Dirty Cops. Drug Dealers. Corruption. Power. Money. The makings of the perfect thriller. I’d watch that movie. But, the movie in question is no big screen blockbuster.
If you’re in the mood for a story about the dirtiest cop who ever lived, look no further than PRECINCT SEVEN FIVE – director Tiller Russell’s chronicle of NYPD officer Michael Dowd’s criminal enterprise. It’s a thrilling account of a little-known scandal that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor on more than one occasion.
In the spirit of PRECINCT SEVEN FIVE out today on download and on the 28th of December on DVD, we’ve picked 7 other documentaries that are just as engrossing. You can check those out below.
COCAINE COWBOYS (2006)
This 2006 documentary from director Billy Corben chronicles the rise of cocaine and the escalating drug war in Miami from the 1970’s through the 1980’s. Blending footage from local news programs, real crime scene photos, and interviews with dealers, lawyers, politicans, and more, the film is a stirring reminder of the devastating violence that gripped the coastal Florida community and took many lives in the process.
If you pair this film with the Netflix drama NARCOS – a series that chart’s the exploits of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar – you’ll see that both sides paid a hefty price.
THE THIN BLUE LINE (1988)
This classic documentary from director Errol Morris unfolds with all the thrills and mystery of your average police procedural, but with even more twists and turns. We watch as Morris details the murder of a Texas police officer in 1976 and the ensuing aftermath that followed.
The main suspect – a man named Randall Adams – is arrested and swiftly convicted for the crime, but as Morris uncovers new layers of evidence that were withheld during the trial, a new suspect emerges, and the reality of Adams’ guilt becomes more and more unclear.
The fallout from Morris’ investigation leads to some pretty unexpected places, and it remains one of the most powerful documentaries of all time.
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (2005)
An especially timely documentary, ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM profiles the demise of the famed Enron Corporation and the men at the top who drove it into the ground. Led by founder Kenneth Lay and his hand-picked CEO Jeff Skilling, Enron created an investment scheme that essentially devalued its stock, made them millions, and left hundreds of unsuspecting employees without jobs or pennies to their names.
The film carefully reveals the complex shell game that Skilling and Lay used to dupe investors, and it’s as fascinating as it is maddening. Definitely worth a watch. One of Alex Gibney’s finest.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS (2003)
Director Andrew Jarecki chronicles the widely-publicized case of The Friedmans, a New York family whose patriarch becomes the target of a widespread child molestation scandal. Arnold Friedman was a computer teacher who taught children out of his home in the 1980’s. After police discover his proclivity for child pornography, an investigation into whether or not he abused his students becomes the first big media-driven witchhunt despite rumors of coercion.
Told through home videos and interviews with all involved, CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS is a fascinating examination of a crime that may or may not have occurred. It’s up to you to decide.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2006)
Allegations of sexual abuse have plagued the Catholic Church for decades, and in her 2006 documentary DELIVER US FROM EVIL, director Amy Berg puts a face to the monster in the form of Father Oliver O’Grady.
O’Grady recounts several instances with stark and horrifying detail in which he used his power and status as a priest to prey on young children. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but the film itself is important in that it forces a conversation that many don’t want to have. A truly chilling work.
INSIDE JOB (2010)
In 2008, the world came to a standstill as global economies began to fall and markets plummeted. In the months that followed, ordinary citizens still didn’t understand what happened. Nobody knew what “credit default swaps” or “sub-prime mortgages” were, but we wanted answers.
In 2010, Charles Ferguson set out to answer those questions with INSIDE JOB, a film that explores the sequence of events that made it possible for powerful CEOs and finance firms to treat the global economy like a casino, using our livelihoods as a means to line their own pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s fascinating, eye-opening, and infuriating.
THE ACT OF KILLING (2012)
In the 1960’s, an uprising in Indonesia led to a toppled government, and the mass murder of roughly a million citizens who were accused of being communists. Director Joshua Oppenheimer revisits those events by allowing the men responsible – who have never been imprisoned for their crimes – the opportunity to recreate their murders and torture techniques in any style they choose.
The results are more chilling than you could ever imagine. THE ACT OF KILLING is a masterstroke, and one of the best documentaries of all time.
Precinct Seven Five is out to download now and on DVD 28th Dec