Capturing The Friedmans

So alot of people have been telling me to go see this movie. And I've been getting emails telling me that this movie needs to be seen. Finally I was like, Oy! enough already stop with the hocking already! I'll go look at the Friedmans! Feh! I had no idea what the movie was about other than it was a documentary about a family.  Soon I found out who the Friedmans were. I had seen them before. Years ago this dude Arnold Friedman of Great Neck got arrested for like 10 zillion counts of child molestation. I remember seeing stuff all over the news about him so I was like OH! THAT FRIEDMAN!

Yeah that Friedman and the rest of the Friedman clan. So I settled in to watch this documentary and it was quite the spectacle. It was like... take a hunk of reality. Bake with perversion and dysfunctionality. Sprinkle with emotional detachment and denial. Lay it on a platter of a half-broke legal system. And serve it with an (under)side of humanity. Dig in. Mmm... mmm... uch.

Not sure if this counts as a spoiler but I'll tell you about the story real quick. Arnold the dad was a pedophile. He had a stack of child porn magazines. And an awful sketchy history with children and sex. He sent some through the mail and got busted. The cops came and saw that he ran a computer class for kids like in his basement or whatever. So they started talking to the families of the kids who went to the class. They find out that Arnold's son Jesse was present at the computer classes. And they suspected that the kids were molested in the class by Arnold and Jesse. At this point the facts get hazy. But there's one solid fact. The Friedmans played in the big leagues when it came to dysfunctional families. And for our viewing displeasure they also had some sort of weird need to capture alot of it on video tape. Bonus?

The videotaping in and of itself was weird. Here's the dad of this household. Just got busted for child porn and being a perv. The18 year old son Jesse is accused of the worst possible everything totally. But the camera was rolling inside the house? Capturing their anger for their family being 'framed'. Capturing the mother holding on to nothing by a thread. Capturing them functioning in an insane situation. Capturing a hell of alot but unfortunately not capturing really any good hints to help get at the truth. Of what happened or didn't happen. It stays grey and just gets darker as it goes. And it's heavy. Because of all the children involved.

And as it all unravels, the various angles all angle for your attention- and get it. The personal behind the scenes during a media event/family implosion is new to see. The lack of trust in the legal system is upsetting. The argument that brings out doubt about the accusations against the father and the son is surprisingly strong. The testimonials contradict. The pieces don't fit together neatly. And that's what's sort of interesting about it all. It's a defective jigsaw puzzle or something. The picture isn't clear. None of the pieces seem to go together. It doesn't click. But the feelings this film brings out provides a satisfyingly low wattage emotional swing. And a warped experience in entertainment.

Three Good Things About This Movie

- It definitely brings out emotions and thought in a way a film hasn't done in a long time.
- Capturing the Friedman's is such a good title. Capturing (like on film) Capturing (like arrest). Maybe it was obvious but it didn't hit me till just now.
- It was pieced together nicely and pretty much everyone who was interviewed was interesting in their own way.

Three Bad Things About This Movie

- Some of the video seems oddly staged. Like forced high drama. Especially David's personal video diary. It brought out a different kind of doubt that was hard to pinpoint.
- It was sorta frustrating because I felt that all the Friedmans knew that something had happened.  Even if they didn't realize or believe it.
- It ran a little long and the subject matter got too draining.

All in all I don't really know what else to say about this movie. Cause what do you say? It's a great documentary that covers the chain of events that led to this wrecked family.  The nebbishy pedophile who would ever think that he would... father. The own world wife. The weirdo offspring. The what really happens behind closed doors. The crime. The cops. The media. The trials. The result. And all we're left with to sift through.. in one way or another... the doubt.