Tag Archives: Murder

FILM REVIEW: Amanda Knox

There’s nothing particularly clear cut about the Meredith Kercher case. Back in 2007, as (arguably) now, we knew but one indisputable fact; Meredith Kercher was murdered.

Lord knows how her grieving family is meant to have got any sense of closure when the whole sorry shebang seems to be – despite countless court hours – pretty much inconclusive. The archetypal, interminable crime case.

That said, in 2015, there was finally at last some semblance of closure when both Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted by the Italian courts for a second, and one would assume, final time.

The makers of this new Netflix documentary, Amanda Knox, were on site at the Knox family residence to capture that all important moment when the verdict was delivered. The combined relief and joy on Amanda’s face was something to behold, and the phone call she received just moments later from Raffaele makes for a genuinely emotional and touching scene: “Raffaele, we’re free…!”

It’ll be of no consolation to the Kercher family of course, but at least someone finally can take something positive from the train-wreckage of this most unfortunate of affairs.

It’s genuinely tricky to say whether Amanda Knox, the documentary, deliberately sets out to paint a favourable (or at least neutral), picture of the ‘infamous exchange student’ from Seattle. Certainly her new shorter haircut, absence of make-up, and low-key dress sense would hint at this being the case. Not quite the funky wild-child temptress that the Italian – and subsequently world – press would have had us believe her to be at one time. Then again, a lot of water’s passed under that particular bridge since then, hasn’t it?

There was a murder conviction, serving three or four years of a twenty-six year jail sentence, and an unrelenting press campaign of intrudence which has effectively extinguished any chance that Amanda Knox might have had to slide away from the public eye and lead something resembling a normal life once again.

I’d imagine that that’s a collection of circumstances which would have quite some adverse affect on anyone’s personality.

There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking stylistically-speaking about Amanda Knox, a documentary which simply lays out the ‘facts’ and allows a number of talking heads to have their say – leaving its audience to make up their own mind.

Amongst those interviewed is the head of prosecution, Giuliano Mignini, whose motives and actions are questionable to say the least, as he seeks to curry favour with those of power and influence, hell-bent on proving that he and Perugia’s police force are up to the job of cracking this most high profile of cases. And then there’s the almost insatiable pursuit of the perfect ‘scoop’ by textbook, slippery eel, Daily Mail journalist, Nick Pisa, whose approach is at once both impressive and inappropriate – likening the enormity of his new found journalistic fame and subsequent ego boost in light of these terrible events, to having sex. In fairness, it is after all only journalism and he is after all a journalist. I’m fairly confident that you won’t rise to that sort of level within the industry without being unscrupulous on some level at least.

Of course, it’s the individual testimonies and back stories regaled by both Amanda and Raffaele themselves though that hold the most intrigue. Scrutinising the pair for tell-tale ‘signs’ from body language and dialogue, you’d be hard-pushed to witness any psychopathic traits or signs of the cold hearted blood-lust that some would have you believe is their way and want; but I am of course no expert.

What we can say though is that thanks to a litany of amateurish, bungled attempts by the prosecution to prove the young couple’s guilt – resulting in evidence being rendered inadmissible in court – it seems that the world will never be able to categorically say what really happened, on that regrettable November evening in 2007.

Will the files of the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher remain forever on ice? Has the now jailed chief suspect, Rudy Guede, actually been hung out to dry? The convenient fall guy in a much bigger and more complex scenario? Does Amanda Knox know more than she’s ever let on? Was Sollecito as innocent as he seems, or was he just easily led by the more domineering and seductive charms of Foxy Knoxy? A reluctant accomplice, if you will, in a gruesome murder?

So many questions that will remain unanswered, but one thing we do know now, beyond any reasonable doubt; Netflix’ Amanda Knox documentary leaves us absolutely none the wiser…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FILM REVIEW: Green Room

Antagonising a room full of white extremist skinheads with a cover version of The Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” is ill advised at the best of times, but that’s the least of this particular low-profile gigging punk band’s problems having shortly afterwards stumbled upon a brutal murder scene, backstage.

It’s fair to say that they were always going to end up really wishing they hadn’t…

Whilst there’s an apparently defining line in the sand of good against bad in writer and director Jeremy Saulnier’s rather grisly tale, the truth is in fact that neither ‘side’ here is particularly likeable at all, and it’s only ultimately by adopting the default status of outnumbered underdogs – odds stacked heavily against them – that it’s really possible to root for any of the rather brusque band members or sympathise with the increasingly fraught situation in which they find themselves.

And everything would have been so avoidable too if on witnessing the dead body in the ‘Green Room’ band member, Pat, (Anton Yelchin), had not panicked and reported the stabbing in a frantic impulse call to the police; a call witnessed unfortunately by the venue’s bouncers.

As a consequence, the band barricade themselves in a room and a tense stand-off ensues.

It’s down to venue owner, Darcy, (Patrick Stewart) – the mature voice of reason? – to attempt to convince the clearly rattled band members that they can trust him. But can they? And can he trust them not to speak of what they’ve witnessed there in The Green Room?

As mentioned to me by a friend, it takes a lot these days for a film to justify the full 18 rating certificate. Green Room does, and then some.

Be it knives, guns, home made weapons, flesh-slashing, amputations or the actions of crazed fighting dogs, this is not a film for the faint of heart.

And yet, much like its director’s previous outing, Blue Ruin, the whole thing is darkly comic making a point of placing tongue firmly in cheek – though it should be said, through the unsettling haze of incessant blood spill and grizzle, that particular feature can be rather too easily forgotten!

A refreshingly and unashamedly visceral and brutal piece.

 

 

 

 

 

FILM REVIEW: Night Crawler

Night crawler? Skin crawler more like.

Louis (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a petty criminal, an opportunist and a most disturbing man in anyone’s book, displaying more than his fair share of psychopathic traits.

Having stumbled upon the murky world of late night, sensational journalism, he spends his nights obsessively capturing as much exclusive video footage as he can from Los Angeles’ litany of nightly accidents, homicides and other scenes of misfortune, in order to sell it on to news stations, for a fee.

Cold-heartedly he engineers his way up the ladder of this cut-throat business, looking after number one, displaying a tunnel-vision, showing little or no regard for those affected around him. ‘Empathy for one’s fellow man’ it’s fair to say, does not rate highly in Louis’s list of priorities.

Bit by bit, Louis sinks deeper and deeper into the mire in his quest for success and everything that his very transactional view of the world, desires.

It’s a gripping tale, told brilliantly by director Dan Gilroy, creating at times excruciating levels of tension and all done with some very dark, dark humour.

Gyllenhaal is stupendous and freaky in equal measures, whilst Riz Ahmed, his hapless side-kick and Renee Russo, one of the objects of Louis’s desires, are both excellent in their respective roles. A special mention also for the brilliantly named news anchor, Kent Shocknek, played here by, Kent Shocknek; yes, that really is his name.

Only in America…

Gilroy creates just the right atmosphere throughout, capturing the soullessness of the sprawling Los Angeles suburbs whilst revealing the cut-throat, superficial and deeply immoral nature of ‘shock news’ media.

One of the best things I’ve laid eyes on all year. This shouldn’t be missed.