Larry Mantle |

Two Major Documentaries Debut Within Days




Opening today was Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story," with Ken Burns' "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" starting this Sunday evening on PBS. The close proximity of the two reminds us of how robust and varied our choices of non-fiction films are these days.

Though Burns and Moore make movies with very different intents, each has a distinct signature style that is controversial in its own way. Moore, of course, entertains with political satire aimed at a liberal audience. Burns exhalts the cultural and natural wonders of the country, along with poignantly chronicaling our toghest times. Moore faces criticism for his movies being too much about him and about stacking the deck to build his case. Burns is dinged by his critics for omitting aspects of the subjects he covers, as well as his heavy reliance on readings of historical writings and dramatic music.

However, the reason each has been able to keep with his approach is how well it's connected with audiences. Ken Burns is responsible for some of PBS' largest audiences ever. Michael Moore has had his own steady and, with Fahrenheit 911, spectacular success.

Tomorrow on "AirTalk," I'll interview Ken Burns about the challenges of making his six-part series on the parks, and what he's hoping it will do for the future of our public lands and our understanding of the then revolutionary concept that made it possible.

Friday on "Film Week on AirTalk," our critics will review Michael Moore's new movie and let us know whether they think it will satisfy his fans. There's no doubt it will enrage his critics -- just as he likes it.