Sunday, June 04, 2006

First Person

A few years ago, Errol Morris did a TV series for Bravo called First Person. Each episode consists mainly of interviews with a single person (I've seen one so far that interviewed a few different people at once). So far I think the series is great. This isn't surprising--I'm a huge Errol Morris fan. This is despite the fact that Fog of War made me super super mad. Not the film itself, because I think it's subtle enough that you can't tell what position Morris is taking. But he spoke at the screening I attended and was definitely pro-McNamara/JFK and anti-LBJ, which I think is a) historically fuzzy (including this treatment of the assaassination of Diem) and b)too easy. Vietnam is way easier to explain when it's just LBJ's fault.*

Anyway, First Person is AMAZING. Some of the episodes are better than others. So far there's a lot of 'true crime' themed ones. But despite that you see a variety of different kinds of people connected to those true crimes--or some other bizarre event--in surprising ways. The story isn't necessarily the true crime, even if that's the starting point. Stephan said that the great thing about Errol Morris is that he builds the docs as celebratory features of the subjects so much so that if the subject watched, they'd be thrilled with them. And then he lets the subjects hang themselves. It's true too. You start out really sympathizing with a lot of these people and by the end, they're saying things that make you doubt everything that came before. And they're the ones saying it. It's not Errol Morris bringing in another perspective or something. It's amazing.

All that said about the true crime ones, the not-true-crime episode "Stairway to Heaven" is so good it's almost trancendent. I'd rather not give too much away, but basically it's about an autistic woman who builds the infrastructure for slaughter houses. I can't remember the last time I've felt so surprised and awed by someone's approach to the world. I can't recommend it enough.

*On the other hand, I feel very comfortable blaming Iraq on Bush. I wonder if my historical distance lets me be more forgiving of LBJ or if it's just that I like his domestic policies better or if Vietnam legitimately was more complicated. I really do believe JFK got LBJ into it, even if LBJ then handled it poorly.


Blogger MisterSir said...

Hello there. Thank you for the secret invitation.
I've been reading your entries bit by bit. The photos of you and Stephan are really nice.
We've been watching the Errol Morris docs a few at a time [Trey got them for Christmas]. They are really interesting, and a bit scary with how sterile they are.

11:11 PM  

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