The House I Live In - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The House I Live In Reviews

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March 18, 2014
Constantly changing angle, never ranting or preaching, it relentlessly builds a bleak and disturbing picture. Oddly though it's the DVD extras which most effectively deliver a message. The movie itself is less clear, perhaps because its most obvious conclusion - a class based one - is problematic, with no clear or at least simple solution.
March 10, 2014
Netflix 3/10/14
This is an outstanding documentary that sheds light on the political and social reasons we are in an unwinnable war but one that continues to be fought because of the economic impact it has on the system from employment of cops, lawyers, prison officials and private enterprise associated with this war. This is a primer on everything that is wrong as well as an interesting historical look at how society handles these issues. A must see.
March 4, 2014
Incredible, moving documentary about the War on Crime and its devastating effects.
January 30, 2014
Sundance 2012: Won the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
January 27, 2014
Excellent documentary that makes a very impressive argument that we need to revoke the law pertaining to mandatory minimum prison sentences, particularly for non-violent crimes.

This documentary helps prove what I have been saying about the prison industrial complex for decades: It's about money, not about people.

The prison system in the United States is no longer about racism, but about classism. Those on the top make tons of money off of the people on the lower end of the spectrum. It's rather sickening.
January 26, 2014
Some documentaries make you see things in a new way, some simply show you a part of the world you were hitherto ignorant of, and some make you weep. This film did the later and reminded me why injustice sickens us. This is one of those films which is so powerful in it's depiction of a system made by man that it makes it harder to believe the world is safe in our hands, and relieved that ultimately it isn't. One of the best films I have watched in a long time on a subject I probably would have had scant interest in were it not for having watched five jaw-dropping seasons of HBO's The Wire, the writer of which features heavily.
January 22, 2014
excellent documentary about drugs in the u.s. and the difference faces, cultures, and levels of crime and jail sentences for people caught selling and using drugs. if you have to see the additional piece on this documentary is gives you an update on the individual that were shown in the original
½ January 13, 2014
If knowing a man will die in prison for holding as much meth as the size of a ping pong ball doesn't make you sick, you're surely part of the problem - and the solution if anything is ever to be fixed. And 30 years down the road, this is the film teachers will show to their students; mothers and fathers their children - as a history lesson - whether things have changed or not.
January 11, 2014
An interesting look at the drug war. I don't know what the solution is but i know the penalty's are a little high, but i knew this before the film.
½ December 28, 2013
Opened my eyes to a topic I thought I was knowledgeable on but really had no clue.
December 27, 2013
A great film about the over-criminalization of drugs.
½ December 24, 2013
A brilliant exposure of the utter failure of the US's 'War on Drugs'. Shocking revelations that the supposed war is actually an attempt to suppress the poor and hopeless.
December 8, 2013
This is the best documentary I've ever watched
December 5, 2013
While this documentary opens your eyes to a debate that may not surface too often and lays down some pretty horrifying facts, the argument that's taken at the end is quite appalling. I walked away feeling that the documentary wanted us to view the war on drugs as a negative impact to society. So much so, that people using drugs should be an OK thing and people dealing drugs should be punished lightly (if punished at all). Each individual in this film seems to forget that drugs ruin lives. Drugs ruin the lives of the user, their families, and everyone and everything around them. The whole story is based off of the director's "nanny" who lost her child to drugs. While she claims that she "never understood the war on drugs" as she mourns her son, she is forgetting the fact that he ultimately made the wrong decision to use and unfortunately paid the ultimate price (death). To look back on his life and blame "the system" is ignorant and irresponsible. The war on drugs is also not forcing a specific race, color, gender, etc to sell or abuse drugs (which is another argument in this film). Its up to the individual to make the right decisions in life. Users and dealers know the criminal penalties related to drugs and don't have a right to complain when they go to jail for a long period of time. While the jail time is definitely harsh and outdated, it is there to protect society from people that could potentially harm it. In the end, I came away more upset and angry towards users and dealers because their lack of judgement, moral character, and responsibility is ultimately what hurts society. Not the war on drugs
November 21, 2013
This documentary will make you realise what the war on drugs is really all about. Should be mandatory viewing for all politicians.
½ November 17, 2013
A very good documentary about the true toll of the War on Drugs in America! It really gives an honest & old-school journalistic approach to the subject. It's not always easy to follow, but it is a very good idea to watch this film.
½ November 10, 2013
A heartbreaking examination of our nation's drug laws and the damage they cause. Highly recommended viewing.
½ October 27, 2013
The "war on drugs" is a term that I can remember since I was a kid, mostly from the "this is your brain on drugs" commercials. In principle, this is a very noble concept that should reap solid rewards; in practice, it appears the movement creates more systemic problems than it solves. Director Eugene Jarecki started out wanting to show how drugs ruined a family close to his own; instead, he uncovers perhaps some of the biggest misconceptions and core issues of the drug problem in the United States. It also helps that he hooked in the creator of one of the best dramas of all time, David Simon (The Wire).

Jarecki started out asking about how drug abuse hurt his Nannie Jeter's family (her sons were imprisoned or died too young). He also ties in other stories: an Iowa Judge who mostly handles drug cases, residents of the projects involved in the drug trade, users and dealers imprisoned for their possession (not necessarily use) of their brand of drug, prison guards dealing with the incarcerated, police officers on the drug beat, and historians with historical perspective on drug use. These other stories help create a larger perspective around the institutions that have been built around the drug industry and how the mindset of Americans needs to stop seeing the extermination of drug use as the core issue and the rehabilitation of people as a better use of the nation's resources.

As a movie, The House I Live In works because of general movie patterns. Behaving mostly like a thriller and mystery, Jarecki uses each person to give the audience insight into the different players in the drug game. He also curveballs the audience into thinking the movie is only going to be about the affect of drugs on people's lives. Once the historian (Richard Lawrence Miller) enters the picture, The House I Live In shifts into a study of how the "abuse" of drugs has previously been a guise for the groups in power to remove those deemed unnecessary for society from society (this is also a curveball, initially, the historical facts pointed to race issues mostly). By showing repeated historical trends plus facts about how drug use has remained unchanged despite the best efforts of all parties involved, The House I Live In changes course in its final act: it argues politicians and lawmakers have created a system designed to imprison subsets of the populous and not solve the bigger problem of rehabilitating and reforming these parts of society deemed unnecessary. The House I Live In can stand alongside other great documentaries (Hoop Dreams) that start out with a small idea and eventually evolve into a conversation starter about a broader concept.

Like any good documentary as well, The House I Live In has its share of gotcha facts and wow moments. I was totally unaware of mandatory minimum sentences of multiple years for drug arrests; I was incensed that crack cocaine has 100 times more weight than injectable cocaine (so 1 ounce of crack = 100 ounces of regular cocaine in the law's eyes?), and I was totally unaware of the pattern of drugs and racism across so many ethnicities and how we have become the most jailing country in the world. What makes The House I Live In's shock value hit harder than other documentaries is the fact that it is based in facts alone and weaves into the overall story. This isn't someone lighting a faucet on fire (which can be argued), these are real laws that are sometimes arbitrary in the way they were enacted, thus showing how systemic the war on drugs has become.

The House I Live In is a powerful showcase of the many facets of the world of drugs, from the front lines to the policy makers. The disconnect between those who create laws and those who have to deal with the consequences of the laws is a real concern raised by Eugene Jarecki and his narrator/filler David Simon. The House I Live In does what great documentaries do by getting people interested in the topic and hopefully creating interest among those not directly involved in the issue. I know I feel more enlightened and fired up, I can only hope others (since the incarcerated cannot create policy) who have a voice will start using it soon.
½ October 19, 2013
thought provoking and well directed
½ October 12, 2013
A terrible indictment of the War on Drugs.
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