Category: David Feldman Show

Must See Doc: The Act of Killing

  • The Act Of Killing
  • “Disturbing” “Phenomenal”
  • Tells the story of mass murder in Indonesia
  • Running From Crazy
  • “Bravery in the face of…genetic destiny”
  • Mariel Hemingway’s battle with her family’s history of mental illness

Michael Snyder, our resident film critic, stops by every once in a while to tell us what documentaries we should be catching. Today, he has two.

Listen to the original broadcast

David:  Hello Mr. Snyder.  First up, The Act of Killing.

Michael: Well, this is a fascinating, disturbing and wildly original documentary by a director named Joshua Oppenheimer, who decided to do something about the mass extermination of people in Indonesia in 1965 that was initiated by a military coup.

People in charge gathered together a bunch of gangsters and set them out to basically cleanse the country of what they said were Communists, and the Communists could be anything from farmers to poor people to genuine dissidents.

Michael: This film goes back to Indonesia and finds these now elderly killers and asks them to  explain the how and the why of the murders that they committed and also to reenact them for the camera.

Michael: These  guys, apparently, a number of them really love the American movies, and they’re given an opportunity to play act these incidents of killing and torture, and basically try to justify what they did when they did it and express very little remorse. Some of these guys killed hundreds of people, literally hundreds of people, each individually. One guy in particular, Anwar Congo, has bad dreams, and a lot of it must be guilt.

The Act of Killing according to Michael Snyder is "amazing."

The Act of Killing according to Michael Snyder is “amazing.”

David: Does he know that he’s guilty?

Michael: Oh, absolutely. But it doesn’t change the fact that they did it and they tried to justify what they did. Even today, people are frightened of them as we see in the course of their filming and interacting with actual citizens of the northern Sumatra area.

It’s pretty astonishing stuff.

David: After Suharto fell in 1998 did Indonesia have any truth in reconciliation? Did any of these guys go to prison for these atrocities?

Michael: No. No, absolutely not. They walk the streets, they’re still feared and/or admired or cowed before. It’s a phenomenal film, and it’s surreal in places. There’s one particular kind of production number involving the music from the film Born Free with dancing girls and what looks like a gigantic fish. I can’t even – it is like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s disturbing, it’s phenomenal. It’s as if somehow, the Nazis were given a pass and were still around today and were kind of basically strutting down their street in their hometown and nobody gave a damn.

David: Maybe it’s time for another documentary where Henry Kissinger reenacts all the murders he’s committed in Indonesia’s East Timor and Cambodia.

Michael: There’s enough horror on the screen with these old Indonesian gangsters. You’ll be stunned, honestly.

David: And they’re proud of it?

Michael: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And one guy is just happy that he got away with it, another guy is somewhat tormented, some say you just can’t allow yourself to embrace any guilt in the issue. And there’s one guy, he was the stepson of a Communist whose stepfather just disappeared. They took him away. And what’s really remarkable about this is the palpable fear he still has in the presence of these old gangsters.

David: And ‘gangsters’ is the word for them?

Michael:  Yeah. They actually wear it proudly.

David: And they live well, right?

Michael:  I don’t know how standards of living are over there, but yes, fairly comfortably.

There’s also a very perverse moment when Anwar is with what appears to be grandchildren and he’s being gentle about a wounded duck, and meanwhile, completely callous about the people that he killed. One guy talks about walking through the city and encountering Chinese Communists, or people he perceived of as Chinese Communists, and just stabbing them one after another, just going on a tear.

David: President Obama lived in Indonesia for a while, didn’t he?

Michael: He may not have known these guys.

Running From Crazy is another doc Michael says we should all catch.

Running From Crazy is another doc Michael says we should all catch.

David: Maybe he’s responsible for this. OK, Running From Crazy.

Michael:  Well, it’s basically a documentary about Mariel Hemingway and her fear of the emotional, psychological and genetic legacy that has led to at least two suicides in her family and a mentally disturbed elder sister. Mariel’s sister, Margaux, who was an actress and a model, took her own life and was a lovely, vibrant woman.

Mariel seems to have her head screwed on straight and she’s trying to keep her life together, and the camera follows her through her life and she talks about the past. There’s video footage shot by Margaux, and there’s a lot of discussion of the entire family, including Mariel and Margaux’s grandfather, the great author Ernest Hemingway, who had plenty of problems of his own.

Running From Crazy is directed by award winning Director Barbara Kopple,

Running From Crazy is directed by award winning Director Barbara Kopple,

Michael: The director is Barbara Kopple, who did Harlan County, USA, American Dream, and a lot of other pretty renowned, award-winning documentaries. It appears to have been partially financed I think by OWN, or has been shown on OWN, Oprah’s network. But it’s a beautiful depiction of someone basically plowing forward with her life, making sure she’s going to do the very best she can to keep it together. She’s wonderful in that.

David: And she’s turned to yoga and eating properly, and she has either a boyfriend or a husband?

Michael:  She seems like a good person. She seems like someone who has her head screwed on. But it’s interesting to hear her reflect on her family and see the footage from the past, and realize that she’s grappled with tragedy and a fear of her own mind crumbling for much of her adult life. And it’s powerful in its own way. Reflecting on the past can actually prepare you for the future or completely turn your life around. This movie is about family bravery in the face of what could be destiny, genetic destiny, if you will.

David: Great. Michael Snyder, thank you for joining us.

Listen to the original broadcast

What do you think? Join the conversation below?


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The 5 Biggest Lies You Were Told This Week


West Virginia’s chemical spill demonstrates why we need a more powerful EPA and John Boehner is lying when he says coal is “regulated enough.” The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is the most corrupt man in Washington and is lying when he tell us why he’s retiring. A new documentary reveals that Donald Rumsfeld is delusional and a liar. Is Egypt ready for Democracy? Is America ready for Democracy? And with North Korea and Iran pursuing their nuclear ambitions does America really have the ability to shoot incoming missiles out of the sky? Or is Raytheon lying to us? Today’s show features the following Truth Tellers: Will Ryan, Cactus Chloe Fiorenzo, Westy Westenhofer, Benny Brydern and JT “Tornado Thomas,” Hal Lublin, Mark Thompson, Howie Klein, Hayes Brown and Michael Snyder. Portions of our show are written by Hal Lublin and David Feldman. Please subscribe to this for free as a podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

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Is America A Police State?

Dr. Robert Brame On America’s Increasing Taste For Locking Americans Up

  • 50% percent of black males and 40% of white males will be arrested by the time they’re 23, according to Dr. Brame’s new study.
  • Is America a police state?
  • An arrest record, with no conviction, can make it impossible to find a job in some states.
  • Violent crime has plummeted yet the number of Americans getting arrested continues to rise.
  • Dr. Brame says nobody’s sure of the role Roe versus Wade plays in the sharp dip in violent crime.

Listen to the original broadcast.

Now comes news that nearly 40% of white males in America are arrested by the time they’re 23.  Is America a police state? Joining us is Dr. Robert Brame. He is a Criminology professor at the University of South Carolina, and the lead author of this study.

Police state? 50 percent of black males in America will be arrested by the time they're 23.

Police state? Nearly 50 percent of black males in America will be arrested by the time they’re 23.

David: Dr. Brame, nearly 40% of white men have been arrested by the time they’re 23. So America either has a serious problem with white men or the police, which means America has a serious problem with white men.

Now, these are arrests, not incarcerations. My son’s best friend is black. At the age of 18, he was arrested for marijuana possession. Never convicted, but ended up spending a week in the L.A. County jail, and then was sent home.

Does that count as an incarceration, or does that count simply as an arrest?

Dr. Brame: Well, that’s an arrest, followed by a period of detention.

40% of white men have been arrested by the time they're 23.

Police state? Nearly 40% of white men have been arrested by the time they’re 23.

David: So you can spend a week in the county jail and that’s just an arrest, not an incarceration?

Dr. Brame: That’s not what we normally think of as incarceration. So that experience you just described would be an arrest with a period of pre-trial detention.

David: If you’ve been arrested but never convicted, certainly that doesn’t show up on your record, right? When you’re looking for a job, running for office or applying to college, having been arrested but not convicted, that doesn’t show up on your record, right?

An Arrest Often Remains Part of  Your Police Record

Dr. Brame:  You have to take into consideration that the laws that govern the use of criminal history records vary tremendously from state to state. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that an employer can ask you many questions on a job application. So if an employer wants to ask you about whether you’ve ever been arrested or not, unless the state has a law that governs the kinds of questions about criminal history that can be asked, they can ask you that question. You, as an applicant, decide whether to answer that truthfully or not.

Dr. Brame: Just having an arrest record with no conviction can affect opportunities to get a license in some states, it can affect your eligibility to get student loans, it can affect your relationships with friends and family. Yes, it can affect you if you’ve been arrested without being convicted, certainly.

David: Professor Brame, violent crime is down dramatically in America. What do you say to those who maintain this is all good, we introduce Americans to the criminal justice system at an early age, and it scares them straight?

Dr. Brame: The basic idea that you lay out is correct. Homicides today in the United States, the homicide rate today is as low as it’s been since the early 1960’s. That’s a fact.

Dr. Brame: What we’re not sure of is how much of that is due to criminal justice system policies, or, on the other hand, how much of it is due to other things that are not as much under the control of the criminal justice system, or other things that are under the control of the criminal justice system, but they are different than arrests.

For example, putting more police on the street or the decline of crack cocaine markets have both been proposed as potential explanations for the crime decline, and those don’t really have anything at all to do with how often people are arrested.

Dr. Brame: But it would be an unjustified leap from the evidence at this point to say that the violent crime declines that we’ve seen say in the last 20 years or so, that those are due to arresting people more often. I don’t think that’s consistent with the evidence we have right now.

Has Roe v. Wade Played Any Role In Violent Crime Dropping?

America's incarceration rate has spiked since Reagan became president.

Police state? America’s incarceration rate has spiked since Reagan became president.

David:  Is there any evidence to suggest that Roe v. Wade is responsible for the precipitous drop in violent crime?

Dr. Brame: I don’t think the research on that speaks with one voice, so I think it’s fair to say that research is controversial. And I don’t think we have a good consensus understanding of the effects of changes in abortion laws and abortion guidelines on violent crime.

David:  If getting slapped by your father, an authority figure, sends you into therapy, what does being thrown to the ground and arrested by a police officer do to a 16-year-old white male?

Dr. Brame:  To me, it would be traumatic. This is where the research needs to go is to try to understand this. We look at the effects of the types of schools that kids go to, we look at the effects of the types of food they eat, how much TV they watch, we look at the effects of all those sorts of experiences on life outcomes. Given how widespread arrest experiences are, we need to better understand what the total effects of the arrest experience is, both beneficial and harmful on people’s future behavior.

So that’s one of the issues we are hoping to shed light on with this research and future research.

David: Is this our nature? Have we always been arresting people?

Dr. Brame:  I think we have a lot more police officers in schools today than we used to. We’re much more likely to arrest people for certain kinds of drug offenses, domestic violence, dating violence kinds of issues that maybe then weren’t as likely to result in arrests a generation ago. Unfortunately, no simple answer to that question.

Dr. Robert Brame is a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina.

Listen to the original broadcast.

Have you been arrested? Do you fear America is becoming a police state?  Please join the conversation below.

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This WILL get you MORE SEX!

Who doesn’t enjoy the act of lovemaking? If you are one of those poor, unfortunate souls who can’t get anyone to have sex with you, fret no more! The Lovemaking Mask will help you get the sex action that has been lacking in your life, and all you have to do is put in on your face. It’s that simple! Once you wrap your mug in this furry sexual cocoon you will see dramatic changes that you’ve only dreamed about. Yes, The Lovemaking Mask is here and ready to help you achieve anyone you desire. Maybe.


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The War On Valentine’s Day

war on valentines

The battle on the war on Christmas continues as we announce our War on Valentine’s Day. Comic Matt Kirshen, Jeremy S. Kramer, Hal Lublin, Film Critic Michael Snyder, Web Master Jimmy Lee Wirt and Will Ryan and The Cactus County Cowboys. The Cactus County Cowboys features Cactus Chloe Fiorenzo, Westy Westenhofer, Benny Brydern and J.T. Tornado Thomas. Please subscribe to this show for free on iTunes and Stitcher.

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