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Capturing the Friedmans

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Wow. And again. Wow.


Out of the three excellent films I have seen recently (Super-size Me, Sideways and now Capturing the Friedmans) the third is by far the most affecting and cataclysmic piece of film-making.


Set in 1987 in Great Neck, Long Island, this documentary follows the Friedman Family, consisting of father (Arnold), mother (Elaine) and three sons, David, Seth and Jesse.


It all starts peaceful enough with much of the film showing old footage of family holidays, Thanksgivings, etc. Bear in mind this is a family that loves making home movies so much of the film's interviews are spliced with them.


Disaster happens when the police get wind of Arnold's secret stash of child pornography. The sex-unit in the police are alarmed to find out Arnold teaches computer classes in the evening to kids in the nearby community and needless to say the accusations start flying. Whats the most disturbing though is that youngest son Jesse is accused of taking part in the debauchery some of the kids claim took place during the computer classes.


I don't want to say too much more about what happens in the film but bear in mind there are no easy conclusions of innocence or guilt. What this film shows instead is a portrait of a family held together but then torn apart by hatred and guilt. You also get the impression of a community almost enjoying the whole affair because it gives them something in common. Not blameless are the police's sex-unit that come across as very quick to point the finger and desperate to get some kind of conviction


Its very difficult to make any firm conclusions from this film, mainly because we get conflicting stories at every turn. Ultimately, the filmis very sad with the impression that this family was a bomb just waiting to go off.


Its a heart-wrenching and deeply-affecting story, especially with David who harbours an amzing amount of bitterness and hatred towards the police and his mother. This are shown clearly in the interviews with him and a video diary he took it upon himself to make.


This is a hell of a story and I highly recommend it as a piece of film-making. However, I must warn you that it will grip you and not let you go, even after the end credits have rolled. I'm going to watch the 2nd disc of extra tonight so might report later whats on there.


In a nutshell this film is the closest I've gotten to a punch in the stomach. Thats the best way I can describe how it felt to watch it. Wow.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just saw this now.


MLB I agree it's a great fucking flick. I went t'see it in the movies (not knowing what it was about - "American Splendor" was sold out, and that was the only other option) but holy fucking shit was I impressed/sickened.


What a fucking movie. I bought it the day it came out on DVD. Fucked up, but utterly compelling and not quite like anything that I've ever see before.

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but holy fucking shit was I impressed/sickened.


Thats exactly how I felt. There's no winners in the film, only losers. Your a very brave man buying it on DVD, gonna be a while til I watch it again I think.



Damn, passed this one up in San Fran...thought it looked interestin too.

Another one im downloadin soon, good lookin out MLB.


Good for you IC, post a review dude when you can.

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  • 1 year later...



took a while, but i finally caught it - cant say much that wasnt said here before. Its dark, its slightly gut-wrenching to see this family torn apart (specifically, against one another), and thought I thought it was a bit more clear on the guilt part, it did leave room for ambiguity, which didnt make things anymore comfortable.

What's shocking was the matter-of-factly way the sex crimes unit personnel or this one alleged victim would discuss certain instances in detail, almost out of nowhere between other scenes. Youd feel a bit like you were watching a mystery unravel, and then boom, the flick'd drop a disturbing bomb on you and try to move on past it.

Not to go on an LL rant here, but the dysfunction - and id wager, even some of the desires - that existed in this family arent necessarily uncommon, but simply lay dormant without such a catalyst. While i can see why poeple see smoke and assume fire, the child porn being found very early on still didnt leave me expecting all of what was being acused later in the film. Anyway, this one isnt as depressing as, say, Kids, but its not quite a Spongebob flick either.

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