Author Topic: The Unknown Known  (Read 3591 times)

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Just Withnail

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The Unknown Known
« on: September 03, 2013, 05:07:17 PM »
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Director: Errol Morris
Starring: Donald Rumsfeld

Former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Interview with Errol Morris

polkablues

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 05:11:11 PM »
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Basically a Fog of War sequel... interesting.

That smile Rumsfeld does at the end is like a snake slithering across my grave.
First things first, I'm surrealist

Just Withnail

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2013, 05:19:10 PM »
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A very...measured...and...nuanced...slithering snake...I think.

Just Withnail

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2013, 04:46:14 AM »
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Great interview with Morris where he compares the film to a Borges story, calls it his best film, discusses Rumsfelds smile, compares the interview to a wrestling match.


jenkins

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2013, 02:21:52 PM »
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Just Withnail you're like my secret best friend

have you seen it, is it out? i'll see this thursday. morris seems to like it

BB

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2013, 09:45:00 PM »
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I've seen it! It's really good. Perhaps more of a sequel to Tabloid than Fog of War...

Just Withnail

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2013, 09:21:08 AM »
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Just Withnail you're like my secret best friend

have you seen it, is it out? i'll see this thursday. morris seems to like it

Haha, yes. Not seen it yet, no dates yet for Berlin or Oslo, where I usually am.

wilder

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2013, 01:40:29 AM »
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jenkins

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2013, 11:48:01 AM »
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^los angeles, from the screening i went to. fwiw

is that all i have to say? embarrassing. this doc hasn't lingered with me. except my friends and i make donald rumsfeld-type explanations now. well actually, that is a linger, and a good one. ideas from the doc continue to hold the thoughts of me and others. nice. in the beginning (far back, five sentences ago) i was hard on morris, because these days i'm overall less appreciative of a guy sitting in a chair, staring at a camera, and talking. that's my bad? as morris reminded us, he invented the interrotron. that's his cinema. on a human level, he knows what to pull from people and how to pull it. he has excellent curiosities. another craft of his is entertaining fluidity. ok. ok, ok i'm back on ship. pheww. i guess i needed this paragraph

Just Withnail

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2014, 07:02:11 AM »
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Yeah this is a completely different animal from Fog Of War or Standard Operating Procedure, where his confrontations have (on the surface) more satisfying results, in that there's at least a small sense of justice and bad guys kind of admit their wrongs.

This is more like The Foggy Mind Of Rumsfeld, and a frustrating exercise in never being able to pinpoint what the hell he really means. There's no gotcha moment, and the closest it gets (with the Schlesinger Report) has Rumsfeld basically just not acknowledging that he just contradicted himself blatantly.

The memos are an interesting subject. On the surface they give the impression of a man grappling with definitions and precision, trying to make sense of his surroundings. But on closer inspection, much of their logic falls apart. Which is of course a sweeping generalisation, seeing as there was 20 000 of them, but this is the main theme of the film. In Morris's own words, how Rumsfeld uses language "not as misdirection, but obfuscation" and that the scary thing is that Rumsfeld believes what he's saying. The way the explanation of "unknown knowns" repeats like a chorus in the film really brings home the ridiculousness of it, and when confronted with a logical error in it, Rumsfeld again just ignores the error, refusing to look a blatant truth in the eye.

You really feel how well the memos focused the film when the film puts them away for a while in favor of a lengthy passage about his rise into politics, which is interesting background information, but that doesn't add too much to the main theme of how this man uses language.

At the q&a Morris was asked why he thought Rumsfeld even agreed to do this, and Morris responded with something like, "for a man who likes to talk, this might just have been an opportunity to talk some more".

He also retold the story about his wife comparing Rumsfeld to the Cheshire Cat, and that there was "something about that grin". Following this a woman in the audience compared him to Humpty Dumpty who thinks that a word "means just what I choose it to mean", but this lead to Morris to talking about the Jabberwocky nonsense poem and saying if Rumsfeld was a Lewis Carrol character (he pauses before bellowing) "BEHOLD THE JABBERWOCK, MY FRIENDS!"

pete

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2014, 03:49:15 AM »
+1
sounds like louis ck did a better job
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Reelist

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2014, 07:17:15 AM »
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you guys heard that audio? well it just found a home


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Mel

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2014, 06:40:13 AM »
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Highlights: Rumsfeld being most self deceived person Errol met, filming at the same place as "The Fog of War" and not wanting to make sequel to it out of interviews with Rumsfeld, differences between Rumsfeld and McNamara, reenacting memos, asking more personal than political questions, bureaucratic survival, Morris receiving "snowflake" from Rumsfeld, old man crying, shallow explanation and reasoning of Rumsfeld, "Unknown Known" being an horror film.
Simple mind - simple pleasures...

picolas

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2014, 01:29:00 PM »
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this is a perfect sequel to the fog of war (or perhaps counter? negaquel?). rumsfeld is a riveting character all the way down to his unexpectedly goofy smile. the sum of his contradictions, obsessions, and power is truly surreal. when morris first introduces the flashing dictionary definitions i thought he was being uncharacteristically hand-holdy, but then it all starts to click in: semantic madness is the central theme of rumsfeld's career. a fixation on explanations, connotations, appearances, rather than what is actually being explained. he is a wonderfully (and painfully) unreliable narrator, but he also manages to convey the ins and outs of the job in an eloquent, accessible manner. the strength of any given defense coming down to the human imagination is as fascinating as it is frightening.

i wish morris would make a movie with every secretary of defense--everyone ever, really.

minor quibble: i didn't like morris' tv graphic for press conferences shot in a different aspect ratio. distractingly ugly. surprising for a guy who is probably the greatest visual storyteller working in docs today.

classical gas

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Re: The Unknown Known
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2014, 06:13:03 PM »
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This is on Netflix Instant

(Nymphomaniac I and II as well)

 

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