Friday, November 25, 2005


milkriverblog has a new meme:
From a rather huge email list of blog owners that i've accumulated, i have written a mass email challenging everyone to post (at least) one movie title -- a film they have seen, that they think is wonderful, that they would watch over and over, but which is so obscure that the average person would not know it by name.
As soon as Tony tagged me, I knew what the movie was.

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control by Errol Morris.

Morris is a masterful interviewer, and this is probably his opus. Splicing together four marvelous and wide-ranging interviews with a lion-tamer, a topiary artist, a robot scientist and a biologist studying naked mole rats, Morris creates an artificial dialog about the state of the world, the nature of fame, the process of obsolescence, and the human condition with all its strange twists. The score by Philip Glass is perfect, and praising Philip Glass takes something out of me.

No review on the internet can do justice to Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, and I encourage – no, require – you to rent, or better yet buy, this astounding film. It's smart without being brainy, it looks back in time without weepy nostalgia, it looks forward in time without being preachy.

The strength of Morris's unnarrated films driven entirely by the interviewee's comments (and brilliant editing) is that it cannot be preachy. The people say what they have to say, and no matter how he changes the order of their interviews, their emotions and thoughts are only their own.

Even The Fog of War illustrated that complexity. Robert McNamara is a complex figure. His decisions as Secretary of Defense were hugely controversial, and it's amazing to come out of that latest Morris movie which consists almost exclusively of Glass's score and McNamara's voice with a deeper understanding of McNamara's personality and without knowing what exactly Morris thinks of it all.

F,C&OoC takes on issues that are at once less weighty but more significant, and weaves the fascinating story of each of his characters into the story of the human race, scientific progress and art.