Michael Moore, a fractious cross between John Pilger and Tinky Winky, is doing Flint, Michigan proud. This weekend past, Box Office for his new Controversial™ and No Holds Barred™ documentary has been keeping apace with Jessica Alba’s turn as the Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

This is to say, of course, Sicko is doing moderately well. The grit is hovering in the Top Ten and, according to Moore’s personal newsletter, has now amassed the second biggest US weekend opening for a documentary. The first, needless to impart, is Fahrenheit 911.

Alba, 26, recently told press that she likes to keep slim and s-xy by working out to loud and funky music at the gym. Moore, who is tiny for a mid-westerner, maintains his girlish figure by listening to the anarchic ranting of neo-cons and regularly getting thrown out of global corporate headquarters.

Each fitness activist continues to seduce thousands of new male fans. Although, let it be said, there are considerably fewer blokes in the Alba fan club who own copies of Das Kapital, tubes of Clearasil and belts made of string.

(And, it’s true that Moore is the next Most Likely spokesmodel to succeed Anna Nicole at Trim Spa.)

Now starring in his fourth flick as an earnest every-slab, Moore is a legitimate celeb. He has been playing the talk shows masterfully and, perhaps, edging closer to his aim of transforming the parlous health-care system.

The film, by all accounts, is very good, if You Like That Kind of Thing. I.e. Leftist emotional p-rnography that does its best to alter public opinion. It may not, however, resonate with Australian audiences as we simply don’t have identical or even analogous problems with our health care providers.

This didn’t stop new Melbourne International Film Festival Director Richard Moore from booking Sicko into his opening slot.

Plus ca change, as Australian Festival Directors offer in a vile accent while miming significance in the upscale sunshine of Cannes, plus c’est la meme lens. Apart from the weirdness of this opening selection, the Australian Moore is sticking to the popular formula of previous MIFF director James Hewison. Asian slow-bore, a youth focus and, yes, another affectedly dreary outing by Lars Von “I’m So Pretentious I Even Managed to P-ss off the Endlessly Chipper Bjork” Trier.

Talking to The Age, Oz Moore said the selection was apposite as it would “set the mood for the after-party”.

And, in a sense, he’s right. I have attended a MIFF opening night party and the mood is generally one of Australian cultural embarrassment and worthy knee-jerk liberalism. Really, it reminds one of a faintly better looking, better dressed and drunker Socialist Workers Party meet-and-greet circa 1984. Ashamed of our own heritage and unwilling to enlarge upon it, we speak of borrowed politics and themes.

So, Sicko should be perfect.

Already, I miss James who, it must be said, knew how to curate a stinking Australian film for first night audiences and do so unapologetically while manfully holding his liquor. James speaks fairly good French, as it happens, and could probably intone “plus ca change” in Cannes with reasonable efficacy. This, however, never stopped him from putting indigenous work on prominent display.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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