The House I Live In (2012)
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Critic Reviews for The House I Live In
The movie's indictment would be more persuasive had Jarecki recognized that his audience likely already knows most of what he recaps, and can handle the odd scrap of ambiguity.
"The House I Live In" leaves you shaking your head in deadened wonder at the waste of it all.
Americans have long celebrated justice and freedom, but director Eugene Jarecki's The House I Live In forces viewers to look closely at political policies that have turned the nation into the No. 1 jailer in the world.
Whatever your politics, you will find things to astonish and flabbergast and enrage you in what is perhaps the most cool-headed examination of America's relationship to illegal drugs ever.
Audience Reviews for The House I Live In
Documentary examining some of the absurdities of the War on Drugs---like mandatory minimum sentences, the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity, and asset seizure---and how they've turned law enforcement into a self perpetuating prison-industrial complex that does nothing to address the root problems. It effectively sets forth the argument that the system is broken and that those profiting from it have no incentive to fix things, but the idea of comparing scapegoated drug-users to Holocaust victims will certainly turn some people off. The doc's biggest flaw was that it needed to be made 20 years ago, when these crazy laws were being enacted.
Recently, Michael Moore, in his self-appointed role as commissioner of documentaries, gave a list of guidelines that documentary filmmakers should follow. One of them is to get in front of the camera. And with the documentary "The House I Live In," we can see where that might not always be such a good idea as in making a film about the failed drug war in the United States that affects so many poor and people of color, director Eugene Jarecki comes at it from the privileged point of view of his Connecticut family who employed a nanny for many years.
So while that holds true, Jarecki does provide some keen insights here, especially as it relates to the draconian mandatory minimum sentences non-violent drug offenders face. And he benefits greatly from speaking to David Simon. But at the same time, there is a lot of material that is certainly not new(Bloom County or Bill Hicks, your choice). Plus, the documentary is now a little dated since marijuana has recently been legalized in Colorado and Washington while omitting other material like say about prohibition, which might clash with the movie's overall thesis about everything being racist and classist, ignoring the United States's long puritanical streak in favor of whatever conspiracy theories happen to come along.
A documentary that looks at the "legacy" of the US's War On Drugs. It's undeniably fascinating subject matter but its filmed in a rather sedate, distancing manner, I wanted something more passionate and angry, more exhaustive.
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