The 3 Best Documentaries that Mostly Depressed Me

by - Friday, February 06, 2015

 This week The Boy got back to work and I have been trying to work from home while the baby sleeps (mixed bag so far). I hate the quiet, so Netflix has honestly been filling the quiet space while BBG sleeps and eats (because I can only do so much while he eats). I have been on a major documentary kick, so a lot of the week, I have marveled at how many ways you can make an interesting story not so much (or totally about you). On the other hand, I have seen some great ones. You know, the kind that crushes you. Here are my favorites:

1. The Central Park Five-I have actually watched/ read things about this story before; in 1989, 5 young boys (14 to 16) years old were charged for the rape and assault of a white female jogger in Central Park. The five were all convicted based on their confessions, but these confessions were coerced and their stories didn't match. This documentary gets the boys', now men's, perspectives, and the whole story really shows the worst of us as a nation dealing with race and the assumption of crime. They avoid the desire for a happy ending, and instead make us question why the boys assumed guilt got so much attention while their overturned  convictions (despite the fact that they all did their time) got very little (and is still not always believed, which is ridiculous). Th story feels especially poignant in light of the racial tension and conflict in our country these past few months. It makes us remember we haven't come near as far as we should have, perhaps partially because as a nation w are so resistant to admitting we were wrong. This movie is still on my mind, and it's worth watching when you have a chance.

2. Let The Fire Burn- The same day, I watched Let The Fire Burn, about Philidelphia's conflicts with the group Move, and how this conflict famously led the city to bomb its own building, eventually burning down 65 buildings and killing 6 adults and 5 children. Yeah, that happened. Go watch it- I was absolutely shocked that they did it, that they publicly discussed it, and that the people responsible saw very few consequnces. This is what happens when that antagonistic attitude (rather than the call to serve and protect) spirals out of control. This is a shocking one, but it is well-done (though I feel like the ideology of MOVE is left somewhat unexplained).

3. Into the Abyss- Oh Werner Herzog, I bet you are the life of the party. Questioning the death penalty, Herzog tells the story of a triple murder (I think in Texas) and the execution of one of the murderers. It's a compelling story and a freaking sad movie, though I don't know if it serves the purpose he states from the beginning. It does raise questions about class and crime, not to mention just a reminder that life can be really really sad. Well done, but maybe not one to watch if you need an up.

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