Saturday Morning Documentary: Deliver Us From Evil

5 03 2011

Even before I explain that this film is about a Catholic priest who was accused and also confessed to molesting and raping children, the preconceptions of priests has probably already popped up in your mind.  And what a sad thing that is: that we now have this stereotype of priests molesting children.  Amy Berg’s Oscar-nominated Deliver Us From Evil focuses on Father Oliver O’Grady, who molested and raped several children in the 1970s.  While this seems infuriating as it is, we get to hear and see O’Grady confessing to these crimes many years later (this film was made in 2006 so sometime then).  And he speaks with such clarity, with such softness, that we do inexplicably feel some sympathy for him.  He is not a monster.

The film also deals with the Catholic church’s repeated attempts at relocating Father O’Grady in order to cover up the growing scandals and accusations against him.  This is the real infuriating part.  Instead of stripping him of his priesthood and turning him into authorities, the church moves him from town to town, where O’Grady finds himself doing the same things to new victims.

It is easy to point the finger at one person.  But as the film shows, it is harder to point it at an entire organization — one that is clearly corrupted but is somehow able to get away with it.  A gripping, revealing look at a man’s struggle with his demons and the church that refused to let them get out.

Deliver Us From Evil

Saturday Morning Documentary: Street Fight

19 02 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film (ie. last year) but I do remember how I felt about it pretty well.  In 2002 in the town of Newark in New Jersey, Cory Booker runs for mayor, hoping to unseat the longtime mayor Sharpe James.  You’re probably thinking, “So what?  Why should this be notable?  Mayoral elections happen all the time.”   Director Marshall Curry calls it “Street Fight” — as the fight for mayor is taken to the streets of Newark where both parties try to win over individual citizens.

Things are not as they seem, however.  While the film is primarily focused on Cory Booker and his campaign, he does try to film James’ campaign as well, only to get denied time and time again, sometimes meeting violence.  Sharpe James, as the film shows, is manipulative, arrogant, and his supporters seem to be out of control at times.  And since no one seems to be challenging James’ authority or the outrageous stunts he pulls, the street fight escalates, right up until the last vote is counted.

I would rank Street Fight with Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, in terms of how pissed off it leaves audiences feeling (or at least, me).  Despite the amateur look of the film, there is a reason why this was nominated for an Oscar: showing the corruption and true face of American politics.

Street Fight