8:00 PM, 9th October, 2004
Capturing the Friedmans is a documentary about a seemingly ordinary middle class Jewish family in Long Island whose world is turned on its head when the father (Arnold) and youngest son (Jesse) are arrested and charged with child sex abuse. The story of what happens next is told through interviews with family members, police, prosecutors and alleged victims, as well as through home video captured by the eldest son following the arrests. Much of the home movie footage features nasty arguments and other family turmoil: for the price of admission, we get to see a family come apart on screen.
As much as you would like it to, Capturing the Friedmans does not allow you to indulge in easy moral outrage. The charges are horrific, and the family is clearly not the Bradys, but the picture that emerges of the justice system trying Arnold and Jesse doesn't necessarily inspire confidence either. Through interviews and footage that are manipulatively, and brilliantly, weaved together, you are left to make up your own mind.
10:08 PM, 9th October, 2004
Thirteen is the tale of a 13-year-old girl, Tracy (played by Evan Rachel Wood, from TV's "Once and Again") who is drawn into a world of drugs, partying and rebellion because of her desire to be part of the popular crowd. The film takes us through the struggles of both Tracy and her mother (Hunter) at this time.
From the first scene, you know this is no Lizzie Maguire. With a script written by teenager Nikki Reed, the scenes have resonance and emotion that can only come from first-hand experiences and observation. (Reed also stars as Evie, the girl who introduces Tracy to her new world).
As well as Wood, the film has strong supporting performances from some of television's best (Jeremy Sisto from "Six Feet Under", Sarah Clarke/"Nina" from "24") but it is Hunter's performance that is the highlight - this is her best role since The Piano. Her role differs from many of her other characters - instead of making clear choices for herself (e.g. Broadcast News), the mother character is losing focus because of her maternal devotion to Tracy.
Nominated for many awards, Thirteen is a solid film, worthy of its acclaim.