A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."
Jean François Heckel,
In the 1980s, ruthless Colombian cocaine barons invaded Miami with a brand of violence unseen in this country since Prohibition-era Chicago - and it put the city on the map. "Cocaine ... See full summary »
Nick Broomfield's second documentary on Aileen Carol Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing seven men in the state of Florida. This second installment includes the filmmaker's testimony at Wournous's trial.
The true-life story of a Harlem's notorious Nicky Barnes, a junkie turned multimillionaire drug-lord, MR. UNTOUCHABLE takes its audience deep inside the heroin industry of the 1970s. The ... See full summary »
Leroy 'Nicky' Barnes,
The War on Drugs has become the longest and most costly war in American history, the question has become, how much more can the country endure? Inspired by the death of four family members ... See full summary »
Set in 1991 on the inner-city streets of Oakland, California, cocaine dealer Charles Cosby has his life changed forever when he writes a fan letter to the "Cocaine Godmother" Griselda ... See full summary »
"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 about Father Oliver O'Grady, a Catholic priest who was relocated to various parishes around the United States during the 1970s in an attempt by the Catholic Church to cover up his rape of dozens of children.
With a first-person look at the notorious Crips and Bloods, this film examines the conditions that have lead to decades of devastating gang violence among young African Americans growing up in South Los Angeles.
In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested in Los Angeles on charges he gave drugs and had sex with a 13-year-old girl he was photographing for Vogue. Eleven months later, having pled guilty to one count, he fled to Europe before sentencing. This film examines that year-long period, using archival footage of the media frenzy and of Polanski's life before the charges, clips from his films, and contemporary interviews with many of the principles - attorneys, the victim, and Polanski's friends and associates. Polanski remains enigmatic, but portraits emerge of the machinations of justice and of a judge more interested in his image than his word or the law. Written by
The handling of the trial seems to be Zenovich's primary focus, rather than Polanski.
Poland has produced great filmmakers such as Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, 1958; Man of Marble, 1977) and Krzysztof Kieslowski (A Short Film About Love, 1988; Three Colors: Red, 1994) whose works address directly issues of war, politics, economic turmoil, and moral unrest that have affected their country since WWII. Their films take a serious, hard-nosed slant, and are mostly well-known only in film scholarship and festival circuits.
The other great Polish film director is Roman Polanski, who completes what I dubbed as the "holy trinity of Polish cinema". He is known as the Polish Hitchcock, with films from his early career dwelling in the genre of horror, thriller, and mystery. He further established himself in America with unforgettable films such as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974). He also became the first Polish filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Director for The Pianist (2002).
The most controversial filmmaker to emerge from Eastern Europe of the last fifty years, not for his films (though some are) but for his widely-documented life story, Polanski is able to divide public opinion of him with just the mere mention of his name. This becomes the pursued theme of Marina Zenovich's documentary feature Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, an above average film that is more informative than entertaining.
I will summarize his life story in one paragraph: A young Polanski escaped the horrors of WWII but the Nazis executed his parents during their brutal reign. He grew up to enjoy fine life, womanizing, and film-making. He was at the height of his career when his pregnant wife was murdered. His life crumbled even further when he was accused of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (who much later publicly forgave him). He pleaded guilty but the trial was not ethically handled by Judge Rittenband. Polanski then fled the US and never came back.
Through my observation, Polanski is not really made the subject of Wanted and Desired. Rather, it is the handling of the trial that seems to be Zenovich's primary focus. In the film, Polanski takes on the character that we are pressured to empathize with. Zenovich portrays him as a tortured person under too much media glare at that time, and his "escape" to France as a fugitive is seen as a liberating one.
Zenovich uses archival footage, and weaves them with interviews with key persons involved in the trial. Much of her film reveals the flawed, publicity-loving personality of Judge Rittenband, the unfair treatment of Polanski by the press, and the circumstances involving Polanski's alleged sexual assault. In an unbalanced way, Wanted and Desired plays too much on the "Wanted" card, whereas the "Desired" part only comes out as such in the final fifteen minutes of the film.
My stand on the Polanski sexual scandal is that no matter the reputation of the accused, he or she should be sentenced accordingly. However, the suspect handling of the trial has raised concerns over the quality and ethicality of the US judiciary system. Polanski was right to flee the US under the circumstances. Now that he is arrested again in Switzerland for that case that goes back to more than three decades, the question to ask is: Is it really still worth pursuing? SCORE: 6.5/10 (www.filmnomenon.blogspot.com) All rights reserved!
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