Roger & Me
Directed by: Roger Moore Running Time: 1 hr 31 mins Rating: R Due Out: October 7, 2014
WHO'S IT FOR? Well, let me tell you a story. I was home sick in middle school. My dad recorded some movies after a free HBO weekend. "Roger & Me" was rated R, and I thought I was about to get away with something. I was wrong. What I'm saying is, it's not for middle schoolers. It's for everyone who has ever considered liking documentary films. It's that simple.
This is the chance to see Moore before he became the Moore you have a definitive love OR hate relationship with.
Before we get to the film, if you subscribe to Moore's e-newsletter, this is old hate, if not, here's a message from Michael Moore about his film.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, is a big day for me. Warner Bros. is releasing to you, the public, the completely restored, newly-remastered 25th anniversary edition of my very first film, ROGER & ME. It's the first time this has been done for any movie of mine, a full 4K digital restoration from my original 16mm negative. The result is a mind-blowing version that now should live on for, well, for as long as the planet lets us stick around. In addition to supervising this restoration, I've recorded an all new director's commentary track to go along with it. It's completely uncensored and straight from the gut. I do not talk about "how I lit" the little bunny rabbit. I do name names and candidly tell you about the unlikely history of a film that should never have gotten made. There are three ways you can see this newly-mastered version of ROGER & ME: 1. Purchase the Blu-ray from a site like Amazon today. 2. Download it from iTunes (available tomorrow). 3. See it in a movie theater this fall. It played in NY and LA last week and will play other cities. Ask the local theater owner in your area when it is coming. Also, you or your group can arrange a special one-night screening in your town by contacting RogerMe@michaelmoore.com.
ROGER & ME is the movie, as many of you know, that began my career as a filmmaker. It is, shockingly, every bit as relevant today as it was when it came out in 1989. Though I didn't realize it at the time, it foretold the systematic elimination of the American middle class and, in its wake, the so-called American Dream -- the dream that promised if your hard work made your boss rich, you would be rewarded with a few simple comforts like your own home, a college education, affordable medical care, and a nice, long paid vacation. ROGER & ME, through my telling of the story of GM and my hometown of Flint, warned that the wealthy had other plans for you in the 21st century -- the crux of which was "no more sharing of the pie." A few would still get to be rich, I predicted; the rest of the citizenry would fight over the remaining crumbs when not distracted by inflated fears of foreign threats or scary domestic events like gays marrying or a President who faked his papers at birth. And what has happened since ROGER & ME? Well, Wall Street's wealth multiplied three times over -- while workers' wages remained stagnant or decreased, and benefits and pensions became nothing but fond memories of a bygone era. Twenty-five years ago I saw the beginning of this, and instead of screaming from the mountain top, I made ROGER & ME. It (along with "Do the Right Thing") was the most acclaimed film of 1989. As one critic wrote, "It has ignited a modern-day documentary movement." It was the first nonfiction film shown in mainstream multiplexes and shopping mall cinemas -- 1,300 of them. This had never happened before with a documentary. ROGER & ME set the all-time box office record for a doc (a record that was later broken by "Bowling for Columbine" and then again by "Fahrenheit 9/11"). Two years ago, Lincoln Center wanted to have a special night honoring ROGER & ME. They discovered -- to their horror and mine -- that all the existing prints of my film had been ruined by time and the elements. That set me and Warner Bros. into motion and, after the Library of Congress designated ROGER & ME a "national treasure" last December (which placed it on the federally-mandated list of films that must be preserved), Warner Bros. spent tens of thousands of dollars not just to preserve my film, but also to bring it into the digital era. The results of their restoration are nothing short of stunning. I sincerely hope you get your own copy of it. Thanks again for your support of my work over the years. I hope I can continue to live up to your faith in me and the movies I make. All my best, Michael Moore
MOVIE: courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Roger & Me, the highly acclaimed and groundbreaking hit film that launched Michael Moore’s career as a documentary filmmaker and a leading nationwide activist, debuts in a new 25th Anniversary Blu-ray™ edition, DVD and Digital HD on October 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Roger & Me is a highly original, personal and satire account of one of America’s greatest urban disasters told against the background of the tough times in Flint, Michigan, Moore's hometown. The birthplace of General Motors, Flint had been economically decimated by, among other things, plant closings and the elimination of 30,000 GM jobs. In Roger & Me, Moore gives cinematic voice to his razor-sharp, compassionate and often wryly humorous perceptions of what went wrong in Flint, and chronicles his much-thwarted efforts to meet face-to-face with then-GM Chairman Roger Smith. Blending humor with scathing indictment, Roger & Me ignited a national discussion about the cruelties of corporate America and inspired other filmmakers to make films that would be seen by wider audiences.
Roger & Me, which has a ‘100% Fresh’ critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board in 2013. The film won a number of critics’ awards including Best Documentary from the New York, Los Angeles and National Film Critics and the National Board of Review. It was also the hit of the New York, Toronto, Vancouver and Telluride Film Festivals. In September, the Toronto International Film Festival will host a special anniversary screening of Roger & Me. Twenty-five years ago the Festival premiered the documentary and then awarded it its major prize – the People's Choice Award, which is given to a feature-length film with the highest ratings as voted by the Festival-going populace. These days, General Motors is once again surrounded by controversy. Moore commented, “I'm proud of the impact of Roger & Me over the years – both in terms of public awareness of the behavior of Corporate America, and in helping to ignite a now-thriving documentary movement. I’m also honored that Warner Bros. is celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary with the same kind of unflinching support they gave me back in 1989.”
"But I must state that there is nothing to cheer about these days when it comes to cities like Flint and Detroit, not to mention witnessing the continuing nationwide elimination of our middle class. My hope is that with the film's re-release, both on Blu-ray™ and in theaters, people throughout the country will not only see their own struggles but also be inspired to do something about it."
Moore added that Warner Bros., by re-mastering his film and creating a newly-restored print, “has guaranteed that future generations will be able to watch Roger & Me for a long time to come.”
In addition to Roger & Me, Moore is best known for three other films: Bowling for Columbine, the 2002 documentary dealing with guns and violence in this country, which won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary and at the time became the highest-grossing documentary domestically; Fahrenheit 9/11, which followed in 2004, won the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and has since become the highest-grossing documentary of all time; and lastly, 2007’s Sicko, about the U.S. health care system, which was also Oscar®-nominated for Best Documentary Feature.
Moore’s other films include the short Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint, a 1992 follow up to Roger & Me; Canadian Bacon, a satirical feature starring Alan Alda, John Candy and Rip Torn; Slacker Uprising, a hilarious journey through the 2004 presidential campaign; Capitalism: A Love Story, which examines the financial crisis of the late 2000s and the country’s economy during that time; and The Big One, documenting Moore’s first “author tour” for his best-selling book Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American. Moore wrote seven other New York Times best-selling books including Stupid White Men and Dude, Where's My Country? In 1995, his series TV Nation won the Primetime Emmy Award® for Outstanding Informational Series.
Moore was born in 1954 in Flint. He later attended the seminary for the Catholic priesthood, became an Eagle Scout, and at age 18 became the youngest elected official in the country. At 22, he co-founded the Flint Voice, a nationally-recognized alternative newspaper, before becoming a filmmaker. Moore now lives in Traverse City, Michigan, where he founded the Traverse City Film Festival and two art house movie theaters, the State Theatre and the Bijou by the Bay.
MOVIE SCORE: 9/10
· Commentary by Michael Moore NEW!