The film calendar is so awards-driven, so targeted specifically towards the fall festivals and (heavy sigh) Oscar season, that it’s easy to presume little of note hits theaters in the first half of the year; it’s for Liam Neeson action movies and flicks that got bumped from their holiday slots because they weren’t good enough (hey there, Jack Ryan reboot). But rounding up the best titles from the year’s first six months actually yields a more eclectic and unpredictable selection, with genre titles, documentaries, indies, and oddities making up a rich and varied half-year at the movies.
The great Errol Morris turns his first-person camera on former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld in this spiritual sequel to his 2003 Oscar winner, The Fog of War. But Morris isn’t merely repeating himself here; in sharp contrast to Robert McNamara, who seemed at least vaguely aware of the mistakes he had made and the cost of them, Unknown Known shows us a political figure who has learned nothing, who remembers things as he wishes they’d happened rather than as they were, and who will not be convinced otherwise. In doing so, Morris captures as trenchant and haunting a portrait of self-delusion as I’ve ever seen.