate it. And yet I turned it on and it was a work of art. Brilliant, brilliantly written. Carey Mulligan playing the lead character. I’m telling you, everybody, listen to this, please watch this movie, I mean, it had me on edge for two hours, but on edge in a good way. Not knowing what would happen next. It’s like Carey Mulligan plays this one woman. Justice League. And she’s incredible. And she isn’t always doing or going to do what you think she’s going to do. 

Michael Moore [00:23:47] And her actions are actually filled with heart and substance and brains and sort of, wow, this is really so well thought out. This is really something you don’t want to miss. And what’s so wonderful about this character is that as much as she is seeking justice? and revenge on men who have hurt women, she gives them more of a chance to be a human being than they would ever think to give those to whom they victimized. So again, whatever you’ve heard about the subject matter of the film, just put this movie to the top of your list. Promising Young Woman. 

Michael Moore [00:24:49] Next up, the “Trial Of The Chicago Seven.” OK, you probably already know how I feel about this movie. I had Aaron Sorkin on the podcast a few weeks ago. I’m a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin. If they do bring back his version of To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway, or if it ever comes to your town, please go see it. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. And of course, you know, the trial of the Chicago seven is set during the Vietnam War era-Chicago Democratic Convention 1968. The police decided to have a riot and just start injuring citizens who were peacefully protesting. I mean, it is rare that the history of the 60s is told in a movie with such honesty and pain and humor. No cardboard cutout characters here. Of course not, it’s Aaron Sorkin, these are going to be complicated, complex characters. There’s a diversity of beliefs. They are all men. But the one black man, the character of Bobby Seale, it’s so brilliant to see this. And then this is why all of a sudden there’s at some point very early on in the film, you’re not thinking this is the 60s. It’s like you’re watching something that is really urgent and relevant now. Don’t miss this film. The road that we are all on right now in 2021 has not met its destination. But what the hope that this film holds out for is what happens if you do get involved and you do make your voice heard. It’s very powerful. 

Michael Moore [00:26:53] Sacha Baron Cohen, who, of course, as Borat plays a very comic, serious role in this film. He plays Abbie Hoffman. He’s nominated for the Oscars this weekend for Best Supporting Actor. And of course, Aaron Sorkin is nominated for writing the film. This is one of these rare films that gets politics right. So please see this film, you won’t be disappointed. And sticking with the theme of political films set in Chicago in the 60s, another film that’s up for Best Picture is “Judas and the Black Messiah.” And again, you have an intense searing political film, this time about Fred Hampton, who was the head of the Black Panthers in Chicago, the chair of the Black Panthers, and we have the director and Fred Hampton’s son on this podcast a month or so ago talking about it. And it’s a great title, great film, “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Now, for those of you listening, I should give you a trigger alert here. Just so you’re not, you know, put in shock when you watch this movie and here is the alert. It suggests that the police and the FBI deliberately murder people. There, I’ve said it. Take a breath if you need. Oh, and sometimes they murder people for political reasons, which would be called an assassination. 

Michael Moore [00:28:49] The other person killed with Fred Hampton on that night he was assassinated was Mark Clark. I first knew of this or heard of this story because of Mark Clark’s family living in Flint, Michigan. He, too, was assassinated by the Chicago police and the FBI. But aside from all of that, and I hate to say, aside from all of that, aside from all of that assassination by the cops that we, our tax dollars go to pay, this movie as a work of art is a masterpiece and you do not want to miss it. “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Michael Moore [00:29:28] Next film up for Best Picture here is “Minari.” It’s about an immigrant family from Korea who decides to come to America and after working in California for a number of years, decides to move to the real America – Iowa. Right there, do I need to say more? This is a beautiful film. It is sweet. It is funny. It is heartbreaking. And it reminds us that it is not easy to be a stranger in this strange land that we live in. And most of our great grandparents, I’m talking out to you, white people, not to the descendants of slaves or the first peoples that were here, but mostly everybody else, your grandparents, lived some version of this story you see here in “Minari.” Of the five films that are nominated, this is one of them. This is one of the three directed by women. If you’re not shocked by that, I will say, as an academy member and former board member, I will tell you just so you have the context. I’m pretty certain I did not look for something for the podcast. I think the total number of women nominated for best director in the past 92 years of the Oscars, the total number is five. Five before this year. That’s what’s happening, folks. And it should happen, and it is long overdue. 

Michael Moore [00:31:25] Next up is “Nomadland.” This film is also a work of art, I mean, like real art. If we were sitting in a theater, we’d be looking at moving art. There’s nothing like this film. A film like this signals the sea change that we are now in. A sea that is hopefully drowning most of the misogyny that we’ve had to put up with, certainly in the movies. “Nomadland” is beautifully photographed. It stars the great Frances McDormand. Boy, this is a film for it’s like a meditative feast. You sit and you watch this film. And it takes your mind to places it needs to go. It’s just incredible. “Nomadland.”

Michael Moore [00:32:35] The last film that I saw here at the beginning of the week just before it was time to vote for the Oscars was “The Father.” I again, I had avoided this film because of the trailer, it looked like just another Alzheimer’s movie, and I’m like, Okay, I get it, I can’t take this. And, you know, both of my parents are gone now, everybody that knows, as you have to take care of your parents in the final years of their lives, if you haven’t gotten that memo, by the way, if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you don’t need to worry about it right now, but I’m just saying this movie is such a beautiful movie. 

Michael Moore [00:33:19] Don’t avoid this film. It does not seek to jerk your tears. It asks you simply to look into a future that may be yours. Yours personally or yours because of your parents, and it asks you not to fear it, but just to think about it. Each of us has parents. Some have left us. Others are still with us. Anthony Hopkins plays the father, Olivia Colman plays his daughter, and I’m telling you. man, acting doesn’t get better than this. I can see why it was nominated for Best Picture. In the old days, this was the film that would win Best Picture, but I’m not doing predictions on this podcast, I’m just saying that if you have a chance to see this film, please do. 

Michael Moore [00:34:19] A couple of others. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Whoah, man. Blistering. Brilliant. Viola Davis is amazing. So is the late Chadwick Boseman. And, of course, this is written by August Wilson, one of our greatest ever playwrights in this country. You have to see it just for that. Great writing, great characters, great American stories. And this is one of them. It will knock your socks off. Don’t miss this film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”. 

[00:34:54] And then, of course, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” there’s a much longer title, you know. The Traverse City film festival that I helped to found held the unofficial North American premiere of the original “Borat” film in 2006. So we have a special connection to “Borat,” directed by Larry Charles, who’s been on our board of directors of our film festival there in Michigan for many, many years. The sequel to this first Borat, it just continues outrageously, it’s a kind of perfect film for our time right now. I’m hoping most of you have seen this by now, but if you haven’t, give it a watch before the Oscars here. It’s nominated for two for Best Supporting Actress and for and for writing – for Sasha’s writing. Again, I’m always pushing for any film that gives us a chance to laugh during the time we’re in. 

Michael Moore [00:38:22] Just a few final thoughts about the Oscars and about the movies this year, the documentary category, all of them, all five of them, are great. And for one of the first times ever, I think three of the five the majority of them are not from the U.S. They’re foreign documentaries. It makes it very interesting. So check them out if you have a chance. All the shorts this year, short documentary, short live action films, short animation, all of them fantastic. On my film festival site right now, it’s a virtual site, you can go there and you can rent, or you can buy a ticket to watch all the shorts, the Oscar nominated shorts this year. I encourage you to do that. And then finally, oddly enough, this year, I have only seen one of what used to be called best foreign film and now it’s best international film. I’ve only seen one of the five nominees. So I don’t feel it’s right to make commentary on just the one film I’ve seen. 

Michael Moore [00:41:39] I plan to see the others, and I probably will bring a number of them to my own film festival, but it’s sadly one of the categories I just did not have time to watch the films this year. But they’re from Bosnia. You know, one of them’s from Hong Kong. And I just heard that the state TV in Hong Kong is prohibiting the Oscars from being shown because of the nominees for best foreign based international film. And one of the nominees for one of the shorts is from Hong Kong, and they take a critical view of how the Beijing government is trying to crush any dissent and trying to create a way that the people of Hong Kong don’t want to live. So now they’re going to black out the Oscars this weekend. 

Michael Moore [00:42:34] So right there, it makes you want to see the film, right? So anyways, I hope this has been of some help if you haven’t seen these films I’ve spoken of. Please do. Let’s get rid of the Coronavirus, so we can get back into the movie theaters and watch these movies the way those of us who make them intend for them to be seen. I have enough friends that work in the movies, fiction and nonfiction, and I know that they’re dying to get back to work, that they don’t want to die. Some have started in other countries. So we’ll have a new batch, hopefully by this time next year. Let’s hope so because I personally am ready to make one of three films I want to start making at some point here. Like I’m backed up. I need to get these films out of my system. So that’s my hope for this year that I will be making a movie in the year called 2021. Thank you to all of those of you who have made these incredible films here in the last year. And good luck to all of you at the Oscars this weekend. I know the feeling and well, there’s nothing like it. And best of luck. 

Michael Moore [00:44:16] So everybody, thanks for listening to this episode of Rumble. Keep watching movies, let’s all go back to the movies when they’re in the theaters, when it’s safe to do so. And I’ll be watching the Oscars on Sunday night, they begin at 8:00 Eastern Time. I’m looking forward to it. And plus it’s been conceived by the great Steven Soderbergh. So right there, something that’s going to be alright. Everybody, thanks so much for listening to Rumble. Thank you to our executive producer Basel Hamdan, our editor Nick Kwas, and all of you for being listeners of this podcast. And talk to you real soon and have a good rest of the week. I’m Michael Moore and this is Rumble.