Louis Theroux's trademark method of documentary making is to enter the lives of some very odd people, often in the United States, and watch their lives from close up in a disarming manner that is often revealing, but sometimes only exposes a freak show which he probably knew before he started could be observed but never properly understood. But his latest trio of films, 'L.A. Stories', lack any element of sensationalism. In the first, he looks at dog owners, whose tales of attachment to their animals reveals something more about their lives, mostly at the lower end of L.A. society. In the next, he looks at terminal illness, and the extreme (and arguably unjustified) measures the medical system will go to to keep people alive in the face of unpromising odds. And in the last, he looks at sex offenders, some repentant, many in denial, and some certainly still dangerous, but suffering under impossible laws, aimed at preventing them from living pretty much anywhere. One doesn't want to downplay their crimes, but when a teacher is separated from her own children as punishment for sleeping with a pupil, it seems that some sense of perspective is missing; on the other hand, some of those who feature in the film are undoubtedly still dangerous and it's not clear what actions could really protect society beyond terms of imprisonment again disproportional to any single incident. Theroux holds back from personal judgement; but his films make you think, and wonder about the various complexities that define modern life.
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