Michael Moore has apocalyptic visions.
The superstar documentarian got standing ovations before and after speaking to a sellout crowd at the Montclair Art Museum on the last day of the Film Festival, so to say he was preaching to the converted would be an understatement.
But Moore insisted he wasn’t interested in comforting liberal Montclair.
He says he’d like to make movies about the things that scare him. Tops on the list: the world will run out of oil in this century. That’ll be trouble for transportation, he says, but we’ll solve that. The real question is how do we live without petrochemicals? “No more toothbrushes. Are you ready to go back to wooden sticks and horsehair?” There’s no refrigeration without plastics, he points out. “There is going to be a calamity the likes of which you can’t imagine.”
The director of Fahrenheit 911, Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story says the goal of his movies is first to entertain, then to rile you up. “I don’t want you thinking, `Damn! the world sucks!’ but to get angry and think, `Damn! I can do something about this.’ ”
He also worries about things we can’t do anything about. Solar storms that could fry the electric grid, for example.
Still, he’s optimistic about youth. Old people die and their prejudices — about race and sexual orientation, to name two — die with them. “Things do get better,” he says, “and it’s because of young people.”
Interviewed by festival director Thom Powers, Moore talked at some length about a film festival he runs in Traverse City, Michigan. It’s brought in a lot of culture and commerce to a place that really needs it. And you know that announcement every movie theater makes about turning off your mobile phone before the show. “In our theater, if we catch you talking or texting during the show, we ban you for life.”
It’s a muscular approach he’d like to see to see spread to politics. Conservatives win, Moore says, because when they get power, they use it.
When liberals win, they want to bring everybody along.
He laid down a challenge for his Montclair audience.
“If you think this is such a great place, what are you doing to lead New Jersey to a better place? I mean, your governor is a disgrace!”
That was the afternoon’s biggest applause line.