Screening Room: ‘Strong Island’

One night in April 1992, Yancy Ford’s brother William was shot dead. William was unarmed and black, the man believed to have shot him was white. Charges were never filed. In the documentary Strong Island, Ford excavates the layers of memory, guilt, and anger that covered this family-shattering crime for so many years.

Strong Island premieres on Netflix and in some theaters this Friday. My review is at The Playlist:

There’s an immediacy to Yance Ford’s chilling investigation Strong Island that runs the spectrum from bracing to uncomfortable. Even though Ford comes at the subject sideways, not immediately clueing you into what story is being told, there is nothing remote about how things begin…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Theaters: Franco Behind Bars in ‘True Story’

Jonah Hill and James Franco get at the ‘True Story’ (Fox Searchlight)

 

True_Story_posterIt isn’t every day that you see Jonah Hill and James Franco in a film and neither one of them is mugging up a storm. True Story is a long-gestating true-crime piece opening this week in which Hill plays a reporter and Franco a (maybe) murderer.

My review is at Film Racket:

Between the cold-case podcast Serial and Robert Durst’s wink-wink tease on The Jinx, true crime stories in the did-he-or-didn’t-he vein are having what they call a cultural moment. So it would seem time to tell the real story of journalist Michael Finkel’s borderline disturbing relationship with accused family murderer Christian Longo. If you can do it with movie stars, all the better. But the tentative and moody True Story doesn’t have the synapse-sparking fizz that marks the best true crime stories. It squanders more of the opportunities packed into this tale of worlds colliding than it takes advantage of…

Here is the trailer:

New in Theaters: ‘West of Memphis’

westofmemphis-posterOn Christmas Day, amidst all the other award-hopeful films, one documentary that’s small in budget but massive in scope opens in limited release; it’s well worth seeking out:

Without Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s trilogy of Paradise Lost documentaries, most of the world would never have heard of the West Memphis Three. But when all is said and done, Amy Berg’s impactful film might ultimately stand the test of time as the true document of the case and its hair-raising implications for justice in America…

My full review is at Film Journal International.

The trailer is here: