The temperature where popcorn burns

It seems like we've taken forever to see it, but Sharon and I finally dragged our cynical carcasses up to Cedar Rapids to see the Fahrenheit 9/11. For some reason, the Collins Road outfit lost their print for a week, but it's back now.

The audience for the matinee was almost all seniors, so we got to eavesdrop on chatter about VA hospitals. I have to admit, everybody's said everything that needs to be said about the movie. I guess I'm always a little surprised about what moves me in Michael Moore movies and what irritates me. Cheap theatrics irritate me: harrassing congres people and conspiracy theories drive me nuts. For instance, Moore posits that our efforts at rebuilding Afghanistan were half-assed to facilitate the development of a pipeline that would be big oil's wet dream. But pipelines are famously easy to disrupt (see Iraq), so how would nothing less than the total domination of the Afghan landscape by the mighty forces of Western capitalism be adequate for the task. Afghanistan may be a fiasco, but I think we can lay the results at the hands of greed and incompetence rather than a sinister conspiracy of Taliban leadership and the Bush crime family.

Since I'm kind of "meh" about Messy Mike Moore, I guess I'll have to rave about a couple of other neat related things. First off, the playhouse where we saw the movie is an interesting venture. The Collins Road Theatres is an independent five-plex that plays second-run mainstream and slightly off-mainstream fare. Prices are $3 - $4 dollars which are low enough make it worth the gas to drive up north. The space is not snazzy: it is carved out of a dying strip mall, and the interior isn't that amazing, but it is clean, and food prices are merely unreasonable instead of being outrageous. But the place is fun: the manager gives out free concessions in a pre-show announcement, and the staff are cheerful. This weekend, they were in surprisingly elaborate costumes for the MDA fundraisers this weekend. What CRT lacks up in decor, they make up in spirit, value, and much needed counterprogramming.

One of their unusual choices is showing the documentary, Control Room. Sharon and I caught this at the fabulous Tivoli theatre in St. Louis. You take your opportunities when you can get them. It's a nice contrast to Fahrenheit 9/11, an attempt to explore the different points of view coloring the coverage of the beginning of the War in Iraq, with a special emphasis on the people working behind-the-scenes at Al-Jazeera and in the media center at CentCom. Everybody gets to say their piece, nobody is ambushed (except the Al-Jazeera office in Baghdad, by US bombs). Nobody drives around an ice cream truck.

So that's my recommendation. Go see Control Room at Collins Road Theatres in Cedar Rapids. Don't do anything else.