Despite being far from household names, the Joe Berlinger/Bruce Sinofsky directing partnership has produced a series of consistently great documentaries over the years. Their most recent feature length DVD release, the fantastic Metallica: Some kind of monster sees a slight departure from the legal battles and small town scope of their previous films, but it's perhaps not as big a jump as you might think.
Many of their films were produced for TV by HBO and it seems the 'capture everything, edit later' ethos gives these films their character. For example, revelations implied in the nuances of body language during an impromptu street interview. Long bumbling monologues offering insight into characters you might else only see in the courtroom. These are the scenes that make all the difference. This comprehensive approach becomes immersive before a profound sense of powerlessness washes you up on shore, as the credits roll.
A quick peek at other upcoming projects reveals the possibility of some closure on what would be one of the great crime stories captured in film with the Paradise Lost series as well as the should-be-on-dvd-soon title Crude. Here's what you may have missed.
Brother's Keeper (1992)
Hicksville has always been a rich seam for mining documentaries and this one gets in so deep it requires subtitles. When one of a family of farming brothers is found dead, the autopsy is inconclusive. The following shake up takes the simple working mans perspective as the big city attorneys try to place the blame. Sad, heartfelt, small but quite perfectly formed.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
My favourite and surely one of the most shocking of true crime documentaries. The film that spawned a whole movement in defense of the 'West Memphis 3'. Three teenagers stand accused when three young children are found dead and mutilated in the local woods. The only problem is that there seems to be no evidence. However, little things like that won't stop the rolling wheels of US justice!
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000)
The very existence of this film implies the lack of a satisfying verdict in the first Paradise Lost. Never have I rushed to see a sequel as I did for this. A progressive continuation on the same case, new evidence comes to light and suspicions on other suspects are reinforced. What a mind melter this case is. This is a long film and finds no true closure. Paradise Lost 3 now in Post-production. All of this makes you wonder about all the thousands of other cases we didn't get to hear about.
Gray Matter (2004)
This one reaches back in time to when the Nazi eugenics program manifested in the most horrific of ways as a children's 'treatment centre'. This film visits today's legacy as the families of those involved finally lay them all to rest. Short, sad but an important story to tell.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
The biggest scariest band of them all sits down with their shrink and tell him how things are getting so 'heavy'. Priceless, even if you're not a fan. In fact, especially if you're not.