By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It seems like there have been a spate of documentaries about war journalists and junkies captured and/or in many cases killed in the line of reporting in places too dangerous for the common newsman to go, like Theo Who Lived, Point and Shoot, The Journalist and the Jihadi, and Which Way is the Front Line from Here?
Not places you want to be.
Jim: The James Foley Story tells the story of another one of these men, one who you probably have heard of, perhaps the most famous victim of Isis’s explosive and horrific rise to the top of the boneheap of international terror.
This early 2016 documentary may have gotten a boost in the public consciousness when its credits song by Sting was nominated for an Oscar, but it deserves a place in the conversation about yet another banner year for the medium. Director Brian Oakes demonstrates a easy hand with the form and function of a modern, Errol Morris-indebted documentary, seamlessly blending interviews, slickly shot reenactments, and source footage into a comprehensive story of Foley’s abduction, imprisonment, and tragic end.
However, where this documentary truly shines is not in the recounting of a sad, internationally-covered story, but in the way it illuminates the man who would pursue a career like this, through the words and stories and loving confusion of the family and friends and fellow prisoners of his who perhaps can’t explain what made him tick, but can explain what made him such a blessing in the most trying circumstances imaginable, and ultimately such a loss to them, and to a world in need of more men of his character.
Jim: The James Foley Story doesn’t really have too many insights into the biggest questions regarding Jim Foley and men like him- why? Why go back? The other documentaries mentioned in the introduction are perhaps better places to go for a little more examination of that kind of psychology.
Jim: The James Foley Story tells a story that unfortunately feels all too commonplace, but which illuminates the life of a man who was clearly anything but.
Jim: The James Foley Story (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for each story demonstrating how stand-up of a guy Jim was
Take a Drink: whenever a family member also hints at or says how unreliable he was
Take a Drink: for every time Jim himself is in front of the camera
Take a Drink: for procedural advice on how to survive horrible situations
Do a Shot: when he goes back