Matthew Cooke

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For a documentary to get noticed these days, it helps to have a fresh angle. But being creative with the form doesn’t necessarily result in an effective film, especially when it’s tackling a serious issue. Stunts occasionally work (see Super Size Me), as do innovative narrative devices (see 1965 Oscar-winner The War Game), but most docs with a gimmick unfortunately seem to hold that stylistic choice in front of the subject at hand. There’s no denying that How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a clever work of nonfiction, but we’re left thinking about the structure more than the film’s point. The real problem, however, might be that the film’s point is not even too clear anyway. Written, directed and heavily narrated by Matthew Cooke, the doc takes the form of, as the title suggests, an actual How-To guide to making money selling drugs. For a while it seems like an amusing piece of ironic satire, as former dealers including rapper 50 Cent and legendary trafficker “Freeway” Rick Ross favorably talk of making big money at very young ages. Then Cooke’s focus veers towards the problems of the Drug War and the prison industrial system and NYC’s Rockefeller laws, and it’s apparent that he may in fact be endorsing the occupation.

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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