Gondry’s ‘Is The Man’ focuses on how, without asking why


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Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

Imagine you start chatting with a man next to you at a dinner party and realize within minutes that he’s smarter than you’ll ever be. If you’re director Michel Gondry, you sprint like crazy to keep up while doodling on the tablecloth. “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” consists of that conversation — with Noam Chomsky, the legendary linguist, political progressive, and public intellectual — and also the doodles. Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) filmed the encounter and uses the footage as sonic background for his own bright, antic line drawings. The film’s subtitle is “An Animated Conversation With Noam Chomsky” but it plays like “My Dinner With Andre” crossed with a laser show. It’s charming, heady, dazzling, and not as substantial as it could be.

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