Culture » Film

The Unknown Known, Infliction, B.B. King: The Life of Riley




The Unknown Known (PG-13)

Anchor Bay

Donald Rumsfeld's performance in The Unknown Known, master interrogator Errol Morris' new political documentary, is just as terrifying for Morris' camera as it was from behind the White House dais. The filmmaker has Rummy read selections from memos the SECDEF wrote as one of the architects of the failed Iraq War. What we learn is what we already knew: that the lifelong Republican hawk is in love with his own words, and that he's a champion at dodging questions. Poker face in place, Rummy sees Morris' inquiry with a meaningless idiom, and raises him a Red State dog whistle, namely his paralyzing fear that anything short of dominance will be perceived as weakness. It's a glaring character flaw that the Princeton grad has convinced himself and many high-ranking officials is simply "character." Someday, future generations may laugh at his folly, but in the present, this film is salt in a gaping national wound. — Justin Strout

Infliction (NR)

Virgil Films

Yet another entry in the found footage horror subgenre, Infliction takes the focus off ghosts and witches for a few minutes to zoom in on something even more provocative and chilling in this age of social media: serial killers documenting their evil deeds. Psycho brothers take to the road, leaving behind a deeply unsettling catalog of crimes, but director Jack Thomas Smith goes even deeper by displaying a domino-effect of shorts, starting with the things that made the siblings monsters, all the way to how their crimes affect society at large. Whether this was a serious treatment or just a way to justify the absolute horror going on on-screen I'm not sure, but it works and gives Infliction a little bit less of an exploitative bent than most other filmmakers would've done with it. But, on the other hand, that lack of fun in the proceedings also makes it an extremely heavy viewing that causes more problems than it solves, entertainment-wise. — Louis Fowler

B.B. King: The Life of Riley (NR)

MVD Visual

No need to sing the blues: The sensational documentary B.B. King: The Life of Riley is something for a gospel choir to sing hallelujah from the rooftops about. Directed with the loving care of a fan who's looking to pay loving tribute to his hero, director Jon Brewer has crafted not only a stunning doc, but a powerful story of one orphan's rise from the cotton fields filled with racism and segregation to become the living embodiment of blues music, as well as a total American icon. Filled with a virtual parade of talking heads from every facet of the entertainment industry, the real meat is the archival footage and interviews with King himself, pulling no punches but still remaining as affable as ever. Add to this some fantastic live concert film and you've got a crowd-pleasing documentary of a true pop-culture original that every music fan should see. And even those who aren't. — Louis Fowler

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