Errol Morris has uploaded his 'First Person' interviews to Youtube
July 30, 2020 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Playlists: Series 1, Series 2. This is a PSA via Kottke.
posted by carter (20 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
These look quite interesting. Can't watch now but will check them out after work this evening. I'm always looking for non-fiction video to watch. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 6:15 AM on July 30


Yeah this looks good. I know Errol Morris gets a lot of shit for his neutral portrayal of monsters, but man that scene at the end of Gates of Heaven where the dude is playing his electric guitar on top of the hill is just about as close to perfection as it comes.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:27 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Looks really interesting thanks
posted by crocomancer at 6:36 AM on July 30


"for his neutral portrayal of monsters"

I could be wrong but I think history will be much kinder to Morris than some of his more (present day) vociferous critics, in this regard.

Some film makers channel their personal feelings into every camera angle, editing decision, the framing of questions, etc. Morris seems to be going for something different, and personally I think the impact is devastating for that. There's a reason we have a world populated by Michael Moores on the one hand, and Errol Morrises on the other.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:30 AM on July 30 [15 favorites]


Errol Morris uses an innovative/gimmicky interview technique dubbed "interrotron" using mirrors to make his subjects appear to be staring straight at the viewer as if they were conducting the interview. During the pandemic folks have tried mimicking this technique to improve the intimacy of web meetings.
posted by St. Oops at 8:05 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


I know Errol Morris gets a lot of shit for his neutral portrayal of monsters

Apologies, I was not up to speed on this. If this content is distressing/triggering for people I'm happy to have it deleted.

posted by carter at 8:21 AM on July 30


Loved that first interview. https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Victims-of-shady-lawyers-reimbursed-12848304.php
Had to laugh when I searched that lawyer to see what he was up to nowadays. Probably not much
posted by Actively Avoiding the Noid at 8:23 AM on July 30


People are mad that Errol interviewed Bannon, but I don't know that he's been canceled just yet?
posted by pmv at 8:29 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Errol Morris's Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control is one of the finest examinations of the human condition in any media, any genre. A masterpiece.
posted by kozad at 8:59 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


YAAAAAY! These are all great. I really like “You’re Soaking In It”, which is about cleaning up places where people have died. Undeniably morbid, but also rather jolly.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:09 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite Errol Morris videos is Subterranean Stadium which follows a group who play electric football. I love how he allows people to tell their own stories and somehow always investigates the human condition in whatever subject he is working on. I also love his obsessively researched NYTimes piece about the cannonballs on the road, and really interrogating the notion that we can really know a thing and being indulgently exhaustive about something that may not really matter.
posted by Dmenet at 10:42 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Loved that first interview. .......Had to laugh when I searched that lawyer to see what he was up to nowadays. Probably not much

I found it a little heart breaking when that guy turned out to be a total fraud...sigh.

The other lawyer...the mob one was pretty entertaining in a laugh instead of crying kind of way. I mean just going with the idea that an effective defense involves saying a murder is an accident where the alleged victim actually just fell backwards onto the knife my client happened to be holding, several times, is pretty much so crazy it is almost charming but for it's horror. Charmorrible
posted by Pembquist at 11:03 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


My profound respect for the vast gamut of Errol Morris' work took a hit due to his role in the Theranos debacle. I find it very hard to reconcile someone with his acumen in plumbing human depths being hoodwinked (along with everyone else involved)...
posted by progosk at 11:36 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control is on the short list of greatest documentaries ever made. Documentaries are always judged by their subject first, but it's very difficult to say exactly what Morris' subject is here—perhaps an examination of life as a phenomenon? Really, words fail. But if it could be easily summed up by words, he wouldn't have had to make the movie.

His second-greatest film is The Fog of War. At the height of the post-9/11 wars, and at the very moment when it looked like Iraq maybe wouldn't be an empire-toppling debacle, Morris coaxed the hard truth of imperial folly out of the architect of Vietnam, Robert McNamara. I got my staunchly conservative Vietnam vet stepfather to watch it, and when it was over, he just shook his head and said, "Yep."
posted by vibrotronica at 2:08 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]


My profound respect for the vast gamut of Errol Morris’s work took a hit due to his role in the Theranos debacle. I find it very hard to reconcile someone with his acumen in plumbing human depths being hoodwinked (along with everyone else involved)…

It certainly adds some unpleasant color to the man, but perhaps I’m too much of a sucker for Morris’s docs to allow it to ruin the experience. Morris has always seemed very opinionated about the world, something that rang particularly true to me after I read both A Wilderness of Error and a corresponding, anti-Jeffrey MacDonald/Errol Morris/A Wilderness of Error article by Gene Weingarten in The Washington Post. I was quite swayed by Morris, but it’s obvious that he has an ego and a set of opinions, and didn’t seem like someone who would recant when challenged, or who would take (justified) humiliation well. To me, his documentaries are good not because he uncovers hidden secrets in others’ hearts, but rather because he asks interesting people interesting questions, and that seems a little removed from this bit of ick. I do wish he would face up to it though. The world needs more truth tellers who are willing to own that they got duped.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:40 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


In a way, The Thin Blue Line has perhaps been a curse for Morris since it really makes you want to see him as a documentarian who solves problems and crusades on social issues, and not a weirdo documenting other parts of weird America.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:43 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


The Thin Blue Line has perhaps been a curse for Morris since it really makes you want to see him as a documentarian who solves problems

True: that film's ultimate righting of a wrong definitely set a daunting precedent, whereby it can seem like some sort of failure of his art/craft when you subsequently find him methodically aiming for a lack of closure, despite that being an objective he's actually repeatedly stated for himself, as part of his interrogation of the nature of truth.

he has an ego and a set of opinions, and didn’t seem like someone who would recant when challenged, or who would take (justified) humiliation well. [...] I do wish he would face up to it though.

He finally addressed Holmes/Theranos in an AMA in June last year, and again in an interview in November (about 57 minutes in). Though he keeps it to the accusations of not having done due diligence on what to him was a commercial contractor, and then tacks on some thing about his faible for "weird girls" (ugh...), given that he also specifies that interrotroning Holmes was his request, there's no real exploration, beyond a kind of everyman defence, of why he too fell for the sham. He's not wrong that so far the journalists and other filmmakers on the case have also failed to identify a why, beyond plain greed, to the extraordinary height to which her fraud was able to grow. A little less Heisenberg would have been nice from him, here, still.

Thanks for the Weingarten article - I knew nothing about this story (or Morris' book). It's a pretty harrowing read.
posted by progosk at 1:11 AM on July 31


Apologies, I was not up to speed on this. If this content is distressing/triggering for people I'm happy to have it deleted.

I'm only really aware of Morris "taking a lot of shit" regarding his Bannon interview (his most recent one) or maybe Rumsfeld (though I thought he tried there, Rumsfeld is just kind of impenetrable). And that's definitely not what all of these are - watch "Leaving the Earth" for example (note: scary subject matter in other ways but the interviewee is not a monster at all!)
posted by atoxyl at 1:17 AM on July 31


[Quick note on a word used upthread: words like "crazy" and "insane" reinforce negative stereotypes about people living with mental health conditions (info). Please think about using less hurtful (and more accurate!) descriptors — for example, in this case, maybe "bizarre," "farcical," "laughable," "risible," "preposterous," "ridiculous," "ludicrous," or "absurd." Thank you! ]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:25 AM on August 1


@Vibrotronica - I used to work at one of Rodney Brooks robotics startups, and would walk by a framed Fast, Cheap and Out of Control poster shown in the wiki page on a daily basis, in the hallway near where his desk was. He's definitely an interesting dude!
posted by Greasy Eyed Gristle Man at 11:07 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


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