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With: Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze, Catherine Keener, Lance Bangs, Lynn Caponera, James Gandolfini, Meryl Streep
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Lance Bangs, Spike Jonze
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 45
Date: 08/14/2009

Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Into the Night of His Very Own Room

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Oscilloscope Pictures released a DVD of this HBO special, a loving portrait of 80-something Maurice Sendak, by director Spike Jonze. While making Where the Wild Things Are (2009), Jonze and Sendak developed a close friendship, and so Jonze turns his camera on the old writer and tries to find out what makes him tick. He gets remarkably close in less than an hour; Sendak comes across as prickly and crabby, but also funny and truthful. Catherine Keener also shows up; she appears to be just as fond of him. For extras, Jonze, Keener and co-director Lance Bangs cooked up a series of little filmed shorts to go with some of Sendak's spoken stories. We also get footage of a tribute to Sendak, with James Gandolfini and Meryl Streep reading his stories aloud. Finally, there's an onstage interview that's really quite moving. There's also a liner notes essay by Tony Kushner. All of this stuff feels like it could have been extras on the Where the Wild Things Are DVD and Blu-Ray, but it's also powerful enough to deserve its own disc.

Best Buy Co, Inc.