And the third one may end up being the winner. Just days ago I was lamenting the difficult decision of choosing between seeing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with my 9-year-old son, or heading out to Jonathan Glazer’s long-awaited “Under the Skin” on my own next week. They both open on the same day, you see: 4/4/14. And now I learn that there is a third highly anticipated release being thrown into the mix that day, in documentarian Errol Morris’ “The Unknown Known”. This is a triple threat of cultural eclecticism. “Captain America” feeds my blockbuster cravings, “Under the Skin” nurtures my artistic desires, and “The Unknown Known” quenches the thirst for knowledge. How does one day get plagued with such difficult choices? I guess it’s better than there being a dearth of selections.
“The Unknown Known” is the tenth documentary feature from Errol Morris, since his debut with “Gates of Heaven” in 1978. I’ve watched all nine previous ones, and there’s not a clunker in the mix. In fact, I just re-watched his 1991 “A Brief History of Time” via the new Criterion DVD. Also, his 2003 Academy Award-winning “The Fog of War” is easily one of my favorite documentaries of all time. However, Morris first sucked me in with his extraordinary “The Thin Blue Line” from 1988. That’s the one that got a man(Randall Dale Adams)released from a sentence of life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And what better recommendation for seeing it then that?
Controversial Bush administration Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is the subject of “The Unknown Known”, and it has some people labeling it an unofficial sequel to “The Fog of War”. And that comparison has me salivating. Both films are roughly an hour and 45 minutes long, and I remember commenting over a decade ago on “The Fog of War”(it was #1 on my Top Ten roster for that year, btw)that I could’ve watched Robert McNamara talk for six hours. His ramblings, especially those concerning the Vietnam War, were that compelling. Will Donald Rumsfeld prove to be a worthy competitor? Despicable man, or not…I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. And with a director like Morris at the helm, it promises to be an insightful showcase.
And you know how it’s looking, concerning my options arriving in triplicate? “The Unknown Known” just might win out. My son’s school and extracurricular activities seem to be canceling out “Captain America” for that day. Also, my wife will be tied up with important work business into the evening of April 4th, making “Under the Skin” unlikely as I’ll be tending to my two boys. But, I’m hearing promising rumblings that “The Unknown Known” will be premiering on Video On Demand, the very same day that it’s released in theaters. Which provides the wonderful opportunity of experiencing it from my own family room that night, once the kids are asleep. So, an unexpected underdog suddenly leaps to 4/4/14’s forefront. And, no matter which I get to first, the only certainty is that you’ll soon see them all reviewed soon—right here on the blog. And April is promising to be a plethora of riches.