Tell Them Anything You Want DVD

Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Jun 21, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

"You are making the documentary of a brain dead person" author Maurice Sendak warns, deadpan in the opening scene of Tell Them Anything You Want. A telling title, Sendak seems willing to explore his foibles in full, and what appears to be headed into fluffy fan-art territory swerves into a deeply personal and moving account of an artist who, despite waves of critical support, still feels like he never managed to truly express himself.

It's clear that directors Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze (in the throws of pre-production on last year's film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are) view Sendak as a mentor. Filmed over a series of visits to Sendak's home beginning in 2003, their 40 minute exploration of the author is about as intimate as a filmed encounter can get. Sendak guides Jonze, Bangs and, in a brief scene, actress Catherine Keener, though the pitfalls of growing up Maurice: the absentee parent figures, struggles with homosexuality, and how the Lindbergh baby cemented his obsession with death. Gloriously self-effacing, he dismisses controversy with a wave of his hand (On In the Night Kitchen: "Mickey has a penis! Who would have thought such a thing could happen to a child!") and insists that at the end of the day he is "Not earth shatteringly important." Regardless of a self-perceived lack of cultural impact, Sendak's documentary-closing reflections on life's simple pleasures is Earth-shakingly profound. (


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