Full Frame 2018 – The Pushouts and In Cold Blood

The Pushouts  — Kate Galloway and Dawn Valadez (2018)

Education opens doors to all areas of life. What happens if students drop out or are ‘pushed out’ by the system? Who is there to help the kids in need? This documentary reveals the struggles of the minority population in California at risk of dropping out of school. Victor Rios, a professor in California, recounts his experiences living in such an environment and works with his past friends to form the organization Yo! Watts to help kids nineteen to twenty-five graduate high school. The movie uses past footage from other sources to illustrate the struggles that Rios overcame and has testimonials from other students. Rios encourages the students to journal and practice trust exercises in order for them to grow and overcome their situations. They share their struggles with others and gradually grow to trust one another. Rios and his friends focused on allowing kids to tell their own stories as part of the healing process. The documentary emphasizes that healing is gradual, the importance of helping kids set specific goals, and, of course, helping them achieve those goals. When these kids hear that they are problem children or at risk of dropping out, they are more likely to believe that they are hopeless and leave. Rios helps them see their situations as problems to overcome.  Staff work with these students in all subject areas and most show improvement in the program. This documentary will inspire everyone involved in education.

In Cold Blood (1967)

Two men, former convicts, attack and kill the Clutter family of four overnight. Dick and Perry took little money from the murder, fled to Mexico, and returned only to be captured and sentenced to death. This killer-focused movie, based on the novel of the same title, closely aligns with the source material and has a few excellent characters along with a few minor problems. Robert Blake, as Perry Smith, has the most amount of screen time and portrays the emotionally disturbed, daydreaming, and at times carefree character well. Scott Wilson, as Dick Hickock, expertly conveys the easily mislead and immature robber who has unrealistic ideas. The film focuses more on these two characters, much like the novel. However, the movie does not portray the Clutters often enough. While minimal screen time of the family emphasizes the randomness of the crime, the movie might have benefitted from more domestic scenes to make the audience care more about this family. Mrs. Clutter only appears during the flashback of the crime told by Perry at the end of the movie. No one mentions or acknowledges her except for one line by an officer and one newspaper headline during one scene. The character secludes herself because of a physical illness instead of a mental one like the novel, but they could have had her for a quick line at the beginning so the audience knows that the mother exists. The community hardly receives any focus either after the murders. Overall, the movie still expertly focuses on Dick and Perry’s moral dilemma, but the director could have shifted some of that focus toward other characters.

For more on In Cold Blood, click here.

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