Michael Moore: A DVD-Phobe Picks A Few Favorites The pugnacious polemicist tells Steve Inskeep how he learned about a resurgence in Norwegian cinema, about an elaborate prank in the Czech Republic, about why he's not a big DVD fan — and about why he assumed the fetal position during a film about a Kazakh journalist.
NPR logo

Michael Moore: A DVD-Phobe Picks A Few Favorites

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125740148/126039988" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Michael Moore: A DVD-Phobe Picks A Few Favorites

Michael Moore: A DVD-Phobe Picks A Few Favorites

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125740148/126039988" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


We have some movie recommendations this morning. For our occasional series about DVDs worth checking out, our own Steve Inskeep asked filmmaker Michael Moore to share some of his favorites.

Mr. MICHAEL MOORE (Filmmaker): Can I say something to begin with?



Mr. MOORE: Im not a big fan of DVDs. I have to be honest. I've probably only rented, maybe a half-dozen in my lifetime. Generally, I believe you should see a movie in the movie theater.

INSKEEP: Well, now, how do you go about watching an old film then, if you want to see "It's a Wonderful Life" one more time?

Mr. MOORE: I keep a list on my computer of the various art houses and places that show old films. And Ill drive, literally, for hours to go see something from the 1940s, if I can see on a movie screen.

INSKEEP: So youve kindly sent us this list of DVDs with that caveat, or this asterisk, perhaps, on the list, that if you must watch a DVD...

Mr. MOORE: If you have to watch a DVD - and I actually I've included some that will be extremely hard to see in a movie theater. For instance, a documentary from the Czech Republic is not going to be playing at the shopping mall near you.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about a documentary from the Czech Republic thats on your list. "Czech Dream," what is it?

Mr. MOORE: It's a documentary made by these filmmakers who, I guess they were concerned about how their country, that used to operate under a socialist system, was now becoming more and more capitalist, which meant a lot of good things. But there was also the dark side. And so they decided to create a fake opening of a big shopping center - like a big Wal-Mart in the Czech Republic.

And even though, of course, this wasnt going to open they created a whole campaign, a media campaign and they filmed the people's reactions to it and their desire to just shop, shop, shop and buy, buy, buy. And, because we're so used to living that way, to have a group of people who haven't lived that way...

INSKEEP: Clamoring to be that way.

Mr. MOORE: Right. To see it through their eyes, it was revealing, even to me. Because I mean I go to the mall. I buy things, and sometimes without even thinking about it.

I wish I saw more films like this that really - that challenged me. And it was funny, which is so rare in documentaries. And I've been encouraging documentary filmmakers to use more and more humor.

INSKEEP: You also have on your list here "Borat," which sounds like a nice transition out of "Czech Dreams."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MOORE: Well, I have never laughed so hard for 90 minutes, during a movie, in my lifetime. In fact, a friend of mine who was actually sitting across the aisle, he said to me afterward, he said, I looked over at you and you had gone into a fetal position in your chair...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MOORE: ...you were laughing so hard. And now, of course, if you know me, you know for me to do the fetal position in a movie theater chair...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MOORE: ...it's almost impossible. But he said thats exactly what I was doing cause I was crumpled over with laughter so much.

(Soundbite of movie, "Borat")

Unidentified Man: All right. Well, this morning we have a very special guest here in the studio. This is Borat Sagdiyev. He is traveling across America to get the taste of life here in the United States. Good morning to you.

(Soundbite of film, "Borat)

Mr. SACHA BARON COHEN (Actor): (As Borat Sagdiyev) Hello. My name of Borat. Hello.

Unidentified Man: Hello.

(Soundbite of kisses)

Unidentified Man: Thank you.

Mr. COHEN: (As Borat Sagdiyev) Before we start, can you tell because I want to make a urines and then I come back here. If you tell me one minute before we start.

Unidentified Man: We're started. We're actually live on the air right now.

Mr. COHEN: (As Borat Sagdiyev) I have very excite.

Unidentified Man: Yes.

Mr. COHEN: (As Borat Sagdiyev) How are you. (Foreign language spoken)

INSKEEP: Let's remember, this is a film by Sacha Baron Cohen, right?

Mr. MOORE: Thats correct. And the man's a genius. And I think that he completely, again, coming from Britain and taking a look at us, it was not just funny for funny's sake but also had, I think, some important things to say about who we are as a people.

INSKEEP: Now, youve spoken up for humor here in these last several choices, but youve also got some darker films on your list. One of them is called "Troubled Water."

Mr. MOORE: This was the best film that I saw last year. Absolutely, hands down, It's a film no one has heard of, really, and a film that didnt get distribution in this country and now has a DVD distributor.

INSKEEP: May I say this is a Norwegian film? It's from 2008 and one of the main characters is a man who has been released from prison after murdering a child? Is that correct?

Mr. MOORE: Right, thats what he's been accused of, and he claimed it was an accident. But he serves his time and he gets out and he gets hired as an organist in a church. And one day, the mother of the child who's now a teacher is bringing her class to the church. And he's up in the choir loft practicing on the organ. And she turns up, looks up there and sees that it's him and she starts to lose it.

It is captivating, and I think anybody who loves to see a good movie, would love to see this film.

INSKEEP: How did you come across "Troubled Water" yourself?

Mr. MOORE: I read that there was this sort of resurgence in the Norwegian cinema.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: You must have looked pretty hard for that article, but go ahead.

Mr. MOORE: I dont know where I came across it. So I called up the Norwegian Embassy and I said, hey, if I wanted to just see what Norwegians are watching these days, how could get a copy of some of these films? And they said, sure. And they sent me five or six of them.

I was blown away - film - one after another, not just "Troubled Water." One of the best horror movies I've seen in a long time called "Dead Snow," a film about zombie Nazis. Essentially the story is that these Nazis were left behind way up in the fjords at the end of World War II and nobody came to collect them.


Mr. MOORE: And over the years turn into zombies.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MOORE: And now they're terrorizing the poor Norwegians. And it is both hilarious and scarier than anything that youve seen in a long time.

INSKEEP: Hmm. Well, I wonder what will happen when people hear that another one of your favorites for DVDs is "Hearts and Minds?"

Mr. MOORE: "Hearts and Minds," yes. It's certainly my favorite documentary of all time. It may be my favorite film of all time. It is a perfect film, made by a director by the name of Peter Davis. He won the Academy Award for it for Best Documentary, I believe in 1975 or '76. And it is the definitive account of the debacle we know as the Vietnam War.

This film is so well constructed, so emotional, and so many great moments. I still remember, to this day, I remember the filmmakers interviewing Daniel Ellsberg who exposed "The Pentagon Papers," and he says to the cameraman, we were sent over there to fight the enemy.

(Soundbite of movie, "Hearts and Minds")

Mr. DANIEL ELLSBERG (Former Military Analyst, RAND Corporation): Basically, we didnt want to acknowledge the scale of our involvement there. We didnt want to realize that it was our war, because that would have been to say that every casualty on both sides was casualty caused by our policy.

The question used to be, might it be possible that we were on the wrong side in the Vietnamese war? But we weren't on the wrong side. We are the wrong side.

Mr. MOORE: When he says that, it really hits you. It really, it's like it's hurts. But you know what? If it hurts it probably should hurt. And we need to confront these things so that we dont them again.

INSKEEP: Well, Michael Moore, it's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Mr. MOORE: Thank you very much, Steve.

MONTAGNE: Filmmaker Michael Moore on his favorite DVDs.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News with Steve Inskeep. Im Renee Montagne.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.