|IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY?: AN ANIMATED CONVERSATION WITH NOAM CHOMSKY (director/writer: Michel Gondry; cinematographer: Michel Gondry; editors: Adam M. Weber/Sophie Reine; cast: Noam Chomsky, Michel Gondry; Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Raffi Adlan/Georges Bermann/Julie Fong/Michel Gondry; Partizan Films/IFC Films/Sundance Selects; 2013)|
|"I only wished the well-meaning
documentary would have been less cutesy and
opened up more doors into Chomsky's
by Dennis Schwartz
unique and unwieldy animation documentary offers a
spirited series of conversations, taking place over
several months, between French-born director Michel
Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind"/"The Science of Sleep"/"The We and The
I") and the noted American 84-year-old anti-war
activist, philosopher and MIT linguistic professor,
Noam Chomsky. The film is a thought-provoking and
lighthearted stab at coming to grips with the
linguist's ideas about language and human cognition
and also presents his biography. Gondry poses
questions with childish cartoon drawings mostly in
pen-and-ink as he tries to put Chomsky's more abstract
theories into a more literal translation. I found the
animations annoying, reminding me of bored students
doodling during a college lecture, that took away from
my concentration to Chomsky's responses. Also the
director's foreign accent and trouble expressing
himself in English were major distractions.
disappointed that I got so very little out of this
gimmicky project, which would have been probably
better served by just having an articulate interviewer
(not a talking head!) ask the professor questions.
What's intellectually enjoyable is when Chomsky expounds on such things as Plato's Theory of Remembrance, that teaching is laying out a stream of ideas for students to travel in and that modern science since Galileo's time was revolutionized by questioning things even if they are resolutely accepted. These thoughts all fit in with Chomsky's maxim: “If you’re willing to be puzzled, you can learn.” I only wished the well-meaning documentary would have been less cutesy and opened up more doors into Chomsky's progressive thinking.
REVIEWED ON 6/25/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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