Tales of the Grim Sleeper Screen 14 articles

Tales of the Grim Sleeper


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  • The killer’s various friends and neighbors, extensively interviewed, are excellent company, but digging up evidence that the Los Angeles police of three decades past didn’t much care about African-American women being killed seems like an exercise in duh.

  • Mr. Broomfield mostly keeps his showboating tendencies in check, and has found some good material. But it’s disappointing that he doesn’t give proper credit to the journalist, Christine Pelisek, who in 2008 broke the story that the Los Angeles Police Department had created a secret task force to investigate the case.

  • Ultimately, the grotesque and horrifying details about the crimes and the man who was finally arrested for them after too many years, while present in the film in as matter-a-fact a form as possible, are secondary to an institutional critique that’s that much more urgent in the aftermath of Ferguson.

  • Ultimately, [Franklin] proves to be less than interesting, and because they are so numerous, the dead young women end up being numbers. The real star of the show is the community, warts and all, and how it is perceived outside.

  • Broomfield finds his footing in the narrative, subordinating his persona to the testimonies of local witnesses and letting his outrage take over... There’s no shortage of compelling footage here, or of provocatively arranged sequences. Foremost is a stretch involving Franklin’s son and possible collaborator, Chris...

  • “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” is less polemical or argumentative than it is descriptive, almost anthropological. Viewers of different political persuasions might well interpret its findings differently. Yet the film’s gradual, observant accumulation of details has a singular and lasting power: you won’t forget the troubled, troubling world that Broomfield shows you.

  • Nick Broomfield’s latest offering may be his most restrained. Broomfield, never one to miss an opportunity to place himself front and centre of his own camera, inserting his own narrative into the stories he’s tracking, takes a back seat in Tales of the Grim Sleeper, opting to let another, far more qualified individual direct the trajectory of his documentary for him to the film’s benefit.

  • Broomfield’s sharpest, most substantial work in at least a decade, following two little-seen dramatic features (“Ghosts” and “Battle For Haditha”) and the lively but skin-deep Sarah Palin expose “You Betcha!,” “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” finds the veteran documaker doing what he has always done best: barging in where he’s not wanted and using his semi-affected persona of the bumbling, fish-out-of-water Brit to disarm people who otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day.

  • [...I have] no such qualms with his new, and I think, finest work to date, the mesmerizing, chilling and greatly disturbing "Tales of the Grim Sleeper"... Even if one did not see this film in the wake of Ferguson, [the film]registers like a brutal shock to the system. It is virtually impossible to not be appalled by the lack of transparency by Los Angeles police and prosecutors and how meager were the resources the city and county deployed to identify the severity of the problem.

  • Tales of the Grim Sleeper is something of [Broomfield's] magnum opus... Broomfield isn't so much dedicated to journalistic truth or social ethnography as he is displaying bodies and mindsets of individuals that complicate any sense of Manichean polemics, where good and evil must be reckoned with at a purely secular and corporeal level, particularly along the lines of class and gender.

  • If Citizenfour cast the American government as compulsively intrusive and invasive, then the opposite was true for Nick Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper. The British director’s impressive, but extremely upsetting, latest tells the story of a serial killer in South Central Los Angeles who was essentially left, with little interference, to murder scores of African-American women – many of them impoverished, crack-addicted sex workers – for more than 20 years.

  • An unfolding piece of messy and electrifying muckraker cinema, legendary director Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper is his best work in years. The filmmaker’s signature style remains intact, with Broomfield lurking from place to place, his boom mic in hand and trademark smirk across his face. But the characters he meets, the anger and horror that forces the story forward and the way in which it all dizzyingly unfolds is skimpy documentary storytelling at its finest.

  • These days Nick Broomfield seems to elicit knowing winces (which is certainly easier to produce than an actual reckoning with his techniques), yet there’s no denying the strength and the horror of his latest work, which delves into a jaw-dropping run of serial murders in South Central Los Angeles.

  • Tales of the Grim Sleeper is a compelling awakening to true and terrible crimes. Broomfield avoids an all-too-obvious condemnation of Franklin Jr favouring an exploration of the other hibernating forces at work. His contrarian stance will leave you questioning the true identity of the multiple villains of this piece. The answer is guaranteed to keep you awake at night.

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