Thursday, February 18, 2016

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

(Movie Review)

Why I Saw This Movie
I've wanted to see this movie ever since it first came out two years ago.  (If memory serves, it was this review which first alerted me to the fact this movie existed).
But I couldn't track down a copy in my area of the world.
And then, I discovered the website, which hosts just about any animated movie in existence.  (It's illegal, I assume, but I've never been a purist about copyright law).
And I discovered a copy of this movie on their website here.

The Review
It's not a bad little movie by any means.  Chomsky is fascinating to listen to as always.  But since there are a million and one Chomsky interviews and talks floating around on youtube already, it's a bit hard to pin down what is this movie's reason to exist.  It's essentially just a Chomsky interview that someone animated.  If you've seen Chomsky interviewed before, you've essentially seen this movie.
People more artistically inclined than I am will, however, appreciate all of the creative animation and visuals that Michel Gondry brings in.

3 out of 10 stars.  (I have a hard time figuring out what distinguishes this from the millions of Chomsky talks already out there on youtube, which makes it hard for me to give this a high rating as a movie.  As an interview though, it was just fine.)

External Links
Since I don't really appreciate art, I'll just quote from someone who does.  Here is a bit from the avclub review I mentioned above:

it’s a small relief that the interview-doc Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?—subtitled “an animated conversation with Noam Chomsky”—smuggles in a fair share of the fantastic, smartly illustrating the MIT professor’s ideas with rapid-fire hand-drawn cartoons, mixed-media collage, and occasional Bolex footage of the man himself. There’s an almost trippy sensation as Chomsky’s deliberate cadence is overlaid with imagery that shows, say, the degree to which humans identify a tree by its placement rather than its genetic makeup. The contrast in tempos produces the feeling of arriving to class overcaffeinated—or alternatively, watching the graduate-seminar equivalent of Schoolhouse Rock.
Connections to Previous Posts
In the opening to the movie, Michel Gondry briefly mentions other Chomsky documentaries: Manufacturing Consent, and Rebel Without a Pause.

Michel Gondry also mentions the Russian novel Fathers and Sons in his discussion.

The best explanation I've ever heard of Chomsky's theories on grammar come from The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker, the content of which overlaps heavily with some of the discussions in this documentary.  (To illustrate the same grammatical principal, Pinker uses the very similar sentence "Is the unicorn that is eating flowers in the garden?")

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky: Latin America is in regression

No comments: