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Entries in HBO (2)


Jim: The James Foley Story

Jim: The James Foley Story
Directed by: Brian Oakes
Released on: HBO & Sundance Film Festival 2016
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

For most Americans, the introduction to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (AKA ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) came via the video of American journalist James "Jim" Foley. Shaved, dressed in orange clothing and kneeling somewhere in a desert in Syria, Foley was forced to read "Warning to America" before a camera. After he finished reading the forced diatribe against family and country, Foley was beheaded.

The story of how the man met his tragic fate is the subject of director Brian Oakes documentary, Jim: The James Foley Story.

To the documentary's credit it makes it clear from the beginning that this will not be a sensationalized hagiography of the 40-year-old murdered journalist, but about why he did the work and the prices he, and others, paid for it. "The film shows images of war recorded by conflict journalists. It does not show the execution of Jim," the opening credits declare.

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Sex Crimes Unit

Sex Crimes Unit
HBO Documentary Series
Screened at: LAFF 2011 | June 18th & 19th, 2011
Grade: 2 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Two days and one day before the HBO premiere on June 20th, the Los Angeles Film Festival screened Sex Crimes Unit, an insightful yet flawed look at a group of dedicated city employees working to bring rapists and other sexually violent perpetrators to justice.

Before the Sex Crimes Protection Unit was formed in 1974 by Manhattan District Attorney and father of five daughters, Robert M. Morgenthau, victims of rape had very little legal recourse. Marital rape was not considered a crime (and good luck with prosecuting acquaintance or date rape cases). It was subject to statues of limitations. And more importantly, it was, and still is to a considerable degree, a victim-precipitated crime. In other words, a woman had it coming to her — even if she was married, at home, sober, in bed asleep, and the assailant broke into the house and sexually violated her. (Some of the reasoning behind this latter part, especially when it came to women holding this point of view, are among the more interesting moments in the documentary.)

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