Home > Uncategorized > Sunday Screening #22: Capturing the Friedmans

Sunday Screening #22: Capturing the Friedmans

Thank god we have Screeners who are willing to contribute videos to this site or Paul and I would really be in trouble.

Anyway, after dropping the ball last week, we are back with a modern documentary.  I’ve been wanting to see this for a few years, but never got around to it.  I’ve heard it’s one of the best documentaries in recent years, and I certainly hope that’s true.  Add on to that my desire to watch it, and it gets thrust upon all who visit here.  I think there should be a lot of good content to discuss in the ensuing week.

It’s available on Netflix Instant View (yay Wii watching!) and in parts on Youtube.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 26, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    So this one left me cold. It didn’t feel like much more than a 2-hour Dateline NBC segment. I guess the aspect of it that was supposed to be interesting was the fact that the sons claim their father isn’t guilty, but frankly, I don’t think that was so unique that it merited a documentary. The subject matter is painfully tragic and disturbing, but I quickly became bored watching it because I didn’t see much that elevated the material beyond repeatedly focusing on the sordid details. Kind of a one-note documentary. And the brief reunion at the end really did just feel like an afterthought.

    Probably the best thing about it that I can say is that it raises awareness about child sexual abuse. Otherwise, this is probably one of least interesting or compelling documentaries I’ve ever seen. But I’m looking forward to others’ comments; whenever I have a very negative opinion about something, I sometimes get the nagging feeling that I missed some better way of looking at it.

  2. April 26, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    For me, the most interesting aspect is the use of family video footage, especially since the film is kind of a bastardization of the father’s (and sons) desire to be in the spotlight. Here is a family of people who love to entertain, videotaping their efforts, and the only use it has is in a documentary about how the father and a son are sent to prison for raping little boys. I bet they never saw that coming.

    I kind of agree that it was pretty straight forward and I kind of drifted in and out at times, doing other things with my time. I found it interesting that the person that creeped me out the most was the one person who claimed abuse, but was hidden in the shadow but had really weird, reclined posture. I totally would have pegged him as the guilty party.

    Also, the movie kind of sounded like a family of Woody Allen’s yelling at each other, which was kind of annoying, but not really anything they can control.

    I did like the video footage of the family bickering while the father just sat their silently. I would’ve really liked to have been in his head for that.

    Overall, I’m glad a saw it, but it wasn’t really necessary. It certainly didn’t live up to the hype, but I’m definitely higher on it than John.

    • April 27, 2010 at 8:29 AM

      It was interesting how the family seemed to be particularly taken with the use of the home video camera, and I’ll admit that was a rare aspect, affording a unique opportunity to use it in the documentary. But I think the documentary filmmakers just went overboard with it. It was so unpleasant to be subjected to so much footage of people just yelling at each other. I think one effective clip would’ve been sufficient to give us an idea of what was going on.

      The guy in the shadows was pretty creepy. Also, do you ever wonder that, as long as your original voice is being recorded, that it’s pretty easy for people you know or live near you to figure out who you are anyway? I’d imagine that they’d care more about protecting their identity from these people, rather than complete strangers recognizing them in the street, but I could be wrong.

      I kept thinking that the mother sounded like Lois from Family Guy.

  3. April 26, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    I meant to re-watch this film…but got tied up in an Errol Morris marathon instead…and by marathon, I mean that I watched Thin Blue Line, and then fell asleep while watching Gates of Heaven (I had some WEIRD dreams, let me tell you). From what I remember the film isn’t that well put together, and like Jon mentioned it feels like a Dateline piece.

    I’ll try to re-watch it tonight to form more current thoughts of it.

  4. LMM
    April 29, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Hey…finally here.
    Well, I just finished watching it. I don’t want to say I hated it, but I wasn’t impressed.

    I don’t feel compassionate about anyone involved. I felt uncomfortable with the entire family, and am glad it was only 1:45. I, also, kept falling in and out of attention during the story. Though, that was mainly due to the fact that the b-roll shots were annoying and pointless. It was Jarecki’s first film, and you could tell. It was like he read a book on how to make a documentary and followed it step by step. Not that I would know how to do one better, but it wasn’t interesting, it didn’t keep me completely engrossed. I’m more interested stories told on HBO Sports, and I’m not even that big of a sports fan.

    As for the content itself. I’m confused. I definitely think this is a classic disfunctional family, and given the stress of these charges all hell brokes loose, but I never felt sympathy for what they were going through.

    Your childhood can fuck a person up in so many ways. I acknowledge that. However, when they brought up those things in the story (Arnold’s mother with her partners, or the death of Arnold’s sister, or how Elaine wasn’t the best mom and wife), I felt like they were trying to make excuses.
    Maybe you weren’t suppose to pick sides. Maybe you’re not suppose to think of his guilt or innocence, and this documentary was just laying down the facts.

    I don’t fell like the facts were totally laid out for me. The fact that the police basically admitted they coxed the kids into saying things happened, or that these kids don’t have any recollection of things happening years later, or Arnold’s actual admittance to past abuses but not the one he was arrested for, and none of these were examined further really bothered me. I felt I only got half the story. Jarecki should of focused on these elements to have a meater doc instead of flying over trees and the showing the clock in Great Neck multiple times. I know that it mentions that Seth didn’t want to be interviewed, but why. I wanted to know more about this brother. David and Jesse talked about him in past tense, but not present. He also wasn’t in the videos during the trial.
    Which, I might add, were totally unnecessary. Who really does that? Who video tapes family arguments about whether or not the father and child are innocent of child molestation and abuse. Not comfortable. Then again, there wouldn’t be a story without them.
    I guess I feel gipped. I don’t feel like I was presented with the whole story.

    YES, the guy in the shadows, half laying down was creepy as hell. David was also a bit creepy to me, as well. Especially since he works as a clown for kids birthday parties. That doesn’t sit well with me at all.

    Again, I don’t want to say that I hated it. I was interested in finishing the story, but I don’t fell I got the whole story and that makes me mad. I don’t see why it got so much press. Maybe it was based purely on the fact that real footage was used. Either way, I didn’t feel I got the whole story, and I want to know more.

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