Director: Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman
Year Released: 2002
Kofman and Kirby Dick take on one of the most important modern figures in philosophy, Jacques Derrida, and his elaborate system of 'deconstruction,' a method of reading texts to expose their inherent contradictions, fallacies and so forth. But if the two filmmakers were trying to make a film about deconstruction - and, in turn, a documentary meant to be deconstructed - they were unsuccessful: the meaning of Derrida's work is suggested but never rigorously examined, and the vain attempts to 'reveal' the man himself go un-rewarded, as he manages to slither away from their straightforward questions. The few times Kofman tries to expose a weakness in something Derrida said (most noticeably with his ideas on biographical information) or inquire about his wife and family, he either dismantles the questions piece by piece ("You can't ask me about love") so Kofman is left with nothing left to ask or he merely plays coy (he claims not to remember how he met his wife) - essentially, it seems less about his genius and more about mind games. Derrida seems friendly and willing to participate, but only on his own terms, and the picture's valiant struggle to present an extremely difficult concept clearly is commendable but also overly ambitious. What are we left with? Strangely enough, the most memorable image is of the wizened thinker spreading butter and marmalade on his toast.