I recall having been quite won over by the VHS tape of Morris's game-changer when I was in my early teens, but seeing it now in the luminous Criterion high-def transfer has sent a current through my whole being. This would have to be pretty high on the list of cinematic milestones since 1890-whatever - no film better represents what any good Nietzschean would call a "confluence of forces." Stunningly edited.
A masterful documentary. The "dramatic non-fiction" elements (reenactment scenes, music cues) aren't gimmicks to hold attention so much as an acknowledgement of an ever-shifting subjectivity. Even the little details (a bumper sticker, a choice of words in a newspaper headline) add up to a very distinct portrait of the American heartland, with its open spaces, closed communities, and local moral codes.
Some strong sequences in the end (one for sure made the film famous) but for most of the time, lazy direction and quite a disappointment in comparison with the absurd reputation of the film (some would say best documentary of all time, really ?!). Looks more like a good TV film, where Benning with "Landscape Suicide" offers you Cinema.
This documentary focuses on a random, rather run of the mill whodunit mystery, but it gains some serious power through an early use of testimonies woven with repetitive cutaways to the reenactment. Beautifully shot and scored, it's so different from any other documentary or crime thriller...gripped me from start to finish.