Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop (2015) Poster

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Very interesting court documentary
room10223 July 2016
Gilberto Valle, a New York cop, is a member on a website dealing with sexual fetishes. Together with two other guys they talk about his plans to kidnap 24 women, roast them and eat them. He also makes preparations. But at the same time they all specifically say that it's pure fantasy and none of them actually mean that. The place where he says he has a big oven is actually a basement with laundry machines. He is trialed for conspiracy (not attempt, which is totally different).

Where is the limit between fantasy and actual intent to commit a crime? Can you judge someone based only on his deviant thoughts? Why is it OK for a writer such as Stephen King to write horrible stories about murders, but not for a "regular" guy to have fantasies? This is a very unusual case and a very interesting documentary.

If you're interested to know what happened with the trial after the documentary, you can read about it on Wikipedia.

Highly recommended
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Fare Tonight With Increasing Clottiness.
rmax30482330 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A documentary about a case in 2011. Gil Valle, a young police officer in New York City, is an apparently happy man with a wife and child, but he develops a habit of getting on the internet, logging into an S&M site, and discussing with others his fantasies about kidnapping, torturing, raping, killing, cooking, and eating some of the girls he knows.

He never really DOES anything that would indicate he's moving ahead with his plans. He illegally looks up data on some of the girls on a police data base. He and his family make a weekend visit to one of the victims he's described -- "My mouth waters", he tells an internet buddy -- but he doesn't buy the duct tape, build the oven, or do any of the other things he writes that he's done.

Did he commit a crime? "Yes," according to the jury; "No", according to the courts. He's convicted of conspiracy to murder, spends 17 months in jail, and is then freed. His wife has left him and he now has trouble finding dates on a web dating site.

To be guilty of conspiracy he must have made an overt act. But what is an "overt act"? He described precisely what he would do on the internet. Is that an overt act in itself? Gil gets to explain his side of the story at length, and his mother, with whom he now lives, is supportive to say the least. And the talking heads -- lawyers, psychologists, and activists -- have their say. I forget who it was who said, "For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert." The film itself is edited with irony, in such a way as to make us gawk at Gil. "I'd like to take bacon strips out of her belly," writes Gil. Cut to Gil innocently frying several slices of bacon at home.

As with so many other social problems, some sort of balance is required. Gil's mind is a olla podrida, no doubt, but is he a criminal because of what he's been thinking? Call the thought police.

The best comment is from one expert who says that science isn't very good at predicting individual behavior. (He is so right.) But he wouldn't be shocked if Gil wound up in jail again. "We don't choose what arouses us," yes, but there are as yet unknown neural pathways involved. At this point it's guesswork. The answer probably won't lie in simple-minded explanations like child abuse but in further explorations in the field of neuroscience.

An astrophysicist put the conundrum well: "The most important discoveries will provide answers to questions that we do not yet know how to ask and will concern objects we have not yet imagined."
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Don't Go Messing Around On The Internet
Theo Robertson17 May 2015
In October 2012 a NYC policeman called Gilberto Valle was arrested and charged with planning to abduct to kidnap , murder and eat young women . Later convicted the verdict was later overturned and this documentary called THOUGHT CRIMES tells the bizarre Valle story and asks when should discussing something on the internet be treated as a planned crime in the real world

An interesting documentary from Erin Lee Carr but perhaps not as interesting as it could have been . You see the point it's bringing to our attention - when does the internet world enter the real world ? The problem is we now live in the internet age and you can't blame the state for thinking what someone writes in a forum is what they're planning to do in real life . Let's be honest here - there's no such thing as privacy on the internet . You open an account on Facebook you're inviting potentially hundreds of millions of people to spy on you . You've had a terrible time with airport security and mention on a Twitter account that you hope someone bombs the airport you can't really complain if you get a visit from the police . An let's not forget the excuses from TO CATCH A PREDATOR and the British equivilents by Stinson Hunter and Letzgo Hunting where potential predators whine they were in an 18 plus chat room and they didn't believe someone claiming to be under the age was consent was an actual schoolgirl

This is the problem with THOUGHT CRIMES Valle can claim he wasn't going to abduct and murder women he knew but the thing is he did break several codes of conduct . One very important thing Laurie Penny points out is that he accessed a police computer database to get information on women he knew . It's strange that an American documentary feels the need to ask a Brit like Penny for her worthless opinion but she is right in what she's saying and when I'm agreeing her that might tell you something . THOUGHT CRIMES does open a can of worms of sorts but it constantly reminded of what one of the blokes caught on TO CATCH A PREDATOR said "Don't go messing around on the internet because it might really get you in to trouble" . Never a truer word spoken
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When does one cross the line between (free) thought and (punishable) action?
paul-allaer14 July 2019
"Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop" (2015 release; 88 min.) is a documentary about NY cop Gilberto Valle. As the movie opens, we see Valle participating in a chatroom, having "ugly thoughts" about what he'd to to certain women. We then go back in time as we get to know Valle, a New York cop with a lovely wife and young daughter. When his wife discovers (through spyware) what Valle has been doing while on the computer, she contacts the police, and Valle is arrested for conspiring to kidnap. Did Valle cross the lien between free thought and punishable action? At this point we are 10 min. into the documentary, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this was the first feature-length documentary from producer-director Erin Lee Carr. I recently watch her more recent work (2017's Mommy Dead and Dearest, and this year's outstanding At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal and equally riveting I Love You, Now Die), which establish Carr as one of the country's best documentarians, period. For her debut feature-length, Carr looks at the infamous "Cannibal Cop" case, which presents a tough legal issue: where does one cross the blurry line between free thoughts (you can literally think the most ugly and repulsive thoughts as long as you don't act on it) and punishable actions. It appears that many reviewers here (and of course the jury) are not able to look beyond the ugly and disgusting thoughts of this despicable man. The theme of "thought police" have been explored before, including in "1984" and Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report", but it's once thing to see it in a fictional setting, it is quite another to be confronted with an actual real life scenario. Please note that since this documentary was released in May, 2015,, the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled on the appeal in December of that year (not going to spoil it, but you can easily look up the court's ruling).

Bottom line: this is not an easy documentary to watch because of the underlying disturbing nature. But it would establish Carr as an up-and-coming true crime documentarian, and her reputation has only grown with subsequent documentaries she has made. Meanwhile, I'd readily suggest you check out "Thought Crimes", be it on VOD or on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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The difference between fantasy and reality
rickss-6846616 July 2019
This is an an excellent documentary. I write with 25 years of experience using the internet and using sites such as the one featured in this documentary as well as very similar sites that exist. Now first and foremost I never had any intentions of committing a crime nor did I. Certainly murder was never in play, however extreme BDSM was, and that it be agreeable between both parties. In that time period, I have dealt with over 1000 people, and out of it, I met maybe 100 and out of that 2 permanent relationships transpired . So essentially 99.999 percent of anyone I ever dealt with was fake and it was just a fantasy. Essentially the two permanent relationships never lasted because the conditions were too extreme, with me implementing about a tenth of what was agreed too. So this notion that what happens on the dark web in the form of fetishism and sexuality has anything to do with actual real life or real actions is beyond ridiculous. There is talk in the film of this being about looking at sex as shameful, and there is some truth in that, there is a shame that comes at least from either side involving anything that involves sexual fetishism. In the end I can see this man losing his position as a police officer but as far as actual jail time, considering that the majority of anyone on these sites is purely fantasizing is beyond preponderance.
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