Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011)

Directors: Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky

Starring: The same folks from the first two films.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The complete inside story of the West Memphis Three.

Plot: A further investigation into the arrest of three teenagers convicted of killing three young boys in Arkansas who spent nearly 20 years in prison before being released after new DNA evidence indicated they may be innocent.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

I don't have cable and I don't watch TV but I was visiting a friend who does and we noticed HBO was showing the 2nd film and then the third and final documentary about the West Memphis 3. I have no clue why they failed to include the first (and best) film of the series despite the abundance of viewings for the other two that weekend. Anyway, this one is the weakest of the bunch but not without interest. If you've seen the others (or only the first one) then you'll want to give it a spin.

The problem with this one (and the second one for that matter) is that it spends a good deal of time bringing you up to speed on the events surrounding the murders and the subsequent investigation, trials and appeals. The first film did a great job of covering that. The other problem (and this, too, applies to the second picture) is the introduction of possible theories as to who the killer might be without going into too much detail. The film makers cast doubt on someone only to move on a couple of minutes later. I want to hear more about the evidence supporting such theories, that's all.

Mark Byers, the stepfather of one of the slain boys, is the most entertaining subject in all three films. He's hilarious, pathetic and sad. There's a nice moment where he turns a 180 in his beliefs that the boys are guilty and publicly apologizes for it. One of the boys, in turn, writes him a letter thanking him for it and adds that he no longer believes that Byers could be the true killer. I would pay to see a film that was nothing more than a compilation of all of his scenes from all three films. He's THAT entertaining. This guy needs his own reality show.

After a back-to-back two-fer of the second and third film a few nights ago I really don't see myself reviting them although I am keen to watch the first film again. It's nice to know that the boys are out of prison and it's a sad state of affairs that they were put there to begin with. I see that Peter Jackson had taken a keen interest in the case (as have a lot of folks in the film industry) and he has his own documentary in the works. I'm looking forward to seeing someone else's take on this most interesting story.

UPDATE: I just noticed this was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. You have GOT to be fucking kidding me. It's the emotional vote. I'll say it again, I really appreciate how these films helped free these boys. All the praise in the world can't top that but to say this is up there among the best? Five bucks says it wins.

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