The Netflix Files: Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?


I’ll admit this up front: if your main goal in watching Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (2013) is to arrive at an answer to the titular question, you’ll be disappointed. Almost none of the film’s meandering 88 minutes, if any at all, are devoted to meditations on correlative assessments of height and happiness.

It is hard, in fact, to say what the 88 minutes are devoted to–the movie covers so much ground while moving so slowly that it’s hard to understand, when it ends, how it’s been less than six hours, much less an hour and a half. Some of this impression may come from the altered mental state in which I watched Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, but that caveat is not at all beside the point, since I can give the film my wholehearted recommendation only to those planning on ingesting herbal enhancements before viewing. Luckily, its availability on Netflix instant play ensures this is a feasible pre-watching activity.

Indeed, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? is, while perhaps far from stereotypical stoner cinema, an essential entry into the genre. What it is–and I apologize for taking so long to get to the point–is a 90-minute conversation between the linguist Noam Chomsky (calling him a linguist is like calling Da Vinci a painter) and French filmmaker Michel Gondry (whose filmography includes, among others, cult classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay).

The genesis of the film, Gondry explains at the outset, came from his interest in Chomsky’s ideas dating back to his appearance on “some DVDs [Gondry] picked up at the video store a few years ago.” What DVDs those are, or why any profit-maximizing video store would stock them, is another point entirely, but Gondry quickly goes on to describe Chomsky as “the most important thinker alive,” presented as a quote from no one in particular.

He set out to interview Chomsky–twice, it turns out–and supplement the audio of the interviews with animation because “animation is clearly the interpretation of the author… it’s up to [the audience] to decide if they’re convinced or not.”

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And when we say sober, we mean soberer

Drunk/Sober/High: Twilight

And when we say sober, we mean soberer

One cold November day, three bloggers decided to go watch this movie’s seminal groundbreaking Christmas movie, Breaking Dawn II. For our general entertainment, one of them went drunk, one of them went high, and the other sober. General hilarity ensued. Here are their stories:


The night started with four-and-a-half-shots of tequila; High was MIA (noob, walking when you’re high is like teleporting); and some guy on the street yelled out that I was “pretty attractive.” I told him I really appreciated it because I have low self-esteem. He gave me a weird look.

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Keepin’ It Reel: Devil

As far as movies about being trapped in an elevator with Satan go, Devil is pretty good.

When it comes to fear, M. Night Shyamalan – who provided the idea and the funding for the film – has always favored the psychological. Certainly, the anonymity of the actors, the tight camerawork within the elevator, and the plays on expectations create a very human tension. Sartrean influences are evident. (Obvious inspiration and plot cues are taken from No Exit, but if you’re looking for existentialism, Cube probably does it better.) But while the “Hell is other people” theme is played out well, have no doubt: there is a very real supernatural threat here. Continue Reading

Keepin’ it Reel: Restrepo

©Tim Hetherington

“Restrepo,” the companion documentary to Sebastian Junger’s best-selling book War, diligently follows a US platoon during their 15 month deployment in the Korangal Valley, which had been considered as perhaps the most dangerous posting in the US military. Fittingly so, Restrepo is ugly. Yes, the cinematography is nothing short of beautiful, especially considering the circumstances. One can almost feel the pull of the choppers taking off, the pulse of the guns as they fire. But sharing the hell that these soldiers underwent daily for 15 months, and the contrivances they had created to distract themselves, indeed fills one with awe at just how human war can be; it’s the moments in-between the fighting – somberly strumming a guitar, shuffling through pictures of family, swapping stories about old friends who won’t make it home – that are when the real struggle takes place.

It’s difficult to walk out of Restrepo with much hope for our situation in Afghanistan. Continue Reading

Keepin’ it Reel: Taking a Look at the New Cable Car Cinema and Cafe

Local moviegoers are rejoicing this week at the grand re-opening the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe, of one of Providence’s hidden gems and what has been called one of the ten “Coolest Movie Theaters in America.” Just a quick walk down South Main (only 5 minutes from Keeney, ’14ers) puts you at the doorstep of the independent cinema which, after having been closed for the summer, opened its doors again with a brand new redesign on September 1.

Remaining are the generous leather couches that are so accommodating to couples, the throwback popcorn machine, and the friendly atmosphere. New are the elegant swerving counter-top, increased indoor space, and an idiosyncratic scuba mural on the side of the theater area itself, painted by a local artist and RISD grad. As the improved sound system is still undergoing some tweaking, you’ll have to wait until September 11 for the re-inaugural showing. But, if you’ve got a craving for equal parts mocha and music documentary, heading down to the Cable Car next weekend is a great way to get your fix.   Continue Reading