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Dishonest director with an agenda, nothing more.
I live in Londonderry, New Hampshire, walking distance to where this entire Pamela Smart saga occurred. I also collect documentaries and have been a student of the genre for many years. In both areas of knowledge, this "documentary" is breathtakingly bad: it is a distortion of the evidentiary facts of the Smart case and it is an amateurish production concocted by a director hell-bent on convincing the gullible that Pamela Smart is innocent.
Was the Smart case a big media story here in little New Hampshire? Of course it was. But is this the reason Pamela Smart was found guilty? Hell, no. Pamela Smart convicted Pamela Smart: her entire "defense" was that she didn't sexually manipulate the child student of hers, Flynn, into killing her husband, and that she didn't even know about it until afterwards. 25 years later, this director is trying to get us to buy the same story.
Unfortunately for him, reasonable people who listen to the secret tape recordings of Smart made prior to her arrest, come to the same conclusion the reasonable people of her jury came to: this "defense" is a ridiculous lie. But why let facts get in the way of a good story, right? Except that this HBO piece is not a good story, it's an example of the worst of propaganda films: twist and contort the facts, aggrandize speculation and minor details, hide or discount the facts that don't fit in with your agenda. This director's agenda is to elevate Pamela Smart to the status of a wrongly-convicted heroine. This is absurd to those who actually know the case. Gregg Smart was an innocent 24-year-old who has spent the last 25 years in the cold ground of East Derry Cemetery, put there by pedophile Pamela Smart and the boys she so clearly manipulated to kill him (for the life insurance money she would get). Giving this cretin any voice to spew her long-ago-disproved lies is bordering on evil, in my opinion.
Instead of wasting your time with this ridiculous propaganda film, read the transcripts of the tape recordings Smart's attorneys desperately tried to prevent the jury from hearing (available online). You will be stunned, her guilt is so obvious. Media coverage had nothing to do with Smart's conviction: every juror said the same thing: it was the tapes.
As Smart herself puts it in one of the tapes, as she's trying to prevent her intern from cooperating with police, "If you tell the truth you're gonna have to send Bill, you're gonna have to send Pete, you're gonna have to send J.R. and you're gonna have to send me to the (expletive) slammer for the rest of our entire life,". You have to be a special kind of stupid to believe the new "truth" that she had nothing to do with it and is an innocent heroine convicted because of media coverage. It is simply absurd. This "director" is just an amateur who made one previous short film about his own father, nothing more; he is desperate to find material, apparently. Don't be sucked in by his distortions and spin: read the transcripts instead.
I'll leave you with some other parts of the police transcripts of Smart's statements to Cecilia Pierce and you decide if there's a snowball's chance in hell of her being innocent:
"I'm afraid one day you're gonna come in here and you're gonna be wired by the (expletive) police and I'm gonna be busted,"
(Busted? But I thought you were innocent, Pam.)
On the subject of Ralph Welch, another high school kid, who one of her accomplices told about the murder:
"Nothing was going wrong until (expletive) they told Ralph. . . . It's their (expletive)faults . . . that they told Ralph, you know,"
Later, when her arrest seemed imminent: "I don't know what the hell's going'on ... All I know is that, uh, pretty soon J.R. is probably gonna roll."
(Why would an innocent person care if one of the murderers would "roll" and tell the police everything?)
Smart was hoping that the court would deem as juveniles the 15-year-olds she sent to kill her husband so that they wouldn't turn on her:
"You know, if they get certified as juveniles, then nobody will ever know anything, and they'll all be out in a year, you know, when they turn 18. ..."
(What does innocent Pam mean by "ever know anything"?)
She then tells Pierce her plan if the kids are certified as adults:
Pierce: "He's going to say that you knew about it before it happened, which is the truth." (if J.R. does "roll")
Smart: "Right, ... Well, so then I'll have to say, 'No, I didn't' and then they're either gonna believe me or they are gonna believe J.R.-sixteen-years-old-in-the-slammer. And then who (will they believe)? Me, with a professional reputation, and of course that I teach. You know, that's the thing. They are going to believe me."
NONE OF THESE QUOTES are even MENTIONED in this "documentary". All this dishonest director does is try to make the viewer think that that the tapes are corrupted and should be IGNORED because of ....let's see...'quality issues' and 'inaudible parts'. Oh, and if you don't buy that because the AUDIBLE parts incriminate Smart so absolutely, then Smart was simply PRETENDING to be involved in the murder, conducting her 'own investigation' into her husband's brutal death. Really? That's the best you can do?
Pamela Smart is absolutely guilty and should rot in prison for the rest of her miserable life. Do not get caught up in this film's web of lies wherein Smart is an innocent heroine and the boys she corrupted and doomed are to blame for her imprisonment. That is a concocted fairy tale.
Lemon La Vida Loca (2012)
Promising start, mediocre after that
I absolutely love Leigh Francis. "Keith Lemon" may someday rank up there with Dame Edna for alter egos more famous than the comedians who invented them. If you haven't seen "Celebrity Juice", you've missed out on life: absolutely hilarious. Then came "Lemon Aid" this year. Not so good, but not that bad. Then I heard of this new series and wondered if Leigh - or Keith - was stretching himself too thin.
On second thought, it seemed a brilliant idea: the oddity of Celebrity Juice is that it is a game show ('panel show' in the UK) with everything real except the raunchy, flamboyantly heterosexual - i.e., sexist - host, Keith Lemon. This way, "Keith" can do and say anything - things Leigh Francis would be crucified for. Brilliant set-up. So, we wonder, what WOULD Keith Lemon be like in real life? Actually, it's a clever premise.
The first episode was very good and I had high hopes for the rest of the series. Second episode okay. Third, which I saw last night, pretty bad. The plot lines which will continue (according to the 'next episode' trailer) make me groan, especially the personal trainer and Keith's girlfriend subplot. The over-the-top silliness which is the world of Keith Lemon is devolving into mediocre melodrama with a few silly bits thrown in. Too bad.
Well, at least Celebrity Juice is still going strong. "Keith" may want to stick to that.
Four Lions (2010)
Could have been very, very good but fatal flaws
It's an odd film in that we get caught up in it's fast-paced, very funny plot line, with its engaging characters, but it all leads to an unacceptable conclusion; rather like a new delicious cocktail with an awful aftertaste.
I think the writers tried to save the film in the end - Omar and Waj realizing what they are doing is just wrong - but they still have Omar blow up a chemist's and kill innocent people, as if he were doing an "honorable" thing after the death of Waj. And it is this casualness with taking innocent lives which leaves such a bad aftertaste for the viewer (of what is supposed to be a comedy). It's just unacceptable. Especially in the character of Omar's beautiful wife: she seems to think that killing innocents is not only perfectly okay, she instills this in her young child. The writers are actually trying to portray the wife as a sympathetic, likable character. No, I don't think so.
Aside from this casualness with murder, we have every single police officer portrayed as an incompetent idiot, which is, no doubt, a gimmick to shield the filmmakers from anti-Islam bias ("see, we made the cops look like idiots too!"). Other gimmicky aspects include the rocket launcher "mistake" (did anyone watching this film NOT know that they were going to aim the launcher the wrong way?) and the entire sequence of the police raid of the wrong house - a complete, utter rip-off of 'Silence of the Lambs'.
This could have been really good - without these flaws. The Barry character is great and the others are very good. The humor is excellent. However, it's pretty much impossible to make the terrorist murder of innocent people a funny subject. It shouldn't even be tried.