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NY DAILY NEWS Oct 23 2002 | Elizabeth Weitzman

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman's "Derrida" is the sort of film one should probably see either a half dozen times or not at all. It's a complex, highly ambitious documentary that aptly reflects its subject, contemporary French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

Although we follow Derrida on his lecture tours around the globe, the learn little about his personal life or professional history as "the father of critical deconstruction." The filmmakers knew that no matter what approach they used, Derrida's nature would, of course, be to deconstruct it.

And in fact, when they attempt a traditional interview, he does just that, humorously analyzing the interview process until it falls apart. All the filmmakers can do is ask questions, rather than probing for explanations that he would only tear apart.

Still, the 72-year-old Derrida can be a patient and good-natured teacher. If there's one major complaint about the film, it's that Kofman and Dick spend too much time applying his lessons. "Derrida" is so busy questioning, examining and - yes - deconstructing itself, it sometimes falls too far into a philosophical hole.

Whenever we start to lose ourselves in one of Derrida's lectures, for example, the directors interrupt to consider how his words might relate to their film. Watching "Derrida" - like reading the man's work - can be tremendously challenging. But if you stick with it, there are exceptional rewards.

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