Over the past week I have watched two documentaries one will probably receive an Academy award nomination, the other will not. The docs in question are O.J. Made in America and Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
O.J Made in America
dir. Ezra Edelman – 463 min – 2016 – 5.77
WARNING: There is some very graphic imagery, description of spousal abuse and images of hate crimes in this film
For those unfamiliar with the story of OJ Simpson I am surprised you are reading this because you have likely never seen the internet before or turned on a television. OJ Simpson is one of the greatest football players ever to play the game and one of the most notorious celebrities to crumble from grace. The murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman shaped the America that we know today. 24 hour news existed before the crime but blossomed after.
Made in America is the documentary which will likely be nominated for an Academy Award. This would not surprise me as it was very well made. I would hazard to guess Ezra Edelman executed his vision exactly as he had intended. For a seven and a half hour film it was, for the most part, very engaging.
However, it seemed about an hour too long. I am not suggesting that any piece or part could be cut out. Each clip served the story. But I think tightening it up a little here and there could solve that problem. The issue, I believe, is the final act as several new characters are introduced and my attention started to wane. That said with the final act I feel like Edelman perfectly stuck the landing. So maybe I am wrong. The other issue, which tanked the my score, is that I will never watch this again. It is too much of a time investment.
One of the overarching strengths of the piece though is the thorough presentation of the racial tension in Los Angeles between the 1960’s and the 90’s. There is a good about if information which will help people to better understand race in America. Is it worth your time, once? Absolutely. Personally I would rather watch the American Crime Story version which is a bit more gripping.
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
I am afraid that the only reason this will be reviewed highly is because of the sudden deaths of both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. This film will likely go down into the annals of film history as a cult film for fans of either lady as there is little that will appeal beyond the die hard fans. I am one of them so this may be biased, but I will try not to be.
This film rings of a reality show pilot. On a personal level I am not sure I could say anything with more venom. I love it though. I loved seeing my General and Princess smoking and cussing up a storm. It makes me love her more. I would have been nice to see the two of them alive for the wide release but, alas, we will not have another chance to impress up them our admiration. And that is too bad.
Debbie Reynolds did not have the same effect on my life as did her daughter but I am glad I was able to get to know her. While it would be difficult to find someone who was not touched by Carrie Fisher I do know that people have struggled seeing her age. She didn’t give a shit (her words, not mine but I don’t either). That was one of the more important features of Ms. Fisher. I will miss her greatly.