Criterion has recently released Cannes Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color, Errol Morris’ A Brief History of Time, and Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress on Blu-ray. What do these films have in common? Absolutely nothing. My review of all three on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
How does one interview perhaps the greatest interviewer of our time? Errol Morris, a titan of documentary filmmaking, has elicited introspective confessions from both a former US Secretary of Defense and a death-row inmate. He’s a man that can interview a self-avowed Holocaust denier (as he did with Fred Leuchter in Mr. Death) — and somehow make you, the viewer, understand where this misguided man is coming from. In Morris’s latest, The Unknown Known, the great interviewer meets his match in the gobbledygook and aphorisms of two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The film (a sequel of sorts to Morris’s Academy Award winning The Fog of War) is pretty much just two men in a room – one asking questions, the other finding ways to shy away from answering. But this isn’t a film necessarily about Iraq or Abu Ghraib or any other political lightening-rod; instead it’s an expose of a man and how he wields/twists/misuses language to justify his means. A film that posits sometimes when you peel back the layers of a person, you discover the most horrible of truths: that there wasn’t anything there to begin with.
In the following interview with filmmaker Errol Morris, he discusses the ‘horrifying’ truth to Donald Rumsfeld, the perversion of language, the construction of false narratives, his own ‘physical’ presence in his documentaries, and going the fiction route for his next film Holland, Michigan. For the full interview, hit the jump.
After making its rounds on the festival circuit last year, the Errol Morris documentary The Unknown Known has now released a new trailer. Centering on the career of the polarizing figure of Donald Rumsfeld, the doc follows his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Check out Phil’s review of the documentary from TIFF here.
The Unknown Known opens April 2nd. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.
In 2003 legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris finally won a long-deserved Oscar for his feature length interrogation of Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during America’s unfortunate war in Vietnam. Ten years later, Morris has made a sequel of sorts about Donald Rumsfeld, the man who held the same position for the Bush administration during September 11th and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately this time the results aren’t nearly as satisfyingly remorseful. Instead, it feels like more spun truths and crocodile smiles from a man who specialized in those unique skills throughout his time in office. Fortunately, those qualities make The Unknown Known arguably just as fascinating as it’s sort of prequel, just in a very different way. Go on, hit the jump to find out why you lucky, lucky person.
Errol Morris is known primarily for directing documentaries, and he’s made some of the best ones of the past 25 years. He even got a guy freed from jail with his magnificent 1988 documentary, The Thin Blue Line. However, Morris does have one non-documentary feature in his filmography: 1991′s The Dark Wind starring Lou Diamond Phillips. Morris will now make a return to the fiction form with Holland, Michigan, “a suburban thriller laced with black humor based on a script by first-timer Andrew Sodroski.” Deadline doesn’t have any other details on the plot, but the production is aiming to begin shooting in the spring.
Morris is also attached to the fiction film, Freezing People Is Easy starring Owen Wilson, Christopher Walken, and Paul Rudd. It’s based on a This American Life program about a man who tried to run a homemade cryogenics lab, and it went horribly wrong (click here to listen to the episode). Sadly and ironically, the project is currently in stasis. Morris’ latest documentary, The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld, is currently in post-production. As a side note, Morris co-produced the documentary The Act of Killing, which comes out next week and you should totally see it.
The best film I’ve seen so far this year is Joshua Oppenheimer‘s The Act of Killing. Produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, the documentary focuses on executioners from 1965-66 Indonesia who were allowed to murder practically anyone they wanted, and are still treated as heroes today. Because of their utter lack of remorse, Oppenheimer asks them to direct recreations of their atrocities. The trailer hints at the dark and twisted plot without giving away too much. But even by showing scenes from near the end of the movie, this is a film that can’t be spoiled. No trailer can recreate the absolutely chilling experience of watching this documentary.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer, and click here to read my review from SXSW. The Act of Killing opens July 19th.
The last time a past Secretary of Defense sat down for an interview with Errol Morris, the documentarian earned himself an Oscar. 2003′s The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara featured Morris’ breakdown of the man who presided over the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Now, having been able to sit down with the second-longest tenured Secretary of Defense (McNamara himself being the first), Morris is looking to replicate his award-winning documentary by focusing on Donald Rumsfeld. Not shying away from such sensitive topics as the torture of suspected terrorists at Abu Ghraib prison in his 2008 work, Standard Operating Procedure, Morris will surely delve into the incidents which occurred under Rumsfeld’s reign. What’s less clear is how history will remember Rumsfeld, whether as Nixon’s “anti-poverty czar,” a proponent for governmental transparency or just another bungler in the Dubya administration. Undoubtedly, Morris’s work will have some impact on the perceived legacy of Donald Rumsfeld when it’s released later this year. Hit the jump for more on this project.
Last July, we reported that Paul Rudd would star in Errol Morris‘ non-documentary feature based on the memoir We Froze the First Man and a This American Life story about Bob Nelson, a California TV repairman who was obsessed with cryogenically freezing humans in order to resurrect them later in the future. Deadline now reports that Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken are set to co-star, and Kristen Wiig may join the film, which has been titled Freezing People Is Easy, but she first has to wrap her season on Saturday Night Live and she’s also considering other offers.
Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) wrote the script and the production is eyeing a mid-2012 start date. It sounds like a fun premise, I’m eager to see what Morris brings to the project, and I dig the cast that’s being lined up to star. Click here to go listen to the This American Life episode about Nelson, “Mistakes Were Made”.
Tabloid is the latest chapter in Errol Morris’ career long documentary ode to American eccentricity. His talent lies in finding remarkably odd and unique people and gently prodding them until they reveal life stories that would almost be too surreal to believe as fiction. Tabloid might not have the political significance of say Morris’ Oscar-winning Robert McNamara profile Fog Of War, but it just might be his most intriguing story to date. It’s a film that involves alleged Mormon rape, tabloid scandal, BSDM, mime border crossing, dog cloning, and a three-legged horse. In short, it’s got everything you need for a giddy night at the movies. The fact that it all happened to the same woman Joyce McKinney just makes the material that much more intriguing. Morris has never found a more fascinating subject than McKinney and through her quietly created one of his best films. Hit the jump for more.
Paul Rudd is set to star in a new feature film from noted documentarian Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line). The non-documentary feature is based on a story from “This American Life” about Bob Nelson, a California TV-repairman who decided that his obsession with cryogenically freezing humans in order to resurrect them later in the future needed to become a reality. The material seems pretty spot-on for Rudd’s comedic sensibilities.
The Washington Post confirms Rudd’s casting, and Stranger Than Fiction screenwriter Zach Helm will pen the screenplay. Morris is apparently collaborating with “This American Life” host Ira Glass on the project. The director previously helmed the 1991 non-documentary film The Dark Wind, and most recently released his documentary Tabloid. His 2004 doc The Fog of War (which is a must-see) won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.
The trailer for Errol Morris’ latest documentary, Tabloid, has gone online. Morris has covered eccentric figures before, but he may have found his strangest yet in tabloid sensation Joyce McKinney. Here’s the synopsis:
Thirty years before the antics of Lindsay, Paris and Britney, Joyce McKinney made her mark as a peerless tabloid queen. In TABLOID, Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker Errol Morris (THE FOG OF WAR) follows the salacious adventures of this beauty queen with an IQ of 168, whose single-minded devotion to the man of her dreams leads her on a labyrinthine crusade for love. Down a surreal rabbit hole of kidnapping, masochistic Mormons, risque photography, magic underwear, celestial sex, jail time and a cloning laboratory in South Korea, Joyce’s fantastic exploits were constant headlines.
Today’s celebrities with their mundane drug habits and nip-slips can’t hold a candle to this. Check out the trailer and the poster after the jump. Tabloid opens July 15th.
Sundance Selects has picked up North American distribution rights to Oscar-winner Errol Morris’ (The Fog of War) latest documentary, Tabloid. The follow up to 2008′s Standard Operating Procedure, Tabloid centers on “The Case of the Manacled Mormon” in which a former Miss Wyoming flew to England in 1977 in hopes of saving the love of her life from a cult. In the press release, Morris describes the film as such:
“It’s a return to my favorite genre – sick, sad and funny – but of course, it’s more than that. It is a meditation on how we are shaped by the media and even more powerfully, by ourselves.”
To check out the full press release, which includes a little more from Morris, hit the jump. Sundance plans to screen the film at “key film festivals” prior to releasing Tabloid to theaters and their on-demand platform later this summer.
The line-up for the 2010 Telluride Film Festival has been announced and there are some exciting inclusions. If I were attending Telluride, the two films at the top of my must-see list would be Errol Morris’ new documentary Tabloid which is about former-Miss Wyoming/convicted rapist/dog-cloning advocate Joyce McKinney, and Peter Weir’s war film The Way Back, which is the director’s first film since 2003′s Master and Commander.
The line-up also includes other films that are making the festival rounds including Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, the financial-collapse documentary Inside Job, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, Mike Leigh’s Another Year, and Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe. Hit the jump to check out the full line-up. The Telluride Film Festival runs from September 3 – 6th.