In December 1996 a little 6 year old girl from Boulder, Colorado, named JonBenét Ramsey was murdered – her body found in the family basement. Green films in Boulder, Colorado, where Ramsey was killed, on Christmas night in 1996, on the pretext of making a dramatization of the story, and collects actors who live in the area. For all the reflexive, ostensible behind-the-scenes insight into the process of making a filmed drama of the Ramsey case (albeit one that Green only shoots a few scenes for), “Casting JonBenet” is disturbingly non-transparent regarding Green’s own relationships and discussions with the film’s participants. What brings her and the participants there, what intentions and decisions went into the making of the movie? Casting JonBenét Synopsis. Three historical documentaries—about police corruption, Rodney King, and Reagan’s media management—elucidate current conflicts. Casting JonBenet Documentary Trailer The Trailer For Netflix's JonBenét Ramsey Documentary Will Send Chills Down Your Spine March 24, 2017 by Quinn Keaney There’s freedom in recognition. 6 talking about this. 3. The other theme is the remarkable commonality of trauma among the auditioners, many of whom are forming their opinions from a perspective rooted in their own traumatic episodes. In the guise of letting the participants talk freely and granting them, in the auditions, a sort of personal agency and actorly freedom, Green hides behind the camera and turns “Casting JonBenet” into the “Jackass” of reflexive documentaries. Become a Member and support film journalism. Casting JonBenét, which first … Watch all you want. It culminates in a virtuoso sequence where all of the Patsies and Jons act out different scenes on the same set simultaneously. The exception to this rule is when an event causes us pain or embarrassment, to the point that it makes us question who we are as people. Directed by Kitty Green. 20 years later director Kitty Green visits the town and interviews local actors auditioning to play in a dramatization of the case. Very simply, what did the actors know about what kind of film they were participating in? Netflix’s new documentary, Casting JonBenét will explore the life and death of the young girl and will premiere on Friday, April 28. Released just over a year following the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the process of conceiving the film must have begun in the days after the event itself, lest the narrative be solidified in the collective consciousness in some other fashion that might call into question the story that torture led the successful mission. Casting JonBenet is a 2017 documentary film about the death of JonBenét Ramsey and the large impact it left behind. Thinking JonBenét was already dead or knowing she was fatally injured, her parents finished the job and covered up the murder. Local actors from JonBenet Ramsey's hometown offer multiple perspectives on her 1996 murder as they vie to play roles in a dramatization of the case. 1. © 2020 Film Inquiry. Trending Stories. Criticism is, in part, like medicine—valuable ideas and fascinating discoveries emerge from dysfunction as well. JOIN NOW. Watch Now on Netflix. Casting JonBenét is no midday movie. Here we see the manifestation of the rampant salacious interest that TV executives felt warranted a new series. The title of the film, Casting JonBenet, is a bit of a misnomer, as we only very briefly meet the girls up for the title role. All rights reserved. Like the OJ Simpson case, which saw renewed interest last year with an all-star TV mini-series and multi-part documentary event, the horrific murder case of JonBenét Ramsey has also crept back into the zeitgeist, with an A&E investigative documentary series and a network dramatized miniseries. A new documentary that’s premièring on Netflix today (and that’s also getting a brief theatrical run at Metrograph), Kitty Green’s “Casting JonBenet,” is in many ways a deeply unsatisfying, even infuriating film, but I wouldn’t want not to have seen it. From sexuality to economics, gender roles to histories of abuse, we bear witness to a  multitude of perpectives from which folks form their ideas about an event held in the public consciousness. She makes quick jumps from speaker to speaker, slicing their remarks into sound bites, and reduces most of the movie to stupid-white-people tricks, not because the people in the film are stupid but because Green condenses their remarks to their catchiest, kickiest, strangest, most intimate, isolating them from their context and emphasizing their humor, their irony, their weirdness, their incongruity. One of the frequent talking points of the Ramsey case was how Boulder is a quiet community without a history of crime or tragedy. Read Full Synopsis Cast + Crew Previous Cast Members More Cast Members. The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul was an inventive and intimate short film concept that Green has since used as a template to flesh out a feature-length version. In the guise of granting auditioners a sort of actorly freedom, the director Kitty Green turns the film into the “Jackass” of reflexive documentaries. Reviews Casting … I doubt that it was her intention to do so, but she renders the candidates’ ambition as vanity, their curiosity as foolishness, their pain as spectacle—all because of her simplifications of a complex and self-doubting documentary form. Green’s editing reinforces the sense that she is slotting the participants into her prefabricated plan. The scene is a whirlwind of grief which, in the context of the events it’s meant to represent, is that of a mourning family, but in the context of Casting JonBenet can be viewed as being for all of the rhetoric that came before, the trauma of comprehension. Kitty Green is not particularly concerned with conclusions, or even definitive truth in her new Netflix documentary, CASTING JONBENÉT. The lack of self-awareness employed while spitting this societally condoned vitriol demonstrates that these opinions are less about the Ramseys themselves, and more about a community eager to say “well at least I’m not like them“. Did Green actually intend to make a scripted film about the JonBenét story in the first place? A bottle drama that largely takes place in the mind of the viewer, Casting JonBenet in some ways seems like something you’d be more likely to find as a museum installation than on the world’s most popular streaming platform. More definitively, it underscores the film’s poly-perspective and themes of uncertainty and truth, which is the only true certainty. In a sense this is the anti-The People Vs. OJ Simpson. Casting JonBenet documents the casting process for a fictional film. The glee with which some place themselves about those of whose child-rearing they disapprove is, while somewhat understandable, a bad look at best and moderately disgusting at worst. He received his BA in Film Studies in 2010, is a documentary distributor and filmmaker, and runs Drunken Film Fest Oakland. When an actress auditioning for Patsy wonders whether a nine-year-old would have the strength to inflict the sort of injuries that killed JonBenét, Green has the boys smash watermelons with flashlights. Casting JonBenét is a good movie, one that could not be seen more than once because it doesn´t have that watchable thing, but it´s good enough to see it just once. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about cinema - get access to our private members Network, give back to independent filmmakers, and more. Casting JonBenet documents the casting process for the re-enactments in the documentary. The experiences of this group of aspiring actors from the same community shows that that has never been true, and certainly wasn’t the case in 1996. The film was directed by Kitty Green. Green also gets the candidates to play armchair detectives, speculating on-camera about the unsolved killing and trying to fill in the local background relevant to the case. Filmmakers explore the macabre legacy of the world's most famous child-murder case. Richard Brody on “Casting JonBenet,” a Netflix original documentary by Kitty Green that discusses the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey. It was 5 years after 9/11 that we saw United 93 and World Trade Center, but only three years after the Boston Marathon bombing for Patriot’s Day.Â. Casting JonBenét is all of these, and a brilliant original in multiple dimensions. You Season 3 Just Added 2 New Cast Members . Casting JonBenet features no expert talking heads or news clips, but rather relies of the actors’ testimonies, who are all local to the Boulder, CO region, to provide all the context the film will offer. She holds auditions for a variety of parts—the parents, John and Patty Ramsey, as well as JonBenét herself; the girl’s nine-year-old brother, Burke; the local police chief; a sex offender who falsely confessed to the crime; and even the Santa Claus who took part in the Christmas celebration at the Ramsey home. In compiling their impressions and recollections of the case, an overall picture begins to form not only of the processing of this specific tragedy, but of the processing of the processing itself. The interviews become a springboard from which to explore all manner of human thought and experience. Casting JonBenét premieres on Netflix on Friday, April 28. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. One hopeful Patsy Ramsey qualifies the statement she’s about to make with “from what I heard and sort of put together…”, which can be accurately applied to pretty much any statement made by anyone in Casting JonBenet. Lily Collins Revealed Emily in Paris' Age—and It's Confusing. Movie Reviews Great Movies Collections TV/Streaming Features Chaz's Journal Interviews. Deus Ex Machina: Acceptable Coincidence or a Cop-out? These interviewees represent not only themselves or Boulder, but all of us who got caught up in a national trauma and never got any closure. All we have to go on is speculation diluted by time, which is often wildly outlandish and a little hilarious but is mostly just depressing; another prospective Patsy, in offering her rationale for why she believes that her character committed the murder, says “she turned 40 and [Jon Benét] wet the bed”. He rarely dreams, but the most frequent ones are the ones where it's finals and he hasn't been to class all semester. Casting JonBenét is definitely not the next Making a Murderer. 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The time it takes for this to happen tends to vary on a variety of factors, but seems in recent years to be shrinking. Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. “Casting JonBenet” ’s real subjects are Green’s own connection to Boulder—whatever it is that drew her to the area to make a film about making a film about the case and, even more, her own connection to the film’s participants. 5 – 1980: New Wave, Cinema City, Jackie Chan & John Woo, The History of Hong Kong Action Cinema Pt. Vlad Kozlov and the Cast of IMMORTALIST and the Fiction of Science, THE UNDOING Finale: A Take On Domestic Abuse In 2020, 20 More Christmas Movies That Have Little To Do With Christmas. With Hannah Cagwin, Aeona Cruz, Liv Bagley, Shylee Sagle. The raw material of the unsolved 1996 murder of six-year-old US child pageant beauty queen JonBenét … He…, America is a serial memorializer. No one actually knows for certain anything about the case, it’s all being reported 2nd, 3rd, even 4th hand, over two decades removed from the event. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. The body of six-year-old JonBenét was found on December 26, 1996 in the basement of her Colorado home. Nor is it a click-bait, quasi-forensic ratings-grabber tainted by the compromise of primetime TV. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. But like Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, JonBenét is omnipresent in every scene in the film, defined primarily by her absence. How 'Casting JonBenét' Ditches The True-Crime Formula By Jade Budowski • Apr 28, 2017 Don't expect this unconventional documentary to solve any mysteries. She gets the boys auditioning for Burke, who was investigated in the case, to speak candidly about their family lives, their relations with siblings. Casting JonBenet is released on Netflix on April 28, 2017.Â. Borrowing a couple of techniques from noted narrative-muddier Errol Morris, Green employs an interrotron to audition the hopefuls for a host of other roles, from the police chief to Santa Claus, and intersperses these interviews with scripted reenactments featuring those we just met. Enter HERE for a chance to win one of five digital codes for a LORD OF THE RINGS & HOBBIT, theatrical AND extended bundle! 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That time goes down even more if it’s a story seen as a national triumph in need of swift historicizing, as in the example of  Zero Dark Thirty. To revisit this article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories. Casting JonBenét's unorthodox approach to its genre sets it apart in a crowded field, making for a uniquely thought-provoking true … Empathy is a much better look than condemnation. 'Casting JonBenét' Is A New Look At An Old Case NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to director Kitty Green about her new documentary Casting JonBenét… The 2015 Netflix docu-series about Steven Avery incorporated interviews, clips and other information important to the case. Casting JonBenét is a sly and stylized exploration of the world’s most sensational child-murder case, the unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey. The JonBenét case is one of the more famous unsolved cases, as well as one of the saddest. For each role, the casting videos are shot in a distinctive setting, with a fixed camera position for each set, and Green cuts from candidate to candidate in a series of jump cuts that turn the auditions into the visual equivalent of stacks of index cards or folders. The movie is not told through archival footage, but rather through a series of actors, all auditioning to play the key characters in a film about the JonBenét case. 7 – 2000-Present: Life After the Handover, The History of Hong Kong Action Cinema Pt. (One discusses the murder of her brother; another speaks of her mother’s diagnosis with borderline-personality disorder; another talks of the trauma of waking up to find his girlfriend dead in bed beside him; one mentions his son’s legal issues; and yet another discusses his own imprisonment.). What did she tell the auditioning actors about her project? Arlin is an all-around film person in Oakland, CA. Arlin is an all-around film person in Oakland, CA. Casting JonBenet. © 2020 Condé Nast. Kitty Green approaches the Ramsey case from a fresh angle in this mold-shattering meta doc. That said, Casting JonBenet is entertaining throughout, featuring a hauntingly ethereal score over thoughtfully composed cinematography, with plenty of moments of levity to make the thematic medicine go down easier (the line “if you tell someone a secret it is no longer a secret” is destined to join the ranks of American Movie‘s “it’s alright, it’s ok, there’s something to live for, Jesus told me so” as a documentary classic). Alas, Green doesn’t cast her net wide in search of candidates; all of them are white, and that limited range of perspectives hints at Green’s crucial omissions from “Casting JonBenet”: for a film that seems to be about the very process of its creation, how in fact did she go about the casting process, from the start? See Full Cast + Crew for Casting JonBenét Features Load More Features Movie Reviews Presented by … Plot. As the case remains unsolved and, though discussed exhaustively in the media by anchors and commentators, undramatized, there are still a lot of lingering narratives and feelings about what happened 20 years ago in Boulder, Colorado. The actors being auditioned only occasionally perform lines or scenes from the script; instead, they speak to Green about the case, about their personal connections to it, about their speculations regarding it. The title of the film, Casting JonBenet, is a bit of a misnomer, as we only very briefly meet the girls up for the title role. Casting JonBenét is the audition tapes of dozens of people who talk freely about their pet theories and their connections to the case. On closer analysis, ... One doesn’t watch “Casting JonBenét” to get the facts of the case, but rather, to see how misinformation has blossomed into its own narrative. What are your thoughts on Casting JonBenet? JonBenét Ramsey's murder is being examined in a new Netflix documentary premiering on the streaming service Friday. As is its function, the interrotron forces you to stare right into the eyes of the subject, creating a kind of intimacy that’s unique for film, an inherently distant medium. Enter Kitty Green, whose film Casting JonBenet seeks to create a new kind of media representation; one that combines both documentary and reenactment, while acknowledging the constructed artificiality of both. At the end, The movie changes what you might saw on previous documentaries. 11 months ago. But thanks to the incessant nature of the media firestorm around the investigation, speculation and rumors ran rampant – nowhere more so than Boulder, Colorado, where the events took place. Over the years, there's been a slew of investigative TV specials revisiting the 1996 murder of 6-year-old beauty-pageant star JonBenét Ramsey, but Netflix's documentary Casting JonBenét is … But like Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, JonBenét is omnipresent in every scene in the film, defined primarily by her absence. He hopes one day that the world recognizes the many values of the siesta system. As a young country with a relatively short history, we have an innate need to process tragedy collectively so as to canonize it as part of our national narrative, most often through media representations. Sign up to get our cinematic goodness delivered to your inbox every weekend. Ad Choices, Pay Attention to Movies Released on Streaming Platforms, The Tribeca Film Festival Captures American Injustice. But in the urgency of selling themselves to Green for the coveted roles, they divulge painfully intimate stories in the hope of establishing the bona fides of their emotional connection to the character they’d be playing. The essence of the modern documentary is epistemological: How do the participants—and, for that matter, the filmmaker—know what they know about the subject and about the film itself? Titled Casting JonBenet, the documentary starts with a similar image to Green’s 2015 short as a group of young girls line up for an audition. The New Yorker may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. Often these folks are more tempered in their remarks, seemingly in contrast to how personally they might have felt about JonBenét‘s story. In the months following the unsolved murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, responses were elicited from her Colorado hometown community, creating a work of art from the collective memories and mythologies the crime inspired. The film functions as a casting call for an unnamed, non-existent fiction movie about the 1996 murder of JonBenét Ramsey, the shocking unsolved killing of a … One is the practicing of America’s favorite past time: judging parents. All Rights Reserved. “Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard. 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Separate from the case itself, this alone makes Casting JonBenet worth seeing, as it could be de-isolating for those who worry their experiences are unique and thus not understandable. Casting JonBenét Critics Consensus. Analysis of the note says that it was probably written by a woman, which many believe to be Patsy. Green brilliantly gives us a film that offers the opportunity to collectively process this painful event without attempting to cement the narrative, recognizing that purporting to present any sort of definitive account of the infamous case is a fool’s errand. The juxtaposition of the real actors and their heartfelt interviews with their scripted performances, which are shot in widescreen to reinforce their artificiality, acutely highlight the absurdity of the entire enterprise of making a conventional drama about such tragic circumstances. But it is to be expected that a film whose subject is the murder of a little girl will leave people feeling shaken; it’s a tribute to Green‘s talents as a filmmaker that she was able to deliver one that’s also so enjoyable. Whereas crime docs typically seek to offer everything that is known about a crime, Casting JonBenet proves how little we will ever understand about that night. Every place has its folklore, a… Her death to this day remains a mystery. Did she coax them to divulge personal stories as a precondition to their audition, or did they simply come forth with their own stories, reflections, and memories as part of their efforts to be cast? Casting JonBenét explores many of the popular conspiracy theories about JonBenét's death but reportedly doesn't subscribe to any one theory … Two themes kept reappearing. 6 – 1980-2000: Handover & Second Wave, The History of Hong Kong Action Pt. We will probably never know. In “Casting JonBenet,” Green relies on the formalized settings of on-camera auditions to interview a batch of largely nonprofessional, mainly inexperienced actors about the unsolved killing of JonBenét Ramsey. 2. "Eclectic, eccentric filmmaking." Did they know that the casting videos were themselves the film that they’d be appearing in, and that the dramatization would be a slender and sketchy afterthought? by Ken Bakely Officially, we don’t know who killed JonBenét Ramsey. The film has a non-narrative format, patience-testing repetition, and formal choices that reflect and support the content, such as the auditions being shot in 4:3, perhaps as a subconscious signifier of our ’90s TV sets. The Handover, the History of Hong Kong Action Cinema Pt management—elucidate conflicts. Her prefabricated plan get our cinematic goodness delivered to your inbox every weekend My⁠â! 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