“I’m reviewing a documentary about William Colby, that son of a bitch,” I told my colleague Steve Bogira. “Really?” he replied. “I thought he was sort of a good guy.” Now that I’ve seen The Man Nobody Knew and done a little homework, I think maybe both of us were right. During the Vietnam war Colby administered the notorious Phoenix Program, which assassinated more than 26,000 Vietnamese suspected of being Vietcong. But as CIA director in the mid-70s, he also went before Congress on 32 different occasions to come clean about the Agency’s dark past, a strategy that may have saved the CIA but certainly ended his intelligence career. The Man Nobody Knew is the subject of this week’s long review; it opens today for a weeklong run at Gene Siskel Film Center.
Also in this week’s issue we have a sidebar for the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and a Reader Recommends box for Margin Call, an incisive new drama about the 2008 financial meltdown. Other new films reviewed this week include Fireflies in the Garden, a family drama starring Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, and Julia Roberts; The Mill & the Cross, Lech Majewski’s meditation on the Pieter Bruegel painting The Way to Calgary; The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodovar’s creepy tale of a plastic surgeon with a scalpel to grind; Texas Killing Fields, about a serial killer roaming the bayou; The Three Musketeers, which is filled with chocolatey nougat; and With or Without Love, a musical romance that opens the Film Center’s Festival of New Spanish Cinema.