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Sunday, January 15, 2017

'37' DVD: Docudrama on Rape/Murder of Kitty Genovese

Extraordinary New York-based indie art-house theatrical/DVD/Blu-ray foreign film company Film Movement brings it home regarding the January 3, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 drama "37." This docudrama tells the story that every high school or college sociology student in the past 40 years knows; the March 13, 1964 rape and murder of Queens resident Kitty Genovese that her literal friends and neighbors watch without doing so much as calling the police.

Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2016 Moscow International Film Festival writer/director Puk Grasten puts faces to the names of the victim and to those who do not step in during the worst night of her young life. She does so by focusing on the tales of the latter in the day leading to the event that truly lives in infamy.

The following YouTube clip of the "37" trailer offers a glimpse of the drama of the film and shares the significance of the title.

Much of the focus is on the black family the Smiths; "The Wire" and "True Detective" actor Michael Potts plays Archibald Smith, whose upward mobility consists of moving his family from Harlem to the otherwise all-white apartment building in Queens where Genovese lives and to which she returns on the night of her fatal attack. Archibald is a stereotypical strong and proud man whose pregnant wife Joyce takes a much kinder and gentler approach than him regarding raising their young son Troy.

The next most prominent residents are the 60-something Jewish couple George and Florel Bernstein, who are raising their highly quirky tween granddaughter Debbie.

Getting to know the Smiths, the Bernsteins, and their neighbors puts their response (or lack thereof) regarding the rape in perspective. One can understand their reasons for not wanting to become involved.

Grasten nicely uses a properly restrained tone throughout. Other than the Smiths moving into a new home, the characters go about their daily lives with the same challenges with which they must constantly contend. These include the neighborhood children understandably (but still hurtfully) shunning Debbie and everyone dealing with the obnoxious rambunctious boys whose seemingly constant pranks include yelling "fire" in the hallways.

Potts and the rest of the cast delivers strong performances As indicated above, they provide a strong sense of ordinary people who are not evil or callous but have led lives that provide good reason to not step in to help their fellow man when doing so likely will prove the adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding "37" is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.