JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Crip Camp | Time (Directors: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham, Garrett Bradley) - April 25, 2021

Crip Camp | Time

4.5 4.5

A pair of must-see examinations of the “different” amongst us

Crip Camp
108 minutes
James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham
Four and one half stars

What took us so long?

Founded near Woodstock in 1951, forced to close in 1977 at that location after the cash ran out, Crip Camp (real name Camp Jened), began as a summer refuge for teens with all manner of disabilities (cerebral palsy, spina bifida, blindness, paraplegics, deafness…), only to become a hotbed of activists that would finally lead to the (reluctant, by many of America’s “leaders”), passage of a statute with teeth: the Americans with Disabilities Act (June 26, 1990).

In their own words:

“There’s no one like me.”

“There was no outside world.”

“Are you sick?” [Definitely not.]

“So [happy] to [finally feel a hand on my cock.]”

“One-time blues.”

Sometimes, “I want to be alone.”

“Stuck at home is like being in prison.”

“I had to fit into this world that wasn’t built for me.”

The San Francisco HEW (Health, Education and Welfare) was occupied by “an army of cripples” in 1977, for 25 days.

“We know what to do.” During the occupation, the FBI in their “wisdom” and “humanity” cut off hot water and telephones to the protesters. No worries, the deaf participants merely opened the windows and used ASL to sign their comments, opinions and situations to supporters on the street.

“The world wants us dead.”

Sadly, many of the politicos wished that those with disabilities would go away. The cost of actually making the “Land of the Free” accessible to all was not worth it for “those people”. Shame on Jimmy Carter, Joseph Califano and Ronald Regan.

The film is, at times, very tough to watch—especially if anyone of your circle has a disability now or then. Yet it seems the season to—cinematically—attempt to document and lay bare the atrocities of the past (see below) along with those that remain to this day.

Perhaps the most lingering image was seeing the 1977 protesters, literally, hauling themselves up the Capitol steps in 1977 (no lifts or ramps, of course). The very same steps where on January 6, 2021, the biggest liar in US presidential history urged his apparent supporters to overturn an honest election. The outgoing Commander in Thief having the biggest disability of all time: hubris. JWR

121 minutes
Garrett Bradley
Four stars

“Desperate People Do Desperate Things”

Here’s a far-reaching documentary that has a lot to say about its title, as “time” comes in many forms.

Prison time is at the heart of this ~20-year saga of the Richardson family. Unable to secure financing for their dream of an upscale (or up-culture…) clothing store, the Richardsons—(Robert and Sybil, along with a family helper), opt to rob a Shreveport, Louisiana credit union to avoid all of the paperwork…

In no time, everyone was arrested and soon sent to jail, but not before the timely impregnation of Sybil—again—which would produce twins: aptly named Justus—as in no Dad—and Freedom (as in what is desperately wanted).

Time meted out: Robert 60 years (timely plea bargain of twelve went MIA), Sybil (the driver in the caper) much, much less.

And so the film—shot so appropriately in black and white and told in non-linear fashion—follows the lives of Sybil and her boys hoping against hope for Robert’s timely release.

In 2021, it’s a sign of the times that Black men still fill the nation’s (U.S.) “systemic plantations” disproportionately, just as Indigenous men do in Canada.

As time wears on, the fatherless children break the trend and love up to their mom’s credo: “Success is the best revenge.”

What’s missing on the timeline is any notion of just why the failed robbery happened in the first place.

Still a viewing is recommended because, as we all should know, time will tell. JWR

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