Friday, July 28, 2017

Five Entertaining Crime Documentaries You're Sure to Enjoy

1 - Sour Grapes - How a geeky twenty-something conned the world of wine collecting (and ended up as the first person convicted of wine fraud in the US). If you love wine, but hate the pretentious nonsense that so often supersedes genuine passion for the grape, you'll enjoy this one a lot. The real hero here is the unassuming but determined third generation proprietor of Domaine Ponsot, who travels to the US, determined to unravel the mystery of who is counterfeiting his wines.

Stream-able on Netflix

2 - The Jinx - Frankly chilling miniseries based on the life and crimes of Robert Durst (maybe you've seen the Ryan Gosling film All Good Things?). I was convinced of Durst's guilt long before the final episode. Even so, I felt a genuine sense of shock when I heard Durst's off camera comments. While it's true, his mumbles could be interpreted another way, I think this is one of those times you go with your gut reaction.

Available on HBO and Amazon

3 - Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery -  A really fascinating insight into the art world--and the art underworld. I've seen a lot of films (both fiction and non-fiction) on art forgery, but I don't think I've ever seen one as informative and entertaining as this. Up until this documentary I think I dismissed the idea that forgery could be, well, an art in its own right. And while I don't applaud what this master forger did, holy moly he's an engaging guy.

Streamable on Netflix

4 - The Keepers - Given that I turned my back on Catholicism at age thirteen when I dramatically refused to make my Confirmation (and learned that if you're going to cancel a party, don't wait until the day of the party to do it), I'm not sure why I have residual defensiveness about the Catholic church. All those jokes about pregnant nuns and pedophile priests? Not funny IMHO. Be that as it may, this is the heartbreaking and horrifying story of the (officially) "unsolved" murder of a young nun in 1969 -- and the determined effort of some of her students to find justice for her.

This miniseries might be exclusive to Netflix? Not sure.

5 - Soaked in Bleach - If you wonder why Curt Cobain killed himself...maybe he didn't. In fact, after seeing this documentary, I'm convinced he didn't. Ex-cop now PI Tom Grant makes a very credible witness, and builds, I think, a pretty impressive circumstantial case.

Streamable on Netflix

And one bonus offering. I've mentioned The Imposter before. Nearly four years after he disappears from his home in Texas, Nicholas Barclay turns up safely in Spain claiming he was kidnapped. HEA? Keep watching. It's sad and creepy--and a cautionary tale about how vulnerable guilt and grief can make anyone.

Available on Amazon and elsewhere.


  1. Oooohhh... these sound good, especially The Imposter. I may have to do some binge watching.

  2. We love shows like this. The only one of these I've seen is The Keepers. We were riveted to it. I was so upset when there was no resolution at the end!

  3. That sounds very interesting. Especially The Keepers, Beltracci: The Art of Forgery and The Imposter.

  4. Thanks for the recommendations! Imposter was incredible. Stranger than fiction. I've watched The Keepers, I thought it was heartbreaking and yeah... it's just the Catholic Church, it's the corrupt power within these small communities that sickened me the most. I also like the various death penalty related documentaries Werner Herzog did, especially "Into the Abyss"

  5. These look great.

    I've heard of Soaked in Bleach and I saw Tom Grant do an interview on another program, but I haven't seen it yet (or any of the others).

    Thanks for the recommendations.

  6. Some of the best documentaries I've ever seen I caught by accident. I look forward to checking these out!

  7. Dear Josh, I don’t know if there is a documentary about them but have you ever heard about the Poisin Brothers? They “forge” great paintings but they do it openly. So in relation to them you really can talk about “the art of forgery”.
    Just a short excerpt of an article about them from their website:
    “The idea of three sixtysomething Russian brothers earning their keep by painting fake masterpieces in Berlin might sound like an off-Broadway farce, but that reality belongs to Mikhail, Yevgeny and Semyon Posin. In fact, their knack for creating copies of Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, William Turner, Leonardo da Vinci and other artistic greats for commercial purposes has left them with little time to work on their own art. Raised in Siberia, the trio first studiously painted imitations as part of their training at Leningrad Arts Academy. In 1984, they fled communist rule to relocate to Berlin, where they initially worked for other galleries before opening the Art Posin gallery in 2001.
    In step with their scholarly approach, they allow themselves only the amount of time the original artist took to complete a specific work. “If an artist only needed one month to do it, that’s what we do. We try to climb into the skin of the artist,” Mikhail Posin explained….” (Russian Brothers Gain Fame Replicating Monet and Da Vinci by Rosemary Feitelberg
    Frankly I don’t understand the “Hype” around Beltracchi. He is a convicted criminal after all. Can you imagine he has his own TV-show right now in a German public cultural TV channel? In my opinion he was very lucky with his attorney. His conviction was very low in relation to his deeds which he was allowed to serve in open execution. But indeed he must be very engaging. I read that most if not all the prison guards liked him very much since apart from being nice and friendly he used to paint portraits of them.
    However, if I get the opportunity I will watch the documentary about him. I like watching documentaries. So thank you very much for all of your recommendations.