After the midnight movie last night, I got up this morning at the crack of 11:00 am, had a leisurely breakfast at the Sunset Grill, and eventually made my way to the 6:15 pm showing of The Killer Within, directed by Macky Alston. This was a phenomenal documentary about Bob Bechtel, a beloved professor of environmental psychology at the University of Arizona and a loving family man, who finally decides to reveal to his extended family and friends, and the public, what his immediate family has long known: that fifty years ago, as a student at Swarthmore in 1955, he shot and killed a fellow student. That’s where the film starts. “The Killer Within” is one of those films, which proceeds by successively peeling back layers of the story which undermine the story we thought we knew. Much of the story is driven by the efforts of Bechtel’s two grown daughters to understand what happened, and how the man they knew as a loving father could have done such a thing. Along the way, the film raises many questions of memory, guilt, punishment, retribution, and rehabilitation, and refuses to answer any of them. I was lucky enough to sit next to Dyanna Taylor, the cinematographer on the film, and got to talk briefly with both her and the director. This was an extraordinarily powerful documentary that grew in depth and scope as it went on. I hope to be able to arrange a screening of the film at UB for the Law and Documentary Studies Center.
The 9:00 pm film, The Last King of Scotland, was based on a novel and tells a fictionalized story of Idi Amin of Uganda and the naive Scottish doctor who became, for a time, Amin’s “closest advisor.” Forrest Whitaker played a chilling Amin, and the young doctor was played by James McAvoy (who also played Christina Ricci’s love interest in Penelope). The focus of the film was not on Amin, but on the doctor, showing how easily the almost-innocent can be seduced by the charm and power of a charismatic leader. The violence, while caught only in sidelong glimpses, was brutal.
Tomorrow I have a ticket for Blindsight at 3:15, but I’m going to try to get a ticket for another movie before then. I think deserve a nice romantic comedy, but I’ll see what’s available; a lot of showings are already sold out.