It’s just not as interesting without Robert Durst : NPR

The curse was interesting because the murderer Robert Durst was a horribly fascinating interview subject. The Jinx – Part Two falters without his involvement.


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The curse was interesting because the murderer Robert Durst was a horribly fascinating interview subject. The Jinx – Part Two falters without his involvement.


HBO The curse, which aired in 2015 (yes, nine years ago), was a major contributor to the boom in true crime television and audio. It was released the same year as Netflix’s Make a murderer and only a few months after the first season of the podcast Serial. However, few subsequent attempts have been as successful, as they lack The curseThe secret weapon: the participation of the extraordinarily strange, compulsively talkative and now deceased subject, Robert Durst.

The story of the documentary series is as follows: Durst had long been suspected of both the disappearance of his wife, Kathie, in 1982 and the shooting death of his best friend, Susan Berman, in 2000. He had admitted having shot his neighbor, Morris Black. , in 2001, but was acquitted by a jury based on a theory of self-defense. For reasons known only to him, Durst chose to live his life as an ultra-rich real estate mogul, but also to spend extensive interviews with director Andrew Jarecki to The curse to discuss the alleged crimes.

It was these interviews that made The curse so convincing. Durst couldn’t stop himself from speaking, even though remaining silent was obviously in his best interest. This extended to a hot mic incident that Jarecki treated as an explosive confession, although it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that. The day before the finale aired, Durst was arrested for Berman’s murder, based in part on evidence the documentarians had uncovered and provided to law enforcement. This follow-up series primarily covers his trial and the period leading up to it. But it also lacks the punch that Durst’s presence gave the original.

There are some things about the self-referential nature of this second chapter that are a bit unpleasant. The curse became part of Durst’s life story after his arrest. The filmmakers show some footage from the series finale viewing party they threw in 2015 for (among others) the family of the missing first wife Durst is suspected of killing. We observe their (apparent) relief and gratitude when the “confession” is played. Not displayed: the incident reported in The New York Times in which another guest at the same party (Rosie O’Donnell, for some reason) immediately asked why the filmmakers would hide this evidence from law enforcement to use as a trigger for the series, a question that played out in the press as well, as well as other difficult questions about the making of The curse. But the way the group of spectators is presented Second partno one felt anything other than vindication and gratitude.

It seems questionable to host a viewing party for a putative victim’s family and film their reaction to your big reveal about their murder, and a bit sketchy to omit parts where people weren’t sure you do the good deed you think you are doing. .

From an ethical point of view, these things raise certain questions. But as television, the biggest problem with the episodes HBO offered to critics (four out of six) is that they’re pretty boring. Without Durst’s involvement (it appears he eventually stopped participating in documentary making after his arrest and died shortly after his conviction), the series often seems hungry for revelations. It also relies heavily on reenactments, which aren’t particularly visually interesting and look a lot like every other true crime reenactment on TV.

The third episode is the best of the four; without spoiling it, it sheds a little extra light on the story, if you’re still looking for it. But what The Jinx – Part Two reveals is that The curse It was interesting because while Durst may have been a murderer, he was also a horribly fascinating interview subject. While there’s a tape of phone calls here from his incarceration, and sometimes you get those “Bob being Bob” moments, the fascinating aspects of the original aren’t there.

It’s unclear what might happen in the final two episodes; perhaps they have more to say, and that is why they have been kept away from criticism. The great revelations of The curse came in the last two episodes, after all. But in the meantime, this feels like a detective series in search of a mystery, a true detective series with limited truths to share.

This piece also appeared on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter so you don’t miss the next one and receive weekly recommendations on what makes us happy.

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With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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