I saw it last night at the Century in Chicago and found it to be a pretty compelling documentary that's really heartbreaking at times. Such an odd, dysfunctional family -- the 3 spazzy sons excluding their mother and often berating her at the dinner table and elsewhere; the quiet, distant pedophile father; the history of abuse going back to the father's youth. As for the 'truth' of the matter, I ended up believing it was somewhere between the denials of the father & youngest son and what the prosecutors were saying, but who knows. Andrew Jarecki does a nice job of balancing the story out, leaving the viewer to decide what really happened.
Of course, the film would not be what it is without the various audio and video tapes of the family taken by the father and oldest son. That scene where David breaks down in his 'confessional' tape was buh-rutal, especially.
― Baked Bean Teeth (Baked Bean Teeth), Thursday, 5 June 2003 16:23 (seventeen years ago) link
― s1utsky (slutsky), Thursday, 5 June 2003 16:33 (seventeen years ago) link
― cozen (Cozen), Sunday, 11 April 2004 12:50 (sixteen years ago) link
interesting film for a lawyer, of course; (the pull and play of courtroom narrative, 'I knew he was guilty from the off' etc.)
I'm intrigued by the role of the young female child ballet dancer in modern american film-making: first 'welcome to the dollhouse' then 'julien donkey-boy' now this. does it mean anything?
(in this, incidentally, I think it's a dream of what was lost: a recovered memory of the families all-but-depleted residual 'innocence'.)
also: the touch at the end where the camera cuts away from the shots its been showing of friedman's brother and then cuts back to a wider shot showing his gay lover, wtf! was that meant as a comic pseudo-[hinted at]-determinism touch?
― cozen (Cozen), Sunday, 11 April 2004 12:55 (sixteen years ago) link
I also felt like the bond between the brothers and their father, their relationship, was obviously strong but seemed to require or only exist in a superficial form. See: their constant need to be performing while being recorded on tape and film. Were I to be all Freudian in examining their possible dysfunction, they seem to put up quite a front of happiness i.e. their need to perform really magnifies the tip of the ice-berg. Makes you think they could very easily absorb lies into their family and continue functioning/performing, and that perhaps they try so hard to have fun because were they to stop making silly jokes for 5 minutes, the ensuing silence would be horrible.
― bnw (bnw), Sunday, 11 April 2004 15:10 (sixteen years ago) link
I thought the same thing, and I think it's true of a lot of people (esp. here in New York): Some people can never stop talking and doing and being manic and schticky, because if they do they'll go crazy and explode.
― stockholm cindy (Jody Beth Rosen), Sunday, 11 April 2004 15:44 (sixteen years ago) link
― stockholm cindy (Jody Beth Rosen), Sunday, 11 April 2004 15:46 (sixteen years ago) link
― cozen (Cozen), Sunday, 11 April 2004 15:47 (sixteen years ago) link
― Pete (Pete), Sunday, 11 April 2004 16:03 (sixteen years ago) link
― Robbie Lumsden (Wallace Stevens HQ), Sunday, 11 April 2004 16:32 (sixteen years ago) link
I think the bond between the father and sons....well, did no one else suspect that it was sexual in the first place, too?
― Vic (Vic), Sunday, 5 September 2004 00:15 (sixteen years ago) link
― Vic (Vic), Sunday, 5 September 2004 00:36 (sixteen years ago) link
as far as 'clarity' goes it seems uh clear that SOME horrible shit was done, but not nearly of the degree for which he was convicted. wierdly, i'd read about the son who was a clown years before.
― g--ff (gcannon), Sunday, 5 September 2004 05:35 (sixteen years ago) link
― Madchen (Madchen), Sunday, 5 September 2004 20:09 (sixteen years ago) link
watching this last night made me sort of re-assess the whole sandusky thing
My conclusions: Jesse's lawyer seems like a lying shitbag. Arnie was clearly guilty, by his own admission, of pedophilia, but not the particular crimes he was actually convicted of - whether or not that's justice, eh I dunno.
― Full Frontal Newtity (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 1 February 2012 17:44 (eight years ago) link
Saw this for the first time today. I had a copy for a long time, but I couldn't watch it. I dunno...I needed to work up to sitting down with a movie like that.
David interests me the most of all of them more for his viciousness towards his mother than anything. Like it's an extreme position he's built as a counterbalance of what he knows about his father? Or more? I dunno. The family dynamic, such as was shown, was really interesting because they lived SO much through the camera already, they were so used to performing already, maybe the vehement mother hatred is a performance too. What *isn't* a performance in that family, with those sons?
I was also weirdly reminded of my childhood...had a pretty rocky, dysfunctional period through my teens at home that was pretty fucking crazy at times. And yet every Christmas, we would all get together and play and laugh and put on a 'hey it's christmas be happy' show for each other, as if that was the only thing that would stop us from seeing what we'd become. That if we could just keep recreating our childhood, everything would be ok.
Also I found this on the Wikipedia page which may explain more of the movie's deliberately ambiguous tone: It has since emerged that Jarecki funded Jesse Friedman's appeal. Writing for The Village Voice, Debbie Nathan — who was hired by Jarecki as a consultant after having been interviewed for the film — wrote of Jarecki, "Polling viewers at Sundance in January, he was struck by how they were split over Arnold and Jesse's guilt. Since then, he's crafted a marketing strategy based on ambiguity, and during Q&As and interviews, he has studiously avoided taking a stand
― set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 17 October 2012 23:54 (seven years ago) link
1 of my all-time favs. i would say i've thought a lot abt why it's particularly so compelling and yeah, the ambiguity, combined with so much damn footage of everything are really important imo.
the 1 minute of david's "video diary" near the very beginning is SO FUCKING AMAZING
i think in the commentary or somewhere jarecki talks abt the dinner footage i think from the night before the father is taking the plea being a 2 hr unbroken tape and that it basically was dramatic enough to be releaseable as a film itself
― johnny crunch, Thursday, 18 October 2012 00:18 (seven years ago) link
that dinner footage was off the chain.
― set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 18 October 2012 03:12 (seven years ago) link
I was on the edge of my seat for this entire movie. Even though it is just a clip show.
― Jeff, Thursday, 18 October 2012 03:21 (seven years ago) link
Finally saw this since the Sup Doc podcast got around to it on today's episode (haven't heard it yet, obv.) Boy that was a watch, to put it glibly. I found myself thinking more about how it reads in an era where the police are more suspect than ever, while new hysterias rise in turn, while still noting that central awfulness in the family's experiences themselves. I gather there were attempts by Jesse to clear his name up through 2015 but maybe nothing more since. (And Seth's -- I suppose continued? -- silence has a certain...I don't know if 'dignity' is a good word or not, it seems very wrong to say that.) But also I thought about how some of those lines about their intrafamily dynamics in general remind me of things I've heard from people I know well about their own upbringings, an experience I'm glad I don't have.
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 15 September 2020 00:39 (one week ago) link
I haven't seen this in years, but what Madchen said above resonated with me-- I resented the film, resented everything about the experience, tbh. I remember chain-smoking a lot after I finished watching it.
― healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 01:39 (one week ago) link