THE UNKNOWN KNOWN (Errol Morris)
DOC NYC opens with Errol Morris’ latest film, a sequel of sorts to The Fog of War. That earlier film was a feature-length interview with Vietnam-era defense secretary Robert McNamara. This time, Errol Morris talks to another defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. While Robert McNamara came from a place of introspection and regret, Rumsfeld seems to stubbornly resist this. And though Runsfeld claims to not be an obsessive person, one obsession comes through very clearly, one with words and their meanings. He calls the countless memos he's sent over the years "snowflakes," since they've been as ubiquitous; he even sent memos specifically asking for the dictionary definition of words. Rumsfeld's unique turns of phrase were what made his press conferences during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan such often comically surreal spectacles. However, the central question, one left up to the viewer to decide, is whether Rumsfeld's word obsession was in the service of getting at facts and truth, or if this was intended to perpetrate an Orwellian obfuscation of those things.