Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jason goes to Doctoberfest--Day 11

On the home stretch, it'll all be over Thursday.

We start with the shorts program A Matter of Body and Mind. A program of personal and somewhat experimental documentary shorts:

VIVID DREAMS: That's one of the possible side effects of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine. The subject (and director's wife) was on it in the Peace Corps, and had to come home because of it. It was also blamed for some soldiers returning from Afghanistan and murdering their wives.

SIMPLY ROB: Elegant and powerful poetry by and about Rob, a black gay man in New York. His terrible past, with meth and AIDS, and how his poetry and spoken performances have turned him around.

DANCING WITH THE MOON: Narrated from a newborn's point of view, a cute animated short telling about his mother's struggle to conceive.

MOTHERSBANE: Reminiscences as a child of a disfigured mother (her legs don't work so well), and as an adult caring for her, overcoming the fear of her surgery scars, and coming to terms with their relationship. Finding there's more strength in insisting on walking rather than resigning to life in a wheelchair, even if it will only break you again.

THE LAYING ON OF HANDS: A comic look at faith healing and karate. Might not be exactly literally true.

CROOKED BEAUTY: A long tone poem about the balance between sanity and creativity. Beautiful images, haunting words...but it dragged on a bit.

Speaking of dragging on a bit, SCENES OF A CRIME. Not the film, it was excellent. But the interrogation in the film--10 hours trying to get a guy to say he killed his baby son. In the words of Nice Guy Eddie, "If you...beat this [person] long enough, he'll tell you he started the [gosh darn] Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it...so!" Okay, so he wasn't physically beaten, but I just needed to put that RESERVOIR DOGS quote in there, and it's still appropriate. Of course, a psychologically coerced confession is still coerced, and this movie makes a pretty strong case that his was. 10 hours of interrogation, 9 hours of proclaiming innocence, 10 hours of police lies, claiming that if he just confesses (with mitigating circumstances) that he'll go free. And then [spoiler alert] 25 to life in prison. Near the end, they do interview two of the jurors, who come off looking rather bad (and at least one looks pretty racist). However, having been on a jury I know that they're shown (and not shown) what is put in front of them, and I trust them to make the best judgement they can based on that. While I, watching the movie, had the psychology of interrogation (i.e., how you can get someone to confess to something he didn't do) explained to me, the jurors didn't get that. I don't know if the jurors were shown the entire 10 hours of video, or if it was edited/excerpted for them. I'm sure I saw a different edit than what they saw. I don't know how the forensic evidence was presented to them (prosecutions' examiner/autopsy concluded the child was abused, based on an incorrect original diagnosis of a fractured skull. Defense experts showed that an infection was the true cause of death). I'm convinced, based on this film, that he's innocent. And there's just so much to be angry about, and so much to take away. I've chosen to take away a little wisdom about interrogation. Going back to Nice Guy Eddie's point, don't trust a "confession" unless it results in new information (i.e., that the interrogator didn't feed him) that can be independently corroborated.

Total Running Time: 167 minutes
My Total Minutes: 253,062
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