Saturday, December 13, 2014

THE JOE SHOW: Randy Murray's doc about sheriff Joe Arpaio will leave you seething

You won't seethe initially, however. No. Because, as this new documentary begins -- it has been, so they tell us, eight years in the making -- it appears to be a humorous look at probably the best-known sheriff in our country: a fellow named Joe Arpaio (pronounced are-pie-oh, with the accent on the pie). TrustMovies first read about Sheriff Arpaio in an article from Harper's Magazine back in April, 2001. At the time, I figured that someone this crazy and nasty couldn't last long in office here in America. Then 9/11 happened, and all bets were off. Arpaio not only lasted, as the years passed, he's simply grown stronger, stupider and nastier.

This winning combination, in a time when money rules all in America (and more easily than ever, thanks now to our country's highest Court), has seen to it that a topsy-turvy and utterly ghastly version of "justice" reigns supreme in Maricopa Country, Arizona -- of which our Joe is in charge. Filmmaker Randy Murray, shown at left, clearly has the help of Sheriff Joe and his staff, and for awhile, as his movie unfurls, the worst you can say about its subject is that Joe is quite the narcissistic media whore. Hey, at this point that could apply to at least two-thirds of the population of the USA, and it's no crime, right? Just wait. By the time Mr. Murray's damning documentary is finished, we've seen how this pig of a sheriff has turned what should be a force for justice into the nation's largest miscarriage of same.

Filmmaker Murray wisely concentrates heavily on a woman named Lisa Allen, above, supposed Communication (sic) Director who appears to be in charge of PR and media attention for her boss. Initially, Joe and Lisa use the oh-so-willing media to hawk their publicity stunts -- like having jail inmates, when a new jail is opened, walk there in front of the cameras dressed only in their pink underwear, or even in earlier times, have his staff take to the streets and nearby plains to find the lost ostrich of one of his constituents. (The latter event made national news: Well, of course -- its so important!)

Joe himself bluntly states that he intends his jails to be places of punishment, and it seems that it does not matter that inmates who have had no trial are considered guilty and therefore worthy of that punishment. Further, the egregious amounts of money spent on Joe's ongoing campaigns to grab media attention appear to have depleted most of the funds used for normal policing. Consequently, hundreds of important cases go uninvestigated.

Then there is the little matter of all those people, guilty or not, who have been horribly injured or full-on died while in custody by Joe and his staff. This is the movie's turning point, after which, you'll have little patience for anything Joe, or anyone else in his corner or in his employ, has to say.

These would include the likes of actor Steven Seagal (above), Ted Nugent and one aged white supporter who goes out of her way to explain why she is not racist -- while indicting herself perfectly in the process. More interesting and to the point are folk like Professor Dan Ariely, below, who tries to explain the Arpaio phenomena, along with Noam Chomsky and Paul Penzone, the fellow whom we see running against Arpaio in the 2012 election, which Murray covers in some detail.

That election proves suspenseful, even if its outcome is not so surprising. Arpaio's use of the question of the legitimacy of President Obama's birth certificate is just nutty enough to gain him millions of dollars of support from Arizona's and wealthy and nitwit Republicans.

Juggling talking heads -- such as Arpaio's former friend and co-worker who must finally and sadly denounce the man, as well as media figures initially fascinated and/or happy to give the guy all kinds of play (including Larry King, below) who are suddenly faced with some of his more problematic actions -- with headlines and newspaper stories, archival footage and more, Mr. Murray has come up with a documentary that will stand for a long while as a testament to our current age of narcissism, money and power and what this deadly trifecta can produce.

The Joe Show -- from ID Films and Randy Murray Productions, and running a consistently interesting 100 minutes -- makes its debut on digital streaming -- via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, GooglePlay, Xbox, Playstation, and Vudu -- this coming Tuesday, December 16. If you have even a remote interest in the idea of justice and policing in America,
don't miss it.

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