The HBO movie, You Don't Know Jack, about Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian, will air tonight at 9p EST, with weekend encores at 2:45a EST and tomorrow at 5:45p EST.
Directed by Barry Levinson (Rainman, The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam) and starring Al Pacino (with a strong supporting cast including John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, and Brenda Vaccaro), the movie has received mixed reviews from pro-lifers, as you can read in my April 22 post.
Most likely You Don't Know Jack will end up pleasing and displeasing both sides of the assisted suicide/euthanasia issue, as this Big Hollywood review by John Hanlon indicates...
I had expected the movie to paint Kevorkian in a positive light and I was pleasantly surprised that the movie does not portray him as a sensitive and flawless doctor trying to do the right thing for his patients.
In this movie, Kevorkian is seen as a strange and self-centered individual who enjoys being in the spotlight and courting controversy. He is very unlikable and can be cruel to his patients (which can be seen in a dramatic scene of a suicide attempt that goes wrong).
On the other hand, Dr. Kevorkian's legal opposition is not seen in a positive or appealing light either....
In terms of the patients seen in the movie, it is hard not to empathize with them. They often speak about the pain and suffering they are facing and their deaths are often difficult to watch. Whereas Kevorkian is depicted in a harsh light, his practices of helping patients kill themselves are often seen more positively. Unfortunately, the movie does not feature much of a discussion or debate about the issues involving end of life care and the practices that Kevorkian became famous for supporting....
So come back here and write your own review of You Don't Know Jack after watching it.
By all accounts Pacino gave an excellent performance. For Pacino fans, here's his 60 Minutes interview from this past weekend, which touches on the Kevorkian movie. (If you get glitches, which I did at least during the 1st commercial, try watching it here.)
I have the "broke law student" cable package, which sadly does not include HBO. So I'm counting on you to all to fill me in!Posted by: Kelsey at April 24, 2010 3:00 PM
Don't feel bad, I have the "broke parent" cable package which is also HBO free!Posted by: Elisabeth at April 24, 2010 3:07 PM
I don't have cable, period ("broke teenager"), but I've heard that the best word to describe this film is "fair," which is good. I don't know a lot about Kevorkian- I think that most of the trial and events that led to the trial happened when I was either a baby or long before I was even conceived- and, admittedly I first heard about him from an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (it's better than school, I tell you). There's an episode where Will is in the hospital and his doctor walks into the room and introduces himself and says, "I'm Dr. Kevarkian. With an 'a.'" But everyone keeps calling him Kevorkian anyways.
So, anyways...if it focuses on telling the story instead of picking a side, then I think that's great. And I hear that the performances are excellent- but who's surprised by that? :)Posted by: Vannah at April 24, 2010 5:51 PM
*Uncle Phil, not WillPosted by: Vannah at April 24, 2010 5:54 PM
"I don't know a lot about Kevorkian- I think that most of the trial and events that led to the trial happened when I was either a baby or long before I was even conceived"
I was born and not a baby, but I was young enough that I thought his name was Jack "The Vorkian".Posted by: Marauder at April 24, 2010 6:37 PM
Kevorkian: "Every city should have a clinic."
Kevorkian attorney Fieger: "Do we really want government making these decisions for us? No...."
Kevorkian attorney Fieger: "I support a citizen's right to choose."
... So many similarities.
In other news, the movie is caricaturing pro-lifers.Posted by: Jill Stanek at April 24, 2010 9:25 PM
Thoughts on the movie: It showed Kevorkian to be an eccentric, mostly unlikable man on an assisted suicide/euthanasia crusade apparently because he helplessly watched his mother die a painful death.
The movie showed 3 major drawbacks to legitimizing assisted suicide/euthanasia, aside from the fact they violate the commandment, "Thou shalt not murder," which includes oneself.
One drawback is the death may not go as carefree as planned. Hugh Gale's death was ghastly.
Another is those in control may propel the death forward even if a helpless patient changes his/her mind.
A third is the slippery slope continuum. Kevorkian started by having patients initiate their own deaths and ended by directly killing a patient on nationwide tv ("60 Minutes") by administering a lethal injection.
The movie portrayed ill and handicapped patients sympathetically. Of course. How many patients did I see die painful deaths in the hospital I felt sorry for? (I worked on a heart stepdown unit before going to L&D.) But the solution is to make patients and loved ones as comfortable as possible, not kill them.
Also of note, Kevorkian opposed death by starvation. I thought of Terri Schiavo.
I concur with HuffPo writer Lewis Cohen, an advocate of assisted suicide/euthanasia, that the Kevorkian debacle did his movement no good: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lewis-m-cohen/you-still-wont-know-jack_b_550256.html
Pacino was great. I'm sure he'll be nominated for, and likely win, an Emmy.Posted by: Jill Stanek at April 25, 2010 8:31 AM
"In other news, the movie is caricaturing pro-lifers." I don't really know what this means. Having lived this era myself and having found the document highlighted in the HBO movie, I was relived pro-lifers weren't portrayed as garbage pickers. I was relieved that the stunts of Fieger didn't make it to the screen. (And there were many to make us look bad)
How about the positive things in this movie about the pro-lifers? Such as Dick Thompson calling one pro-lifer a concerned activist? How about Mr. Thompson saying in this movie to Jack Lessenberry, "If this were legal this could lead to cost containing strategies." (Hello Obama Heath Care)
They show pro-lifers critical in gaining documents against the evil one. They show the document. They show how that document lead to a Coroners' Inquest. Without that, we'd never know how the Hugh Gale death went down.
Is someone going to tell me that they thought the Law and Order shooting of Tiller episode portrayed pro-lifers positively? It wasn't the pro-lifers doing the killing in this flick.
They could have made us look so bad and they really didn't.Posted by: Lynn Mills at April 25, 2010 3:48 PM
I hope to see it on video or basic cable at some point. Had a fascinating discussion with the hubster.
I love my hubby, but honestly, there is a lot out there that he hasn't really had reason to "think through"... until we got married, for example, he was pro-choice. After a couple of discussions he realized he just had great empathy for women in difficult situations and wanted to truly help them... not that he truly believed in abortion and now, after MUCH exposure to the cause, he is ardently pro-life.
However, we had never really discussed the euthenasia or assisted suicide issues... never really came up, I guess.
At first he said he was pro-Kevorkian. Then he realized he was just anti-pain. We discussed hospice care and what it involves. We discussed how in hospice people are able to get however much pain killer they need to relieve their pain... it is much like the discussions we have on here about induced early labor... when is it abortion... when is it not?
Well, of course, that comes down to intent. If the intent of the induced labor is to ensure the death of the baby, it is an abortion. If, however, like in the Josie Duggar case, it is to save the life of the mother and the baby's life is equally valued and the attempt is made to save that child's life if possible... even if the baby did end up dying, it would not be an abortion.
In hospice care, if the intent of the pain medication is to ease suffering, it is not assisted suicide even if it does hasten the inevitable death of the patient. If the intent of administering medication is solely to end life, then yes, it is assisted suicide.
It was a really good discussion, and it was so cool to see his face light up when he realized that he could actually be pro-no-suffering and pro-life at the same time.
Hospice rocks.Posted by: Elisabeth at April 26, 2010 10:25 AM