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.
WHO TOOK JOHNNY is an examination into an infamous thirty-year-old cold case: the disappearance of Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch, the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. The film ... 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.
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Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
In 1993, a horrific triple child murder was discovered in West Memphis, Arkansas, but the reaction to it precipitated a horror of its own. This film follows up on the story of the three boys, called the West Memphis Three, who were convicted for this crime with questionable evidence. For years, the boys' fate sparked a mass movement striving to prove their innocence while the state is equally determined to avoid admitting it could have been wrong. Through the swirl of new evidence and suspects, the Three tell their own tale about enduring this injustice against the opinions of the victim's families in a debate that eventually came to an inadequate resolution.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Todd and Dana Moore, the parents of 8 year-old victim Michael, wrote a letter to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences asking that the film be removed from consideration. In the letter they said that the film glorifies Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. Director Joe Berlinger had in fact acknowledged during an interview with salon.com that he determined Echols was innocent after speaking with him for five minutes prior to the trial. Despite the Moore's request(or perhaps because of it) the film was nominated for Best Documentary, Features for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. It lost to Undefeated (2011). See more »
Damien Wayne Echols:
If I focused on the things I can't change, the things that have hurt me, what people have done to me, then they would have already broken me. They would have killed me inside and out. I can get up in the morning and I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't hate my life. You have a lot of people in here that all they can think about is what they don't have and how much they want out and how much they want something else. But for some reason, this situation has helped me to see more of what I do ...
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The directors said that audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011 would be the only audiences to see the film in that version. The reason is that events which took place the previous month necessitated a new ending to the film. See more »
The third installment of this documentary continues to explore the ever-changing case and testimony of three convicts who were convicted as teenagers in the brutal killing of three young boys in Arkansas. Due to the dedication and research of filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky ( and recent DNA evidence ), the case was overturned and the three man were set free after nearly twenty years of incarceration.
Some background exposition: Known as the Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelly, and Jason Baldwin were three wild teenagers back in 1994. The town and jury all but convicted them by their Goth appearance and love of heavy metal music. Questionable witnesses and a shaky confession obtained by police from one of accused sent them to prison.
Berlinger and Sinosky persevered, as did others who feel that the verdict was unjust. Thus, their first documentary, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations kept the story and the hopes of the Memphis Three alive. This final chapter, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, brings this sad tale to a close.
While the film uses newsreel footage of the crime and court testimony, plus endless interviews with the accused killers and family members and townsfolk, the documentary tries to remain objective, but never really does achieve that status. The film presents allegations of jury misconduct and uncovered DNA samples that can link a family member to the crime, but it never investigates those findings with much clarity. ( The film also could have been more effective if it included more of the aftermath once Echols, Misskelly, and Baldwin were released, observing their individual choices once freed. )
Still, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory does show the power of the documentary genre and the diligent efforts of the filmmakers to make a difference in the outcome of injustice. The tragic events that grew out of this heinous crime still linger with the families. ( One of the parents of the murdered boys asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to remove the documentary from consideration as they say the film glorifies their son's killers. The film remained in competition and is nominated for Best Documentary. ) Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory will linger with you too. GRADE: B
NOTE: Visit my movie blog for more reviews: www.dearmoviegoer.com
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