‘Frank Ser­pico’ and other doc­u­men­taries.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - — Robert Abele

Con­sid­er­ing how of­ten po­lice re­form makes its way into head­lines, when is it not time to re­visit the re­mark­able whis­tle-blow­ing courage of leg­endary New York cop Frank Ser­pico?

If you’ve watched the Al Pa­cino movie enough times al­ready, there’s now An­tonino D’Am­bro­sio’s doc­u­men­tary “Frank Ser­pico,” an ex­tended ova­tion for the hon­est son of an equally hon­est Ital­ian im­mi­grant shoe store owner who told his son, “Never run when you’re right.” And as a young, in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic of­fi­cer in the late ’60s and ’70s he didn’t, rou­tinely speak­ing out against in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized cor­rup­tion in the NYPD, to the em­bar­rass­ment of city brass. (His de­fend­ers are care­ful to dis­tin­guish be­tween the mis­ap­plied term “rat,” which im­plies nam­ing names as a self-pro­tect­ing mea­sure, and what Ser­pico did, which was proac­tively ex­pose a rot­ten sys­tem so as to fix it.)

The long-re­tired, pe­ri­od­i­cally her­mit-like sub­ject makes for a lively par­tic­i­pant. He takes D’Am­bro­sio on a tour of his old precinct haunts, act­ing out mem­o­rable ex­changes — he re­mains proud of his role-play­ing un­der­cover skills — and re­vis­it­ing the apart­ment hall­way where he took a bul­let to the head.

There’s also plenty of archival footage, ex­cerpts from the Sid­ney Lumet film (and sto­ries about its mak­ing), all jammed in among the many in­ter­views with col­leagues and friends who marvel at how brave a change agent he was. Ser­pico fan­boy John Tur­turro read­ing aloud from Brecht’s “Life of Galileo” is a bit much, but for the most part this is an en­gag­ing re­fresher course in what fight­ing the power looks like. “Frank Ser­pico.” Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 36 min­utes. Play­ing: Arena Cinelounge Sun­set, Hol­ly­wood.

Sun­dance Se­lects

RE­TIRED NYPD of­fi­cer Frank Ser­pico talks about his years on the beat in a doc­u­men­tary about him.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.