O.J.: Made in America Screen 92 of 23 reviews

O.J.: Made in America

2016

O.J.: Made in America Poster
  • After watching this absolutely penetrating, perfectly structured episodic television study of this era-defining event... any attentive viewer will no longer be able to think of the murder trial as a contained event with its own beginning and end. This devastating television miniseries reminds you that history—personal or public—exists on a continuum.

  • Ezra Edelman’s often operatic, occasionally textbook attempt to fully contextualise the quintessentially American tragedy of the football and advertising icon turned murder suspect... What keeps the epic multi-part series from feeling like just another binge-y true-crime number is the intelligence and sobriety of Edelman’s storytelling. You can’t look away, and what he shows you is clear-eyed and invaluable.

  • Great journalism or great cinema? I lean toward the former, but if treating O.J.: Made in America as a marathon film is going to be a requisite for granting it the credit it's due, I'm happy to fall in line. Ezra Edelman's riveting investigative saga, divided into five hour-and-a-half installments and released as part of ESPN's 30 for 30, ransacks the multi-tiered complexities and implications of both the public and anecdotal records of O.J. Simpson's notorious murder case in the mid-nineties.

  • The five part documentary that deepens the headlines, the crime and the court case, and digs more profoundly into American race relations via one of our most famous fallen heroes -- O.J. Simpson. It's also historically important and deeply tragic (it also goes further with the fate of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman), merging great cinema with great journalism -- powerful, complex. I was riveted and, by the end, very sad.

  • Edelman's meticulous and expansive journalistic endeavor reveals the DNA strands of race and celebrity running perpetually antiparallel in America, and how the rise and fall of football legend O.J. Simpson intersects with them both. No historical stone goes unturned, no story ignored, no voice is silenced.

  • Assiduously researched and seamlessly assembled, Ezra Edelman's nearly eight-hour documentary about the disgraced football star is also a treatise on race, celebrity, the pathologies of sports culture, and the criminal justice system — it is, in other words, a potent précis on this country's past half-century.

  • One of the most engrossing experiences I’ve had this year. It doesn’t feel like 5 hours. It is an in-depth cross-examination of the way race and class intersect and interact in America, a topic that could not be more timely. I practically had PTSD flashbacks watching it, because it brought that whole nightmare back... It’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s difficult to watch at times, especially if you lived through it the first time. But it leaves no stone unturned.

  • There are multiple rich thematic seams here. The personal arc suggests not just Fitzgerald, but Welles: there is Othello, of course, the outsider hero with an overweening desire not just to belong but to possess; the hubris of Arkadin, that need to obliterate anything that could sully his carefully cultivated myth… Hank Quinlanmakes an intervention in the guise of investigating officer Mark Fuhrman, a racist cop accused of planting an incriminating glove at OJ’s home.

  • The film is one of the great works of American cultural history over the last half-century. But it infuses that imposing breadth with the singular, personal story of a man who, in effect, at the height of his public life, found his triumph and his tragedy iconographically representative of an American ideal, and the dissolution of it.

  • There’s a tradition of documentaries that dig into their subjects episodically, sometimes at monumental length. Such is the case with Ezra Edelman’s “O.J.: Made in America,” which for close to eight hours takes up the case of O. J. Simpson to create a titanic inquiry into race, class and celebrity in the United States. Race may be a construction, but it is one that Americans continue to live and die by.

  • Because O.J.: Made in America appeared between the emergence of #BlackLivesMatter and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, there’s a temptation to call it “timely,” but Edelman never sacrifices the specifics of his story for trite historical syllogisms. As much as it is about a continuum of race relations, it’s about the exact details of a recent, distant past when, per one of the acquitting jurors, “We took care of our own.” The past, as the saying goes, is another country—and here it’s our country.

  • This film tries so hard to be about "America today," but at some point around hour five it transcends this present moment and becomes a grotesque exploration of sycophancy, best personified, I think, by O.J.'s wealthy Brentwood neighbors who, two decades later, can still barely hide their hard-ons for that black stud and his foxy white wife god bless her soul but what did she expect? Soulless courtesans, every one.

  • It ends with O.J.'s sad entreaties to history: "Please remember me as the Juice. Please remember me as a good guy. Please." That's not how he'll be remembered, but Edelman makes the persuasive case for O.J.'s life as a crucial inflection point for America at the end of the 20th century. The best possible takeaway from the wreckage is that it forced us, then and now, to look in the mirror and understand ourselves a little better. This film, all 450 minutes of it, does that service masterfully.

  • Although Ezra Edelman’s documentary is set out clearly in five episodes of roughly 95 minutes duration, his work is cumulatively bigger than the small screen. This almost biblical story of a man who is both the hero and villain of his own life, of sport and race and class and celebrity and money and the media and the justice system in America, “is bigger than all of us” says his former prosecutor Marcia Clark, and it speaks to us all.

  • How could close to 150 million people watch with rapt attention the exact same televised trial and come away with such passionately different responses to the verdict? Ezra Edelman’s epic, important and masterful documentary, O.J.: Made in America, spends close to eight hours exploring why you might have felt very differently from your neighbor. And, despite its length, nothing included is filler.

  • [In some ways] Edelman’s miniseries improves upon The People v. O.J. Simpson’s depiction of Simpson, in which Gooding, Jr.’s performance presents the character as something of a cypher, displaying none of the charisma and charm “The Juice” was once known for. It’s an important corrective, especially for those who many only remember Simpson for being accused of the murders of Brown and Goldman.

  • It’s more than three hours before Made in America arrives at the condo on Bundy Drive in California, where in the middle of the night of June 12, 1994, Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered. Those three hours are put to intelligent, rewarding use.

  • Surprising in its historical scope and intensely personal in its use of archival photographs and home video, Edelman’s epic and sweeping film elicits empathy in the unlikeliest of places.

  • [When the Levees Broke] was, as its subtitle suggests, a requiem for a city that lives in the imagination of the world, but also a holistic indictment of the way a nation failed its most vulnerable citizens, those who reside in the disenfranchised intersection of race and class. It’s the most powerful and essential documentary of modern America — and O.J. Simpson: Made in America is its equal and successor.

  • Passes my stringent "Would I rather be reading a book on this subject?" test, as 7.5 hours allows for roughly equivalent thoroughness. It still omits details that a book would surely address... But said thesis is gratifyingly provocative and artfully constructed, making a persuasive case that Simpson was acquitted both because he was black and because he was (effectively, symbolically) white.

  • Not always as elegant as it wants to be in how it ping pong among its many threads, but the accumulative effect is strong particularly when it finally moves to the post trial material. My other small problem is that Edelman strategy of letting subjects often hang themselves can be often effective, but it also lands to he sometimes be a bit too comfortable in not pushing back more in some cases (particularly when dealing with lawyers on both sides).

  • Despite having much in common [with When the Levees Broke] (vital American subject, sprawling length, magisterial tone, intersection of race and politics), Lee's film is organized not only according to chronology but also by following certain affective topoi that Edelman simply doesn't engage. This is journalism, not cinema.

  • A documentary about modern times that seem like ancient history, and it’s made with an aesthetic to match. Edelman’s deep and extensive archival research and his wide-ranging interviews have no existential element; there’s no drama of discovery built into the movie. For that matter, there’s virtually no drama in it at all. Rather, it’s a film of information, a documentary that seems built for an age yet to come, in which its audio and video elements will be searchable.

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