film 5 of 7

Law and Order

Film Review by Dean Duncan Aug 29, 2014

The things people will do in front of a camera! There they are putting a choke hold on that innocuous prostitute, and then just as on-screen denying that it happened. A few of these incidents put you in mind of Hunter Thompson’s Las Vegas pigs (1972), or the facile Easy Rider (and less facile Medium Cool) picture of the establishment. These were tough times! On the other hand, there’s so much more and other going on, including pig policemen turning around and being sincerely courteous and caring. And then there’s that pointed conversation about how much money they are or aren’t making. In the end Frederic Wiseman’s great documentary is much more than a screed or a curio; these decades later it speaks to archetypal patterns of intermingled presumptuousness and benevolence in the exercise of power. And in the end—give that baby some candy—the cops come off pretty well. Also, in the end, Wiseman’s whole method is kind of awe-inspiring.