It’s weird missing a column for me. Since January of 2009 I had hit it every single week, as “Monday Morning Critic” has been the one constant for Inside Pulse Movies. So a lot of friends, family and regular reader were surprised when Monday morning came on January 4, 2016, and there was no column. A long time reader actually emailed me to see what was up; it was shocking because I didn’t even realize I had regular readers. I was doing two things last Monday, actually, that warrant attention.
The first is Mike Noyes and I launched a Kickstarter for our web series, “Confessions of a Superhero.” You can click here to check it out. We have a Facebook page, too, so please like us there as well for all of the updates on both our crowdfunding endeavor as well as updates in the future. If you can please donate to the cause; at a minimum I’d love it if you shared it on social media if you think it’s as good of an idea as I do. If you do help us out feel free to let me know below.
I’ll give a shout out to anyone who contributes because of this column for the next two weeks in this space. If we hit 50% funding this week, which’ll put us at $5,000 towards our goal, I’ll also video tape and release my famous barbecue shredded chicken recipe. This week’s lunch is Mango Chipotle shredded chicken, which you can see on my Instagram.
It’s been a labor of love that I’ve been working on as long as I’ve had this column, crazy enough. It started with an e-mail from him to me; he wanted to workshop an idea he had about a superhero and villain as roommates and was stuck. He needed help and probably expected a glib response in a couple hours. At the time I was unemployed, depressed and in that weird space after the holidays where something either incredibly awful or incredibly amazing could happen. I’d like to think that this was one of them as I read his email and started writing. I looked up and it was 3am CST … and then clicked send.
What he got was 20 pages of dialogue back in an email that apparently smelled like “Monster Energy Drink and weed.”
The other was that I delved into the Netflix phenomenon called Making a Murderer. It had been recommended by a gal I went on a date with; we were both graduates of the same liberal arts college and one of the people interviewed had a sweatshirt of our alma matter on it apparently. So, taking the day off to email everyone I know, I needed something to watch while cranking out 500 e-mails as I launched my half of the crowdfunding campaign that hopefully leads to something good. Mike is in the same boat, emailing and praying like hell as well. I’m not sure what he did to keep the nerves down … but I opted to pop in Making a Murderer and see what the fuss was all about.
Simple premise. The series, exclusively on Netflix, follows the tale of Steve Avery. Avery spent nearly 20 years behind bars for a rape conviction that was later overturned, as he was exonerated in part by the Innocence Project. It’s similar to Kenny Waters, who was freed by his sister and dramatized in Conviction with Hilary Swank. DNA proved he didn’t do it … and then after his release he killed Teresa Halbach.
I don’t say allegedly at this point because he was convicted in a court of law. Thus for our purposes he committed the crime; it’s hard to say allegedly because it’s not like he was merely accused. He was convicted by a jury of his peers and is now serving time for it. But this is where it gets interesting and leads to one question we apparently don’t have the answer to, even after the trial and evidence were presented back then.
Did he do it?
Making a Murderer argues he didn’t, and that he was the innocent victim of a frame up. It’s a compelling case as the filmmakers present this as a case of police corruption, trying to put a man back in prison after he was exonerated once (and won a sizable settlement from them in the process). They didn’t think he was a good man and wanting to put him back behind bars for the rest of his natural life happened. Just watching the show makes you think that this is a great miscarriage of justice. With the narrative being more for accountability towards law enforcement these days it makes sense; the framing of a poor man who the police didn’t like is a narrative easy to sell.
Unfortunately as I kept watching one thing popped into my mind. The one sided nature of it bothered me because this isn’t a look at the whole of the case against Steve Avery, and the exposure of the holes in it. This is “Steve Avery didn’t do it … and we’re going to frame our argument around this, nothing more.”
Others have made the case that the show is absurdly wrong on a lot of counts and I’m not going to say that. I haven’t gone through the evidence, read the transcripts or done any more than most in that I’ve watched the series on Netflix. What I will say is that the show bothered me in that it didn’t try and present the entire narrative of the situation. As someone who loves documentaries, and documentary series, the fact that this was a Michael Moore style “I’m going to take the whole story and narrow down just what makes my story work more effectively, leaving out crucial facts that make it murky” rather than a true examination of the facts.
It had its conclusion before the series was produced and crafted the narrative to fit it … that’s what it feels like, at least.
I don’t know whether or not Steve Avery did what he’s been convicted of. The evidence seems to look like he may have done it, and that perhaps someone planted some evidence to ensure the verdict, but I don’t know. If Making a Murderer had posited this, that the whole situation is so messed up that perhaps a guy who did the crime was set up to make sure he was found guilty, then the narrative is a more interesting one. The ethical dilemma, et al, becomes a more interesting one than the “innocent man found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit” that the series wants to push.
It’s a compelling series on the face … but once you start thinking about outside of the inherent rage that comes up there’s a lot of questions that follow. A lot of them aren’t good for either side.
And now on MMC … we rock out to the “Girl from Mundelein” by Max Fury.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
Norm of the North – Polar bears have to prevent the urbanization of the Arctic, apparently.
Skip it – An animated film dropping in January with little promotion is basically saying “this is awful … but do your kids want to see Star Wars a 20th time?”
Ride Along 2 – Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are back solving crime.
Skip it – The first was interesting on a certain level but the second just looks like someone hasn’t told Hart he can be pass on films.
13 Hours – The true story of the military contractors who saved people during the Benghazi terrorist attack.
See it – This is a major risk for Bay … and is focused on the heroism, not the politics, involved. I’m willing to give him a shot at something like this, mainly because it’s so far out of what we expect that something brilliant could come out.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.