Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In ... See full summary »
Explosive developments - implicating both the forensics laboratory of the police department of North Carolina, and Duane Deaver, its chief - recently saw the convicted subject of 'The ... See full summary »
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not... See full summary »
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
In the quiet suburb of Cheshire, Connecticut, Jennifer Petit and her two young daughters were killed in a horrific home invasion; husband and father William Petit was the only one who ... See full summary »
A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
The accident made national headlines: a suburban mother drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in upstate New York and crashed head-on into an SUV, killing herself and seven others. In ... See full summary »
On May 7, 2000, in the parking lot of the Ramada Inn in Jacksonville, Florida, 65-year-old Mary Ann Stephens is shot in the head before her husband's eyes. Ninety minutes later, 15-year-old Brenton Butler is arrested. For the investigators and the media it's just another messed-up youth, just another wasted life. Written by
The subtext which usually emerges when simplicity is avoided in the telling of a morality tale is that good and evil are actually arbitrary. The fresh and shocking impact of this film is that the contrast between good and evil is sharp and clear. So rarely do we see that contrast today that we feel revived from moral slumber, even if momentarily. That's the essence of great storytelling.
Had this documentary told a tale which took place in 1965, I would have thought the film's straightfaced, understated delivery to be somewhat unengaging. However, the fact that the story takes place in 2000 and within our modern police system, it makes for a devastating revelation. The characters are archetypal, as emblemanic as the point being made. Racism, indolence and ineptitude rarely find a stage where they can be observed so pure. We also rarely get the opportunity to watch good people shake the system into behaving the way it should. This film should not be criticized for it's simplicity of point and of it's characters - if anything, we should be thankful that such characters exist and have endured this ordeal. It is a necessary and important distillation of where we still are as a nation - powerfully principled yet terribly flawed. The film is one-sided, as it should be (innocent until proven guilty), and it is deeply moving.
To classify this film as a "northern liberal's wet dream" (as one online reviewer has unfairly done) is to engage the cynicism which habitually complicates and frustrates communication of basic ideas; it smacks of neo-Hollywood. The undergraduate writer's urge to dilute good with poison and draw virtue from evil is not always evidence of genuine profundity. More often than not, it's simply cloudy and ill-defined values.
36 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?