The Unknown Known

Rated 4.0

The title of Errol Morris' latest documentary comes from one of subject Donald Rumsfeld's pet sayings, and it displays the sort of verbal and logical contortion that the former defense secretary is famed for. Rumsfeld dictated more than 20,000 memos during his tenure in the Bush II White House, and he still seems to be a never-ending source of riddlelike “rules,” which are pitched somewhere between Zen koans and malapropisms. It's all very cute, and Rumsfeld seems quite satisfied with himself, until you realize that his verbal trickery misled us into a war that killed half-a-million people, and his lipless, lizardlike grin belies the satisfaction of getting away with it. In other words, Rumsfeld is a classic Morrisian deluded obsessive, and while there are enough revealing moments to recommend the picture, Morris comes closer than usual to a sort of queasy hero worship.