Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Movie Review -You Don't Know Jack

The HBO movie You Don't Know Jack is a superb film about Jack Kevorkian's mission in life to ease the pain of the terminally ill by physician assisted suicide. Based on the book Between the Dying and the Dead, written by his friend and accomplice Neal Nicol, covers the period of time between the beginning of his first case to when he went to jail in 1999 for second degree murder.

There is a lot we didn't know about Jack.
He was an accomplished artist and jazz musician.
Many of his paintings are show in the movie. They are both macabre and fascinating. He was a self taught flutist.

A retired pathologist, he was still licensed as a MD in the state of Michigan when he did his first case of physician assisted suicide. This was performed in the back of a Volkswagen Van in a park using a unique contraption that allowed the patient of "pull the plug" on him or herself.

Al Pacino does a superb job of portraying this very complex man.
On Friday night I watched a current interview with Jack K. on the Bill Mayer show. It was uncanny how much Pacino took on the features of Dr. K. The supporting cast are also excellent.
John Goodman play Neal Nicol, his friend and supporter. Brenda Viccaro plays his obese older sister Margo who shares his desire to prevent in others the horrific death of their mother. Susan Sarandon plays Janet Good, a leader in the Hemlock Society who tries to help the odd Jack from completely turning off the public. She eventually becomes one of his patients when she has pancreatic cancer. Rounding out the cast is Danny Houston as Geoffery Fieger, the
"ambulance chasing" attorney who took on Kervorkian's case to get publicity for his own political ambitions more than to promote Jack's mission.

This is a story of a man with a purpose, who took on physician assisted suicide as a civil rights issue. He had great rapport and empathy with his cautiously selected patients.
His careful documentation, both in video and in written record, becomes the basis for this
remarkable movie.

5*****. No matter where you stand on this very difficult question, this movie is bound to touch your emotions.

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