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On the DVD:Like the film itself, the bonus disc that accompanies Capturing the Friedmans asks a lot of questions, offers a few pertinent answers, and leaves a legacy of mystery in a case that many never be fully solved. What really happened in the basement of the Friedman home in Great Neck, New York? Is Jesse as guilty as his father in the notorious case of child molestation? Additional excerpts of the Friedmans' home movies only deepen the uncertainty we feel after viewing the film, and video footage from two early premiere screenings demonstrates that emotions will continue to run high as long as lingering doubts remain. The "altercation" at the New York premiere is actually rather benign, but only because filmmaker Andrew Jarecki kept the crowd under control before arguments could boil over; at the Great Neck premiere, the case's judge gets a chance to comment on facts that the film omitted while praising its overall veracity. Uncut footage of the prosecution's star witness makes it clear that the case was on shaky ground; even more than in the film proper, this witness (whose face is hidden in shadow) comes off as marginally credible at best, and at worst a vindictive liar, further suggesting serious weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
On a lighter note, "Just a Clown"--the film Jarecki was making when he discovered the true scope of the Friedman story--is a delightful portrait of New York party clowns and their reigning king, David Friedman, whose business thrives as he caters to wealthy Manhattanites. It's clear proof that Jarecki's a gifted documentarian. A featurette about Andrea Morricone (son of the great film composer Ennio Morricone) highlights his creation of the film's evocative score. Returning to the Friedman case, an interactive dossier of Friedman-related media delves deeper into the lives and personalities of this dysfunctional American family, and "Jesse's Life Today" examines the ex-convict's relatively upbeat recovery from 13 years in prison for a crime he allegedly didn't commit. For armchair detectives, an extensive menu of pertinent documents are provided as DVD-ROM content, the most fascinating being Arthur Friedman's confessional "My Story," a psychologist's assessment of alleged vic! tims, and a curiously revealing "Friedman family contract." Taken together, these and other documents add even more complexity to the film's compelling, Rashomon-like study of truth. --Jeff Shannon
Nominated for the best documentary Oscar, the intriguing story of the Friedmans continues to develop and compelling new evidence, witnesses and uncut footage of the prosecutions star witness are all presented on this two-disc edition. Its time to find out who you believe now.