Media Update 1/31/19


Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

I was pretty young when Ted Bundy was executed (spoiler, I guess?) but as I grew up, his name was thrown around a lot. Bundy was not by far America’s first serial killer but he was part of a new wave of killers who changed the way law enforcement worked. He repeatedly crossed state lines and then moved across the country with a compulsion to kidnap and kill young women. He was good looking, he was charismatic, and many who knew him never would have believed he was capable of the horrible acts he committed. Yet, he did do those horrible things. There is truckloads of forensic evidence, a witness who pointed him out of a lineup, and he was sentenced to death in more than one jurisdiction. This documentary charts Bundy’s inexplicable success as a killer as he hid in plain sight and he lured many women to their deaths. However, it also tells a couple of other stories. It tells the story of two journalists who actually got in to see Bundy and had him explain why he did what he did while he was on death row. It also tells the story of the law enforcement agents and the lawyers who helped bring him down. It tells the story of his loved ones who were fooled into accepting the mask. It tells the story of his victims. It does not glorify Bundy. It details how he did it but it also tears his layers away and shows him for the monster he was. It is a disturbing documentary but a fascinating study of the media, human nature, law enforcement, abnormal psychology, normal psychology, the prison system, and how a courtroom works. I definitely recommend it.


American Crime Story 2: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

I was a big fan of the first American Crime Story (the story of OJ Simpson) which was a story I kind of remembered. This season was definitely covering a story I really had no idea about. I could probably count on one hand the fashion designers I can name. Back then, that number would have been zero. If the death of Gianni Versace was big news when I was a kid, I did not hear it. It probably goes to show how people in the nineties were afraid of gay culture that they did not really want to cover this. Or I’m wrong and this was all over the media. Either way, this season (and I’m currently on episode 5) is fascinating. It is not really about the death of Versace although that is a big part of it. Really, it is a study of his killer Andrew Cunanan who was a spree killer who often posed as a gay escort. It is also a look into the way gay culture and counter culture worked in the nineties. More importantly, it is a look in how a killer like Cunanan was actually protected by the way many gay people felt forced to hide large parts of their lives because of prejudice. Darren Criss is brilliant as Cunanan, an unhinged chameleon of a man. Some might compare Cunanan to The Talented Mr. Ripley but Cunanan bought every lie he told and the multiple lives he lived in his head seemed to warp him. The rest of the cast are each compelling as various victims, loved ones, and bystanders in a very twisted tale. It makes me excited to see what else they can do. I also recommend this.


Manson Family Vacation

The title of this one kind of irked me when I first saw it but it actually ended up being a good movie. The movie is really about the relationship between two estranged brothers who reconnect just as one of their lives is changing. The background of the story is one brother’s obsession with the Charlie Manson murders. He has a dogeared copy of Helter Skelter, knows every detail by heart, and can recognize the crime scenes by sight. And yet, the movie still ends up being pretty funny and touching. Part of that is that it never uses the Manson stuff as comedy fodder. It is always used as a disturbing thing that happened and the victims are respected and the horror is preserved. All while we see footage of Manson, learn details of his crimes, and even learn about his attempted music career. The story between the brothers has heart and their scenes together are the point of the whole movie. Jay Duplass plays the straightlaced brother who is successful and happy with a family. Linas Phillips plays the more artistic, more charismatic brother who has never seemed to get his life together. The push and pull between the brothers feels very familiar as I have been both brothers at different times in my life. I am the weird brother and I am the hardworking brother. It is a strange juxtaposition of seeing this story of two brothers with a backdrop of the twisted reality of the Manson Family. I also recommend this quirky movie.

Music of the Week:
Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It

Pkew Pkew Pkew – 65 Nickels

Slothrust – Double Down

Paul McCartney – Who Cares

Battle Tapes – Valkyrie

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Charismatic Killers”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4

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