decided to start watching the Jinx after having seen kate mckinnon’s impression of robert durst on SNL. It was a great impression. mckinnon got the dark, evil eyes, and squint-spersed mumbling speech down but it was a little over the top. not so much because she had overdone it but because the premise of the impression was an improv show – is it entirely necessary for it to be funny?
a few years ago, i’d gone to the GV at plaza sing alone after a dental appointment (for which, i’d skipped school) and it must have been maybe 2 in the afternoon so none of the movies were fully booked. its always hard to decide on what to watch but i settled on all good things. frank langella and ryan gosling were in it; i like them (langella’s nixon is a stunning portrayal btw). the movie disturbed me quite a bit because i couldn’t figure out the motivations of ryan gosling’s character, david, who’s based on robert durst. he is evil but has good reasons for being evil, and though you despise his actions, you sympathise, fully and deeply. while the credits informed me that it was based on true events, it didnt really strike me as being particularly dark until talk of the jinx resurfaced memory of this.
durst gave andrew jarecki, writer and director of all good things, a call once he’d seen the movie. he asked if jarecki would want to interview him and, of course, jarecki obliged.
robert is the eldest son of seymour durst, an NY real estate mogul worth millions. the durst organisation owns 39 of NY’s office buildings in Manhattan, many of which are on second avenue. robert was accused of having murdered three people, his wife, kathie, who disappeared in 1982 and whose body was never found, his friend, susan berman, in 2000, and his neighbour, morris black, in 2001.
the documentary does such a good job of producing very important details by first, obscuring the context of those details, presenting them to you as if you were, yourself investigating the events in the case. and those details are reenacted carefully, such that the faces or colouring of re-enactments will not detract from you mind’s eye’s vision of how events had occurred; yes, you are seeing the physical manifestations of case files and recordings, but no, nothing actually intrusive is happening. what results is a question in the form of a value judgement. do you sympathise with robert durst, who has had a deeply troubled life, and do you think he is guilty?
it never does the job of answering the question for you, and even though you are presented with evidence that overwhelms you. you’re never made to feel a particular way about it. as much as they humanise the victims of those three murders, they humanise durst, the subject of the entire production. it says as much about the nature of morality and human evil, as it does about the durst case, specifically.
the most difficult part of watching this, personally, was having to question my own moral judgements. am i allowed to feel bad for durst? and if i do, what does that say about how i feel about what i myself am capable of, or what others who commit these acts do? but most importantly, supposing he is guilty, should i blame him?
it’s a really good interpretation of the greyness of morality and the complexities of being human.
“All my life, I’ve had more money than I can spend and it didn’t make me happy.”