Lies, mothers and homicide

Summer’s TV highlights.

Lies, mothers and homicide (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lies, mothers and homicide
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Liars – recent ones and those from way back – are the subject of two documentaries on YES Docu this month. On August 1 at 7:20 p.m., an award-winning documentary about disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong, The Armstrong Lie, will be aired. We all know the story – the cancer survivor who won race after grueling race and then turned out to have been doping all along. But somehow, director Alex Gibney, known for several acclaimed documentaries, including Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, manages to make the film gripping and dramatic. It’s amazing to watch Armstrong’s sheer chutzpah as he denies the allegations for years. It is also interesting to watch him dissemble as he finally is forced to admit what he has done. This isn’t the Oprah interview, about a fall and redemption. Gibney asks the questions we’d all like to hear the answers to and lets Armstrong squirm a bit. If the film has a message, it’s that we should all question our heroes and never let our desire to worship them cloud our judgment and rob us of our common sense.
One of history’s most famous liars, disgraced former president Richard Nixon – who insisted, “I am not a crook,” and then had to resign rather than face an impeachment process that would have ousted him from office – is the subject of the documentary Our Nixon. The film, directed by Penny Lane, will be broadcast on YES Docu on August 9 at 9:30 p.m. and YES VOD. It will mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation.
It is another story where we already know the ending but, unlike with Armstrong, we’ve already seen it told many times. But Lane has come up with a new way to tell it, using home movies culled from hundreds of hours of footage shot by Nixon’s aides Dwight Chapin, John Erhlichman and H.R.
Haldeman. We see the human sides of all these men: Nixon the strangely ill-at-ease politician, and his aides, whom most of us first became aware of when they were accused of crimes in the Watergate Scandal, relaxed and playful.
Women who have lost their mothers early in life often share a bond, and the documentary The (Dead Mothers) Club explores that bond. Katie Green and Carlye Rubin have made a movie that examines the lives of several women who have lost their mothers under different circumstances and adds interviews with three celebrities – Jane Fonda, Rosie O’Donnell and Molly Shannon. Fonda has written about her mother’s suicide, which was kept from her at the time but which she soon discovered. But here she talks about it, telling how she blamed herself for her mother’s death until she was well into her 60s.
The movie, which was shown just after Mother’s Day on HBO in the US, will strike a chord with many.
It will be aired on YES Docu on August 4 at 10 p.m., August 9 at 8:15 p.m. and on YES VOD.
Julie Delpy is the rare gorgeous actress who has turned her career around by becoming a successful writer and director and now writes great parts for herself. She co-wrote (and starred in) the second and third films in Richard Linklater’s trilogy about a French- American couple, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, and directed the film 2 Days in Paris, about another French-American couple, played by Delpy and Adam Goldberg. Her very funny sequel to that film, 2 Days in New York, will be shown on HOT Gold HD on August 2 at 3 p.m. In this film, she has broken up with the Goldberg character, and the new man in her life is played, in a very good, comic performance, by Chris Rock.
Season 4 of the series The Killing starts on YES VOD on August 3. This bleak, atmospheric show about a troubled Seattle detective obsessed with seeking justice for murder victims is one of the shows that people either find hypnotic and gripping or way too slow. But everyone agrees that Mireille Enos (World War Z, Big Love) is brilliant in the central role of the sometimes unstable but heroically devoted detective. Stephen Holder is also good as her equally troubled partner.