Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Blue Caprice": dramatic reenactment of Muhammad-Malvo up to the Beltway attacks in 2002, with an existential warning

The film “Blue Caprice”, by Alexander Moors, is a dramatic reenactment, although a but telescoped, of the lives of John Allen Muhammad (original name Williams) and Lee Boyd Malvo, perpetrators of the Beltway Sniper Attacks (Wikipedia link) in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC in October 2002.  The title of the film is based on the automobile from which Malvo sniped while hiding in the trunk, as he was when the pair was apprehended at a rest stop on I-70 on South Mountain near Hagerstown, MD on Oct. 24, 2002. For a whole evening shortly before their capture, traffic was stopped on I-95 from Washington almost to Richmond, about 100 miles.  
    
The film starts in the Caribbean, where the older man (Isaiah Washington) meets Malvo (Tequan Richmond), and there is very early a conversation that “life is not fair” and that “life s..”, and something must make this right.  Muhammad takes Malvo to his original home around Tacoma, WA, where we learn that Muhammad had lost the right to see his kids after a bitter divorce, which the film plays up as the cause of his rage. Muhammad becomes “father” to the teen, in a relationship that is depicted as exploitive and rather sickening, although not erotic.   The pair goes to New Jersey, as they bounce around with a couple of gun-totting sidekicks, before the spree starts.
  
The film is a bit of a warning in that Muhmmad explains his plot as a kind of “helter skelter” (at least, that’s one way to say it).  He thought that asymmetric random attacks could bring the country to its knees, as if to cause martial law.  Wikipedia articles talk about prosecutors’ charges of his intention to extort various state governments and other authorities, but the film doesn’t mention these.  The film does not try to give a chronology of all of the attacks.  But this episode is likely to become the subject of a CNN “Crimes of the Century” documentary soon.

The film is shot in full “2.35:1” aspect, and I saw it at the West End Cinema in Washington before a relatively small late Sunday audience.  The soundtrack, as presented, sounded a bit muffled by modern standards.  The music background in includes an F#-Minor slow movement from the big A Major Sonata by Franz Schubert.


The link for the film us here. Sundance is distributing this film directly.
   
The apparently random nature of the crimes at first made me remember a few other bizarre unsolved crimes near Washington. These all need some good investigatory journalism and perhaps attention in film.  In August, 2008 a technician at JPL Kanika Powell was mysteriously targeted at her apartment (story here )   In November 2008, there was a mysterious shooting of security specialist Sean Green (account ).  In Upper Marlboro MD, teen Amber Stanley was shot at home in bed in an unsolved home invasion (story). These have remained cold according to media reports, perhaps a good topic for NBC Dateline, CNN, or ABC 20-20, or an adventurous documentary filmmaker.   A few of the most troubling (from several veiwpoints) cases in NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series deserve complete followup in documentary film, such as that of Rabbi David Kaye (story).  

Picture : I-95 construction in Virginia, July 2013.  


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