Recently in The Morris Menagerie

Tabloid Movie Review: The Legend May Be as Insane as the Truth

Errol Morris looks at obsession, sex, and media in Tabloid.
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Director Errol Morris has interviewed serious subjects like Robert S. MacNamara and delved deep into harsh topics like the justice system and the history of time itself. So it can only look like he's run out of ideas with the frothy, utterly ridiculous documentary, Tabloid. And you'd be wrong in that summation because Tabloid takes a crazy story, told by someone who seems to define the world, and opens it up into an examination of gender, the media culture, and the power of religion. At time's hilarious and ridiculous, Tabloid sounds like a fun documentary, but indicates that we haven't

The Fog of War Movie Review: Hindsight is 20/20

"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
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Robert S. McNamara served from 1961 to 1968 as the Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Errol Morris' documentary has been put together through interview sessions with McNamara, White House audiotapes, and archival footage. A large portion of this film examines his involvement in regards to both the Cuban Missile Crisis and The Vietnam War, two momentous foreign policy episodes that occurred during his tenure. McNamara’s earliest memory is of Armistice Day 1918 as the end of World War I was celebrated. It was called “the war to end all wars,” yet humans have

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. Movie Review

A simple man asking simple questions with complex answers that he cannot understand.
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What happens when a simple man asks simple questions that require complex answers that he cannot understand? This is what Errol Morris explores in his 1999 documentary Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. During his childhood, Leuchter’s father worked in the Massachusetts correctional system as a transportation supervisor. Leuchter, Jr. would often go to work with his father and grew up seeing the humanity of the prisoners his father worked with and not just their criminality. He learned illegal skills from them like lock-picking and safe-cracking as well as other things he said helped him

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control Movie Review: Skewed Look at Human Behavior

Errol Morris's meditation on human behavior as seen from four men with very strange jobs.
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The title might throw a viewer off - 'Out of Control'. A documentary about things being out of control sounds like a warning, or a plea for sanity. Early on when the subjects of the doc were talking, I was waiting for the filmmaker's negative point of view to show itself, for the unspoken question of "what's wrong with them?" But it does not occur, because the goal in this film is not to hector, but to observe. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control profiles (without narration, just interviews and footage) four men in disparate, seemingly unrelated lines of work,

A Brief History of Time Criterion Collection Review: A Quirky, Idiosyncratic Tribute

A deep examination of a very complex, but legendary visionary
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Everyone knows the story of Stephen Hawking, the iconic physicist, cosmologist, author, and director of research. They also know that he struggles with a rare form of ALS that has afflicted him over many decades, but the coolest thing is that he doesn't let that unfortunate disease keep him doing his life's work. A Brief History of Time is director Errol Morris' quirky, idiosyncratic tribute to Hawking and his controversial ideas. In terms of Morris' other documentaries, including The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven, and The Fog of War, Brief History ranks up there with those great works, while

The Thin Blue Line Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Paradigm Shift

Errol Morris changes the documentary game in 102 minutes.
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Rarely do you watch a film and actually pinpoint where a genre actually changes. You watch Clerks or Pulp Fiction and see where the genre is being moved forward. You can see in Batman and then again in Iron Man where a genre is being reinvigorated. But in 1988, Errol Morris made The Thin Blue Line and the field of documentaries would radically change. I was surprised that it had taken this long for the Criterion Collection to release this important film on Blu-ray. Documentary. The definition for years was simply to "document reality". The popular documentaries were often nature

Gates of Heaven / Vernon, Florida Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Loving the Absurd

The characters Errol Morris speaks to in his first two films are living embodiments of the old maxim that truth is stranger than fiction.
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“I love the absurd,” says Errol Morris in one of the extras on the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of Gates of Heaven (1978) / Vernon, Florida (1981). These are the first two films from the director of such notable documentaries as The Thin Blue Line (1988), A Brief History of Time (1991), and the Academy Award-winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lesson from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), among others. To call the people he interviews in both of these pictures “absurd” is probably an understatement, but it will do. The characters Morris speaks to are true

The Unknown Known Movie Review: Rumsfeld's Snowflakes

The smile may be the "beginning of love," but it's also Rumsfeld's Weapon of Mass Distraction.
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Filmmaker Errol Morris has said of his interview with former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that it was one of the strangest interviews he’s ever done. The 2013 documentary The Unknown Known explores this conversation and effectively proves Morris right by focusing on his subject’s effusive predisposition to “muddy the waters.” Rumsfeld is not a clarifier. It stands to reason that Morris constantly uses the motif of the open water to express the man’s tendency to send people afloat on oceans of words. At one point, the water even fills with scraps of Rumsfeld’s memos. There are apparently some

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