peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2014 04 18 TheUnknownKnown

The Unknown Known

/noise/movies | Link

Back to the Music Box Theatre after a day of fruitless apartment hunting on this non-public-holiday Good Friday. Note to self: avoid the pensioner times (in this case 5pm) as these places tend to attract the bored and idle. The bloke behind me squeaked his chair the whole time, though perhaps he didn't notice or his hearing aids masked it.

This is Errol Morris interviewing Donald Rumsfeld. The old news conferences get a run, as do some facts (for a change) which cause the not-so-great man some pause, if only to reach for a denial or to spread the blame widely. We get a fairly-well packaged account of the rise of Rumsfeld through the time of Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and the pleasure he still takes in knowing that he stymied George H. W. Bush, if only momentarily. While he is more reflective than I would expect Dick Cheney to be, he is no Robert McNamara, and this is no Fog of War; simply, he is not searching for truth, then or now. What was the point in this interview, beyond a platform for more self-serving banalities?

The last part is an exercise in particularly tedious Rumsfeld epistemology, and perhaps the only reversal he allows himself in the entire film.

Fred Kaplan, unfamiliarly at the New York Times, is dead right. Their regular reviewer A. O. Scott is also right, though I would conclude that Morris loses; he should have found some other interviewee. Dana Stevens interviews the interviewer.