Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why it's hard for me to be a member of the Errol Morris Fan Club.

I'm not tremendously well-versed on documentarian Errol Morris' work; I've been lucky to see the more-or-less serious films (THE FOG OF WAR--which deservedly won its Best Documentary Academy Award, STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, THE THIN BLUE LINE) and I've missed out on what seems to be the "look at these strange/quirky/stupid people" offerings like VERNON, FLORIDA, GATES OF HEAVEN, MR. DEATH, etc.


Key passage from the Wikipedia article:
After [Randall] Adams' release from prison, he ended up in a legal battle with Morris concerning the rights to his story. The matter was settled out of court after Adams was granted sole use of anything written or made on the subject of his life.[15] Adams himself said of the matter: "Mr. Morris felt he had the exclusive rights to my life story. ... I did not sue Errol Morris for any money or any percentages of The Thin Blue Line, though the media portrayed it that way."[16]

Morris, for his part, remembers: "When he got out, he became very angry at the fact that he had signed a release giving me rights to his life story. And he felt as though I had stolen something from him. Maybe I had, maybe I just don't understand what it's like to be in prison for that long, for a crime you hadn't committed. In a certain sense, the whole crazy deal with the release was fueled by my relationship with his attorney. And it's a long, complicated story, but I guess when people are involved, there's always a mess somewhere

True story: I was at the Telluride Film Festival in the late 1980s when Morris, speaking as part of a panel of filmmakers/pundits (sort of remember Annette Insdorf being there), was rather snotty about Adams and the I-want-my-life-rights-back lawsuit--in essence, referring to Adams as a sort of ingrate.

Remembering that incident, Karina Longworth's review of Morris' new film TABLOID (unveiled at the Toronto Film Festival) doesn't come as much of a surprise to me:

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