Just when it seemed like there have been enough "October surprises" this campaign season, liberal documentary filmmaker and rabble-rouser Michael Moore has emerged with a contribution of his own, a new 2016 campaign-themed documentary that debuted Tuesday in New York City.
The director revealed the secret project in a series of tweets on Tuesday, which culminated in a free screening of "Michael Moore in TrumpLand."
Despite its title, the film itself is less about Trump (whom Moore has dismissed in the past as a "performance artist") and more about the director's evolving relationship with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Moore made it clear in the film that he has never voted for Clinton.
In "Michael Moore in TrumpLand," Moore takes center stage in a way like he never has before. The film is a one-man show extolling the virtues of Clinton's political career and her potential for greatness as a president before an audience largely composed of skeptics. It takes places in the largely conservative community Wilmington, Ohio -- the birthplace of the banana split, and located in Clinton County.
"I wanted to do something subversive here, something that wasn't expected," he told reporters at a press screening Wednesday. "That I, of all people, would be making the case for Hillary."
"Nobody needs a film to tell you that Donald Trump is full of s--t and an awful human being, who would come to see that movie?" added Moore. "What I thought would be interesting is what if I wrote this one-man show and then perform it in hostile territory."
Moore's film -- which he hopes will reach Clinton haters; voters who are leaning toward Trump or a third party; or perhaps are thinking of not participating this November at all -- suggests that much of the antipathy toward Clinton is overstated and overlooks the barrage of abuse she's endured for being a feminist. The film argues that admiration for Trump is steeped largely in white male paranoia over their inevitable diminished role in society.
"We had a good run -- 10,000 years. It wasn't bad," Moore quips.
Even Moore's biggest fans would concede that the filmmaker has a mixed record as a prognosticator. In 2012, he predicted that President Barack Obama would lose his re-election bid to Republican Mitt Romney.
Moore does have a knack for directing and producing powerful, polemical documentaries that frequently find a broader audience than typical unscripted fare. The most famous example -- 2004's "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- remains the top grossing documentary film of all time, and a fascinating time capsule of that election year.
In "Michael Moore in TrumpLand," the director makes a rhetorical connection that is sure to make headlines. He likens Clinton to Pope Francis, suggesting they both could come to represent progressive wolves in conservative sheep's clothing. And while he deftly outlines the many flaws on Clinton's record -- in part by bantering with an audience that gradually warms to him -- he makes an emotional and compelling argument against using the ballot as an "anger management tool" by voting for Trump.
Moore actually acknowledges some of Trump's appeal, particularly his threats to take on Ford Motor Company executives, as indicative of many disaffected Americans' feelings. But Moore said that a Trump victory would be "the biggest f--k you ever recorded in human history," and one the American public would come to regret, similar to the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom.
Given Trump's penchant for taking on any of his critics, no matter how tongue-in-cheek ("Saturday Night Live," for instance), there's a chance that if the candidate himself gets a whiff of what Moore is cooking, he might provide the film with some free publicity.
Unlike "Fahrenheit 9/11," however, "Michael Moore In TrumpLand" is not yet getting a wide release. The press release for the film, which Moore teasingly refers to as the "the film Ohio Republicans tried to shut down," says that it will be playing in exclusive one-week runs in New York and Los Angeles -- not exactly pro-Trump communities.
Although Moore jokes in the film about Clinton watching his performance, he insisted that the film has no ties to her campaign.
"Nobody from the Clinton campaign has seen this. I can't imagine they would ever endorse this," he said. "I will get it to them, it will be available to everyone in 24 to 48 hours."
The film is also a challenge to Clinton, not just an endorsement. In "Michael Moore in TrumpLand," the director pledges to run for president in 2020 ("I'll run with Kanye, or Kanye can run with me," he deadpans) if Clinton fails to fulfill promises she made to Sanders supporters if she is elected president.
"When I say that, I'm not kidding around," he said Wednesday. Among his "platform" proposals are a promise of marijuana delivered every weekend by the post office, a single charge cord for all electronics, free HBO for all and only women should be allowed to buy guns.
But all kidding aside, Moore said he sees nothing funny about Trump's unsubstantiated claims that the election results on November 8th may be fraudulent.
"We need 40 to 45 state trouncing of him ... because he is inciting violence, that's what he's doing," Moore told NBC News on Wednesday. "And if its really close ... I don't even want to think about that."
"You should all be concerned about what's going on and what may happen, it's all about who gets out the people on that specific day," he added.