The Central Park Five Reviews
November 25, 2013
Solid documentary chronicling the injustice behind the arrest of five youths after a vicious sexual assault in Central Park.
October 24, 2013
Didn't really do it for me, but I can't say it isn't good.
August 20, 2013
When I reviewed "In the Name of the Father" many years ago, I observed a "true-story" effect, where any story can gather more weight and meaning if it is based on a true story. Turns out that effect is even more pronounced in documentary form, if "The Central Park Five" is any indication.
This is nothing more, and nothing less, than a study of racial profiling, and how inherent it is in all of us, whether through the media or from the attitudes of our elders and peers. And, of course, the dire and tragic consequences of such attitudes.
It truly was an eye opener, and a film I think more people should see.
October 3, 2013
"The Central Park Five" presents the facts of the case with clarity, and it is a courageous, revealing look at the often complex and broken legal system in the United States.
October 3, 2013
"The Central Park Five" serves as a warning about legal incompetence, innocent lives destroyed, and a judicial system vulnerable to manipulation. The documentary details a nightmare scenario for five Harlem teenagers facing hard time, and the condemnation of America for a crime they didn't commit. The production sets the situation immediately, introducing the viewer to NYC in the 1980s, where Wall Street is in the process of rebuilding its reputation, while crack ravages the inner city, creating an explosive racial divide.
The film examines the infamous 1989 Central Park Jogger case, where a young white woman is brutally beaten and raped in New York's Central Park. At the same time, a group of five young black and Latino teenagers were quickly arrested for the crime and imprisoned. Following swift arrests by law enforcement officials, the prosecutors proudly declared the conviction as a step forward in the reclamation of a the city. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, all five are found guilty on multiple charges. Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, and Kharey Wise each spent between six to 13 years in prison, professing their innocence, while maintaining that it was a coerced confession to the crime. However, a chance encounter between the oldest of them and convicted serial rapist Matias Reyes, who years later yields his free admission of sole responsibility for the crime, and the claim is further substantiated with DNA evidence.
The documentary's approach seamlessly blends past and present, re-examines the assault, and walks you through what happened to the teenagers, from their arrest through their exoneration. Burns captures the complexity of history with startling results, yet "The Central Park Five" isn't quite as comprehensive as hoped, and fails to add anything substantively new to the story. Additionally, an element of balance is missing that would have turned a very good documentary into an exceptional one.
"The Central Park Five" presents the facts of the case with clarity, and it is a courageous, revealing look at the often complex and broken legal system in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the conclusion presented by historian Craig Steven Wilder: "Rather than tying [the case] up in a bow and thinking that there was something we can take away from it, and that we'll be better people, I think what we really need to realize is that we're not very good people."
August 31, 2013
This struck me as a distinct departure for Ken Burns. Working with recent events rather than historical ones, the documentary is a little more traditional with less of an air of "wisdom" about it.
The case of the false guilty verdicts - which led to many years of unjustly served prison sentences - was actually less interesting than expected. It comes down to: some kids were intimidated into confessing. There were not many tricks, traps, or unexpected turns - except for the surprise confession many years later which led to the overturn of their conviction.
We do get a sense of how a bunch of kids were rounded up - and then, by happening to be held when the discovery of am especially violent rape was discovered, become the arbitrary focus of all subsequent investigations. Yet, without the cooperation of anyone in the police force or prosecution, we get little insight into the politics of how this pressure came.
When I was a teen, I once picked up a book on legal first aid (geared to people who might be arrested at demonstrations). The most important advice, which should be handed down from parent to child is always: *Always retain your right to remain silent. Never talk to police without an attorney present*
June 23, 2013
This movie was extremely shocking when looking at it now at relating it to current events. It has direct similarities to the George Zimmerman case and should be a perfect example of history repeating itself. Except you'd hope that our justice system got this ruling right and is past this stage of "needing someone to blame" in today's society and that even though fueled by race agenda's it can overcome that and provide a decent ruling based on the evidence alone. If history does repeat itself i guess we will find out 11 years down the line at whether Zimmerman was truly innocent or guilty. It should be 5 out of 5 stars but the movie lingered on the race problem rather long instead of focusing on the fact that the police department just wanted someone to blame. It's hard to put it at 4.5 though because it's pretty obvious all the pressure to find a criminal who committed the crime was fueled by racist thoughts. Either way, this documentary is a great wake up call that the justice system is not perfect and how society is so willing to create a mob to persecute someone but not willing to properly apologize when wrong.
July 17, 2013
Great, sad, documentary. Everything Ken Burns touches is gold and he does a great job with this one.
July 17, 2013
watching this within a week of the Martin-Zimmerman trial was both accidental and made it all the more powerful.
|Lee Anne W||
July 6, 2013
Heartbreaking documentary about the five teenage boys whose coerced confessions led to their being unjustly jailed for the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger rape. This certainly deserves as much attention as Ken Burns' usual PBS pledge drive fodder. I wish more people heard of it, and watched.
June 27, 2013
Interesting documentary. Although the backstory of the murder could have warrented a B alone, I found the learning about 1988-1990 NYC the most fascinating part
June 24, 2013
So messed up for so many reasons.
June 9, 2013
The Central Park Five is one of those rare documentary films that manages to horrify and enrage because of the way that the American justice system is set up. The film not only tells the story of the five youths picked up in Central Park in 1989 and charged with assault and rape of a female jogger in Central Park. This is one of the most embarrassing criminal cases of the 20th century for the NY police department and its prosecutors.
While it doesn't hold the same emotional punch like the Paradise Lost trilogy of films, but it stands firm its ground and is a worthy addition. This film must be seen to be believed.
I highly recommend it.
June 6, 2013
Another horrifying movie..... One of the most intriguing documentaries I have seen. Did make feel ashamed of being a native New Yorker.
June 2, 2013
Sure to enrage and provoke.
February 15, 2013
10 years to make this documentary about a mistake, and a lie, that destroyed some young people's lives and made them "grow very fast" in a prison cell. Don't mess with our systems that could care less about justice. Is that a new story? The documentary "The End of Poverty?" can provide some answers to you. Our societies have never been shaped to pursue justice and fairness. Interests rule.
May 30, 2013
Heart wrenching documentary by Sarah and Ken Burns delves into the skewed justice system
May 27, 2013
Heartbreaking, eye-opening. A great documentary, extremely well-structured.
May 26, 2013
Maybe even more shocking than Paradise Lost.