Michael Moore, Ugly American
Simon Houpt of Toronto's Globe and Mail wrote Moore's advice "reflected a typically American arrogance -- his assumption that the war should be the primary issue for foreign voters simply because it's the primary issue for him."
To be sure, Moore's movie has overseas admirers. After all, the film did win the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes international film festival.
"The genius of this most American of films is that it has turned politics into a blockbuster subject," wrote a reviewer in the Observer of London. "It's the first punk rock movie: it must have cost less to make than The Blair Witch Project, and yet he's managed to distill reality and come up with something more powerful."
Some of the criticism abroad echoes that heard in America, faulting Moore for intellectual incoherence and emotional exploitation. But other critics voiced arguments not often heard in the United States.
Emir Kusturica, a filmmaker from Sarajevo, told the Israeli daily Haaretz that he was not impressed by Moore's desire to defeat Bush.
"What is the difference between one American president and another?" aked Kusturica. "They're all really the same, they're all products of the media and they all declare that they want the same thing -- to do well by the people and bring peace to the Middle East."
The failure to talk about Israel is the biggest weakness of the film, said al-Jazeera.net.
The Qatar-based news site credited Moore with dramatizing "that democracy itself has been threatened by the Bush presidency" but faulted the film's emphasis on ties between the Bush family and Saudi Arabia.
"The implicit suggestion that the Saudi government is somehow driving the Bush administration's policies towards the region flies in the face of Washington's unprecedented support for Israel as well as strong regional opposition to the invasion of Iraq."
Hussein Ibish, a Washington-based commentator writing for the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, said Moore ignored "the massive paper trail demonstrating a pre-existing agenda, which placed the overthrow of the Iraqi regime at the center of both US and Israeli policies."
Instead, Moore depicts "the malevolent influence of 'the Saudis,' a phrase that in the US is increasingly spat out with utter contempt, reminiscent of the tone reserved for 'the Jews' in anti-Semitic discourse, ascribing to millions of otherwise heterogeneous people the same menacing and hostile essence."
"Moore may or may not affect the election," Ibish concluded. "But he has certainly succeeding [sic] in bringing to a great many Americans the most powerful critique of US foreign policy they have ever heard, albeit one that rests on a bizarre and incoherent conspiracy theory and which confuses at least as much as it enlightens."
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