Have been looking forward to the release of Errol Morris’ The Unknown Known for about six months now. Finally got to watch it yesterday. Rumsfeld is about as demonically charming as you’d expect — enough to make all the matinee-attending millionaire lefties at the Laemmle theater in Old Town Pasadena gasp in horror. The film itself, though, felt endless. In Fog of War, Morris was concise and suggestive (almost to the point where an uninformed viewer like myself might have to scramble for wikipedia); in The Unknown Known, he gathers in too much about Rumsfeld’s political past and too little about his time in the Bush admnistration.
Rumsfeld talks about his days in the Ford administration, the young Dick Cheney, his wife and Nixon, which is all fascinating, but when we get to the part about the Iraq war and Abu Graib, Rumsfeld reverts to the party line. There’s not much new information on the plan for the invasion nor any moment of intense reflection on the Bush administration. Rumsfeld, for the most part, just plays Ol’ Rummy.
Morris is one of my heroes and so I’ll put in the usual caveat: The Unknown Known is still better than 99% of documentaries out there and it still should be considered a vital public service, much like Fog of War was. But in this particular film, his obsessions about Rumsfeld created a kind of narrative bloat and made me wonder if the film might have run better at 45 minutes.
Quick note: Morris does not dance around the question of whether or not Rumsfeld knew about what was happening at Abu Graib. He seems convinced, as he should be. But it was interesting to watch Rumsfeld talk about Abu Graib and the two separate times he tried to resign in the wake of the scandal while still tacitly denying his prior knowledge. It was one of two times in the film where you could feel Rumsfeld give a bit (I won’t give away the second) and despite what you might think about him and his ability to feel guilt or empathy, you can at least sense that an old man is grappling with his past.
That scene alone complicates the easy conclusion you might draw from the rest of the film — that it takes a special type of sociopath to become as powerful as Donald Rumsfeld . (I guess I’ve always preferred Robert Caro’s version of a powermonger over Michael Moore’s.)
More people should know this shit before we go around idolizing those bullshit awards.
is netflix paying critics to say house of cards is good? because man, it really really isn’t…
In June of 2012, a group of artists and friends in Portland, Oregon found a massive derelict house boat hidden in a dogwood-fluff-covered corner of the Multnomah Channel. After a series of strange and magical events, conversations, and whiskey bartering, they decided to salvage material from the forgotten floating mansion, and turn it into their own floating home. List of essentials before building?: a library, a whiskey bar, a succulent garden, and a second story, among other things. For 3 summer months, we worked day and night to build, with nails & screws, words & dreams, intention & luck, The Domino May, named after our dead chicken and the month she died (although those nouns and verbs were always shifting meaning). We made readers of our favorite stories, essays, and poems to read while we float. We brought our favorite books and our favorite whiskey. We brought our swimsuits and paddles, waterproof snacks and gluten-free food for one of us. Big ideas and dear friends. Believing in lived language, alternative spaces, and the power of failure, we drift down the Columbia, dreaming of the ocean, stopping at every abandoned ship, friendly neighboring river boat, and unexplored island we encounter.
The Domino May float build read swim dream fail.
Seriously… fuck these people.