Wednesday, 25 December 2013

REVIEW - IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY?


The words of Noam Chomsky and the images of Michel Gondry. Their opposition - it's hardly a stylistic opposition, is it? Do Noam Chomsky's studies and theories have a particular artistic style? - makes for an intriguing collision on film, one which has its peculiar moments of brilliance, and its rather more disaffecting moments. In Gondry's inventiveness, ths 'conversation' with Chomsky is manifest, as verbally it's more like an interview. A simple interview, by no means a character study. There are plenty of opportunities to go deep with a subject such as this, but Gondry resists them - such depth is inherent in plainly posing a question to a mind as intelligent and eloquent as Noam Chomsky's. Gondry does make attempts at exploring that mind, and the man whose mind it is, with more breadth instead, with the consequence that a lot is said (so much that it's somewhat of a task to keep up), but not a lot is absorbed. The animation style is intentionally crude, a cute visual juxtaposition to the near-incessant audial theorising, though it feels natural and unaffected, since this is very much Gondry's wont. Its equally incessant movement borders on mania, and it frequently becomes a distraction to what are valuable, if dense, sonic stimuli. But there's something refreshing about Gondry's resistance to over-styling naturally modest but intellectually rich material - there's nothing about Chomsky's contribution that couldn't have been cheapened by the occasional streak of self-conscious quaintness, and the film comes close enough to that as it is.