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Like watching a car crash, with all the elegance implied.
It would be hard to imagine a more entertaining corrupt-cop documentary than "The Seven Five," a slick and fascinating portrait of disgraced New York policeman Michael Dowd.
It's a story you have to hear, from the guys who lived it and may never live it down.
I think people like Russell add to the toxicity, thickening the wall that separates cops from the citizens they're tasked to protect. But maybe we need someone as plainly amoral to make a documentary as good as The Seven Five ...
This kind of story has been told endlessly in dramatic movies and TV shows, but rarely has a film offered characters like these telling their own stories.
"The Seven Five" has been called "the cop version of 'GoodFellas,' " which may explain why Sony has plans to produce a fictional remake. Here's hoping that version uses a better moral compass.
It's not quite Goodfellas, but it's better than Casino.
Tiller Russell's fast-moving, invigorating documentary will make very gratifying viewing for fans of all those New York-set cop movies by Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet.
While Tiller is clearly a little seduced by the drama of it all, he's good at exploring the moral myopia that sets in when the view from the trenches elevates loyalty to each other above protecting and serving the public.
The talking heads approach gets a bit relentless, but it's hair-raising stuff.
Dowd's account to camera of his misdeeds is every bit as audacious as his criminal acts. A born raconteur, he pulls the viewer in just as he did to his various accomplices.
"The Seven Five" is a stylish and fascinating documentary about former New York City Policeman Michael Dowd who served ten years in prison on various corruption charges. Along with his testimony in front of a commission in 1992, the movie is framed by some very forthright interviews from Dowd, his partner Ken Eurell, various co-horts, and those charged in rooting out corruption in the New York City Police Department.(They are all so forthright, that one imagines a very lengthy pre-filming legal conference about what is covered under the statute of limitations. That would also make a great DVD extra, by the way.)
Dowd carried on with his extra-legal and illegal activities long after other members of his precinct stopped when a nearby precinct was brought down in a massive corruption raid, operating under the faulty logic that he was good because he was robbing from drug dealers and was not being caught. He was eventually brought down by Suffolk County police which still has one of the New York City internal affairs detectives shaking his head.(You have to be from Long Island to get the irony but trust me it's here.)
"The Seven Five" also tackles wider themes like the police in general, not just those at this very crime-ridden junction of East New York, Brooklyn in the 1980's. On the one side, the camaraderie of the police looking for each other can only be a plus in such a dangerous precinct as the 75th. On the other hand, this also prevented them from going to the proper authorities when one of their own was doing something very wrong and illegal which one subject regrets to the present day.
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