Monday, September 30, 2013
He knows only what his time and civilization have conditioned him for: to slay the enemy, conquer his lands, and sacrifice all others – including loved ones – who might characterize a divisive strike against his fist or mind. That is the fundamental guiding force of old conflicted Titus, the main character at the center of England’s bloodiest stage play, and with that conviction he clutches an instinct that is hard-hitting and unsympathetic; audiences bear witness to the ensuing brutality like lambs carried through varying stages of slaughter. There is no hope for any who challenge his will, and those that may merely stand in his shadows as cautious observers are subject to similar fates. Like a spinning blade, the aged general of a dying empire crashes through lives without regard to the merits of human existence, and when a maniacal plot for revenge against him begins to escalate in the hands of bloodthirsty dissenters, it becomes only another platform for more macabre crimes against the flesh.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Life is a precious commodity. It is taken for granted so easily, so passively. I know this because I have indulged in plenty of my own time-wasting, usually for no other purpose than momentary satisfaction. I used to think of age as an annoying reminder of new aches and pains working their way into one’s life, and that is not entirely untrue. But it is only part of the big picture, which is bound by the element of time that drifts us ever so closer towards the end of our existence as we know it. That becomes a little scarier to confront each year, but it also puts the present into a much broader perspective. Today is about today, and doing everything you can to live, enjoy, savor and cherish the pleasures of Earth and its gifts. I know this better at 32 than I did at 24, and it’s a remarkable feeling to not only realize it, but experience it.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
So here is where their nightmare comes to an end. After 18 years of falsified imprisonment, legal battles, unrelenting suspicion and a documentary filmmaker’s camera as their only link to the outside world, the West Memphis Three arrive at the center of “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” having learned the harshest lesson about our flawed legal system, and their reward is their own freedom. But at what cost? Two decades of their lives have been lived in isolation for ludicrous reasons, a devastated community spent all their emotional energy on the wrong targets, and the deaths of three eight year olds have gone without justice because an incompetent police force was too careless in their pursuit of facts. And even after the turmoil, none of those involved in the false convictions ever shows the slightest hint of spine; they resolve to their pompous rhetoric that those convicted were done so in a clean case, and the state’s eventual decision to free them based on reduced sentences instead of full exoneration is a spit in the face. Seldom has a film inspired so much dislike in viewers towards the very system designed to protect them.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The unanswered questions at the end of “Paradise Lost” were the kind that could inspire not only a need for a follow-up documentary, but indeed an entire political movement. In “Paradise Lost 2,” three teenage boys who were tried and convicted in 1994 of a grizzly series of child murders in Arkansas are nearly five years into their prison sentences, and occupy camera frames like mere shells brow-beaten by a due process that failed them. The perplexity of their convictions was instrumental in the creation of a non-profit support organization that is centralized in the second documentary, in which supporters of the “West Memphis Three” take on operative roles in an appeal process that would overturn the conviction of Damien Echols before a proposed death sentence is carried out. Anyone who saw the predecessor with an open mind can easily see why: in a legal climate that was beginning to use DNA and forensics as keys to unlocking the secrets of heinous crimes, how was it even possible that three relatively calm teenagers could be found guilty of murders that they could not be linked to scientifically?
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
On a quiet evening in May of 1993, three young boys in a small town in Arkansas were wandering the neighborhoods after school when an assailant abducted, bound and brutally murdered them, and then left their mutilated remains in a ditch in a remote forested area off a nearby interstate. The ensuing events in West Memphis over the following year were of disquieting reality, as details of the crimes were exposed in graphic detail, a community was whipped into a frenzy of fear and anger, and three teenagers were prosecuted for the slayings based on evidence that was perhaps less than circumstantial. That all of this played out in an atmosphere that was rank in overwhelming religious undertones no doubt complicated the matters, but one central question would endure long after the nightmare had ceased: could three relatively docile teenage boys really commit something so heinous, or were they the victims of a hysteria that demanded some kind of finality to a crime too shocking to comprehend?