directed by Andrew Jarecki
"Only that which has no history is definable"
-Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, 1887
by Walter Chaw The rare film to encapsulate the macro and the micro with eloquence and no little existential disquiet, Andrew Jarecki's amazing documentary Capturing the Friedmans tackles issues like the nature of film, the slipperiness of memory, and the unreliability of identity in ways that are uncomfortable and prickly. The revelations in the film about modern cultural anthropology are indescribably delicious, speaking to pleasure in a way that Jonathan Rosenbaum once identified as including the sensations of fear and unbalance--as an experience, the picture is as exhilaratingly unnerving as only an illicit document can be. When, early in the piece, eldest son of the Friedman clan David addresses the camera directly in what he warns is a personal journal, Capturing the Friedmans subverts the exploitive voyeurism that defines cinema, particularly pornographic cinema, in a way that is as cannily, uniquely, ironically filmic as Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. It's something we feel we shouldn't be watching--a realization that, once established (within the first minutes of the picture), finds the audience formulated helpless and naked before the film's reptilian regard.