Frontline

discs frontline

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Frontline: Raising Adam Lanza 2012’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT is a tragedy that will hang in the public consciousness for years to come, and as is always the case with events like this the media and the public find themselves desperate for answers as to why and how it could have happened. PBS’ continually excellent program, Frontline, takes a look at the shooter and the sole constant in his life, his mother. The public perception of the shooter is limited to simple, catchy headlines, rumors and repeated claims of his interest in guns and videogames, but unlike the attention whores dominating the 24 hour news cycle, Frontline takes time to get to the truth of the matter. They touch upon his interests, but instead of laying blame they make a point of acknowledging that those same interests were shared by many other boys, too. The issue here is mental health and a mother in over her head, and while I’m not a fan of giving the killers additional publicity in the press (via their name) it’s worthwhile when paired with journalism done right. [DVD extras: None]

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SNITCH

Editors note: this discussion features spoilers for the movie Snitch. Read at your own discretion.  When you sit down to watch a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action vehicle like Snitch, you generally expect the film’s crosshairs to be sighted on fictional bad guys, not the real world United States government. But as it turns out, Snitch’s action-film ready “How far would you go to save your son?” conceit is less a narrative gimmick than it is a point of departure to dramatize a social issue. The film isn’t ultimately propelled by the urge to flip semi-trailers but by the desire to criticize the problematic mandatory minimum sentencing laws the government wields to fight the war on drugs. Snitch’s social conscience is the offspring of the activist mandates of Participant Media and the same-named episode of PBS’s Frontline. The investigative report shed condemning light on how some of the United States anti-drug tactics – mandatory minimum sentencing and conspiracy charges – breed an environment where big fish get lighter sentences by informing on smaller (or non) fish. Snitching may be the documentary’s hook, but its core criticism is how in the government’s singular mission to win against drugs, it will unjustly, indiscriminately and indifferently ruin people’s lives to achieve its goals. As one interviewee put it: “It’s no longer about protecting people who are innocent. Now it’s part of the casualties of the drug war.”

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Bogart and Bacall, Tracy and Hepburn; some Hollywood pairings work so well that they’re iconic, linking the actors in people’s minds so intrinsically that they become just as recognizable as a duo as they are as individuals. It’s looking like a new pair of names could get added to that list; Sarandon and The Rock. That’s because Susan Sarandon is in negotiations to join the already-cast Dwayne Johnson in a new drama called Snitch. Ric Roman Waugh is re-writing a script by Justin Haythe and also directing the film, which is based off a Frontline documentary about a father who agrees to go undercover and take down a high-ranking drug lord in order to get his teenage son’s rather ridiculous 30-year drug sentence cut down to something less soul-crushing. If all goes well, Sarandon will be playing the role of an ambitious attorney who thinks a high profile drug bust could really help out her career. I imagine the stoic Johnson, risking it all for his son, and the sleazy Sarandon, looking to exploit people to boost up her career, will make for some pretty good banter. Hopefully at some point they’re forced to share a hotel bed together and they hang a sheet between them to act as an impenetrable grope-stopping wall. That’s always a classic. [Heat Vision]

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