“Tell Them Anything You Want”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com

Tell Them Anything You Want is an intriguing documentary focusing on Maurice Sendak, the curmudgeonly children’s author who wrote Where the Wild Things Are. Filmmakers Spike Jonze (who directed the film version of that book) and Lance Bangs have a compelling subject to work with in Tell Them Anything You Want. Viewers don’t have to be fans of Sendak’s books to enjoy this film. As the title implies, the author (who was 81 years old during the making of the documentary) isn’t shy about saying anything–some of which he admits may be made up. Sendak isn’t overly modest about his brilliant and sometimes controversial work. But he still likes to question why the filmmakers are “doing a documentary of a brain-dead person.” Clearly, Sendak is far from brain-dead. Still whip-sharp and witty, he is equally at home cussing up a storm or relaying fantastic stories that should be made into books. At one time, his work was considered inappropriate for kids. But he has always held the theory that children are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for. You can tell them anything, as long as you’re being honest. The documentary includes some shout-outs from A-listers such as Meryl Streep, Catherine Keener, and James Gandolfini. But it’s Sendak himself who is the shining star.

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