Almost exactly fifty years ago as I write this, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX, and we’re still talking about aspects of the shooting decades later. Was there a single shooter, or multiple assassins? Was the killing the action of a loner, or the product of a conspiracy involving the CIA, the Mob, and foreign powers?
Errol Morris has looked into the JFK assassination before, in works like the short The Umbrella Man. For that short he talked to Josiah “Tink” Thompson, a professor-turned-private investigator. He’s also a proponent of a three-gunmen theory, as put forth in the book Six Seconds In Dallas, which takes a scientific and evidence-based approach to the theory that multiple shooters acted on that day in Texas.
Now Morris presents more material with Tink, in a short called November 22, 1963, which looks at the various photographic evidence captured that day by ordinary citizens. The Zapruder film is, of course, the spine that connects many other pieces of evidence, but here the two men lay out a path of photographic evidence, and discuss how it effects our understanding of what happened that afternoon. Read More »
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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we bang our heads to some Icelandic death metal, get Donald Rumsfeld in the 1:1 cross-hairs, go down the road of an unwanted pregnancy, and try to find answers about a dead body.
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Briefly: Errol Morris is best known as a director of documentaries (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, Mr. Death), though his efforts range from commercials to television, newspaper essays, and books. He’s even released one dramatic feature, The Dark Wind, and has been working on another, Freezing People Is Easy.
Now Morris has lined up yet another non-doc feature, a thriller called Holland, Michigan. The “suburban thriller laced with black humor” was scripted by Andrew Sodroski, who hails from Boston and attended Harvard. This is his first script sale, but given that Morris has also long made his home in the Boston area, there could be prior working history between the two that hasn’t been reported. We don’t have many more details on the film, but those can wait. (And that description could so easily apply to Morris’ last film, the doc Tabloid.) Any new feature from Morris, documentary or not, is automatically of interest. [Deadline]
After the break, as a bonus, watch Errol Morris and Wener Herzog talk about the doc The Act of Killing, for which they act as exec producers. Read More »
The Fog of War, the Errol Morris-directed documentary featuring former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, is one of the most valuable works Morris has produced. While some might argue that McNamara’s history would have been better revealed through a set of forceful interviews rather than the Morris style of gentle prodding, the fact is that the film is a significant political and cultural document in which one of the prime architects of the Vietnam War reflects upon, and in some cases regrets his past.
Many comparisons have been made between McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld, who first became Secretary of Defense about a decade after McNamara left the office, and then was again posted to the position under President George W. Bush, in 2001. Rumsfeld was one of the chief faces in the response to the attacks of September 11, and his position on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq became a key point of argument amongst Bush’s detractors.
Rumsfeld achieved many other things over the course of his long career in both the public and private sectors. And evidently he recently sat for a series of interviews with Errol Morris, who plans to cut the footage into a new film that could well end up echoing The Fog of War. Read More »
Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012 by David Chen
Director Errol Morris has made a career out of solving mysteries, which comes as no surprise since the man used to be a private detective. Whether he was exonerating Randall Dale Adams in The Thin Blue Line or unraveling a sordid sex tale in Tabloid, Morris has deftly used his subjects to provide gripping accounts of situations that have been wrapped in intrigue and ambiguity.
In his book, Believing is Seeing, Morris turns his attention to the art of photography. In a series of photographic whodunnits, Morris explores the truth-telling capacity of photos. His conclusion? “Photographs don’t have truth value.”
I had a chance to sit down with Morris in his Cambridge, MA office during his recent book tour and chat extensively with him about the nature of photography, the plausibility of re-enactments, and Joyce McKinney’s controversial reaction to Tabloid. After the break, read highlights of my discussion with Morris. Below, you can also download and listen to the entire hour-long interview I had with him. You can buy his book at Amazon or in bookstores. Tabloid is now also for sale on DVD.
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Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 by Angie Han
Whether or not Kristen Wiig decides to do Bridesmaids 2, what’s obvious is that she’s not wanting for work. The actress-writer-producer is already involved with several intriguing projects, and she may soon be attached to one more.
Wiig, along with Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken, are circling roles in Errol Morris‘ Freezing People is Easy, based on Robert F. Nelson‘s memoir We Froze the First Man and a This American Life segment titled “You’re as Cold as Ice.” Paul Rudd has been set for the lead role of Nelson since last year. More details after the jump.
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What a treasure we have in Errol Morris. This year he already gave us Tabloid, a tremendously entertaining documentary that presents a wild, lurid story and uses it to sift for, if not factual truth, at least the perception of truth from a specific perspective. Truth and perspective have been two of the driving forces for Morris’ entire career as a documentarian, with both explored in detail through essays the filmmaker writes on a semi-regular basis for the New York Times.
The latest film from Morris is a six-minute short made for the New York Times. The Umbrella Man is a short interview with Josiah Thompson, a Kierkegaard scholar who also wrote Six Seconds in Dallas, the key book that argues for a three-gunman explanation for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
But this isn’t some conspiracy theory story. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is, as Thompson says, a cautionary tale, about the dangers of looking for evil where it might not exist. Read More »
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Back in April of 2009 acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris announced his intent to make his second non-doc feature. The film was being written by Stranger Than Fiction scripter Zach Helm, based on two sources: Robert F. Nelson’s memoir We Froze the First Man and a This American Life segment called ‘You’re Cold As Ice,’ which jointly follow the story of Robert Nelson, a TV repairman who developed his own cryogenic preservation technology in the mid-’60s.
We haven’t heard much about the film in some time, but it isn’t dead. (Resist the puns. Resist the puns.) Now, while promoting his recent documentary Tabloid, Errol Morris has revealed that Paul Rudd will play Bob Nelson. Read More »