This scripted film depicts the rise and fall of Tonya Harding through documentary-style “interviews” with her family and friends. Tonya’s life is marred by “the incident” where her main competitor is disabled by a pair of amateur hitmen. The film captures the iconic scene nicely as well— whereas crimes are usually depicted smoothly in film, we are treated to the sloppy reality of the incident and the sheer stupidity of those responsible.
This documentary forces the viewer to contemplate criminal responsibility and the inadequacies of our current system in dealing with victims of abuse. It also make one contemplate the power of modern medicine as an institution, as hundreds of healthcare professionals must have encountered Gypsy without becoming suspicious.
Revelations made in this film implicate all levels of the Russian state bureaucracy, nearly every Russian athlete, and the International Olympic Committee which turned a blind eye for years. The film makes us question the fairness of modern athletics and whether steroid-free sports are still possible.
Who gets an obituary in the New York Times? This documentary gives us a glimpse inside the most prestigious obituary outlet in modern day America. Editors and writers tell us what makes for a good obituary as well as the types of people they profile in these widely-read life histories. We also learn about the history of obits such as how old obits avoided words like “death” or “died”. Moreover, did you know many obituaries of famous people are written well before they die? These are called “advances” and are often composed when notable individuals become ill or pass a certain age.
By far, this was my favorite film of 2017/18. Though it was shunned by mainstream awards committees, I bet the sociologist in you will find this more true-to-life than any other film from last year. Furthermore, this would be an excellent movie to show to students of sociology because it exhibits so many concepts and social problems. Yet what makes this film particularly beautiful is that the characters exhibit agency and empathy in their complex relationships.