Readable, watchable, disputable mysteries - something to argue over
December 16, 2015 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Looking for Documentaries or Articles with deliberate ambiguity but where the implications are grave.

I recently watched a great HBO documentary called "There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane" - which is about a horrible tragedy (8 people died) involving a mother driving head-on into traffic.

The compelling part of the documentary is how much is left out. The "reason" behind the incident, despite the filmmaker's attempts to draw out information, is deliberately left opaque. In this circumstance, Diane could have been a) suffering a medical emergency, b) an alcoholic, c) suicidal or d) something else.

I'm looking for recommendations for mysteries like this: ambiguous but with enough information to solicit discussion or debate. Another good example would be "Capturing the Friedmans" or this fabulous article from Vice:

I'd be looking for online articles, long reads, documentaries or true-crime books. Or even just anecdotal local mysteries!
posted by Dressed to Kill to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Whoops - here's the article "My Grandma the Poisoner": Link
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:12 AM on December 16, 2015

Bowling for Columbine has a huge agenda, but you're generally left with no substantive conclusion, which I think is what you're looking for.
posted by General Malaise at 8:15 AM on December 16, 2015

I had mixed feelings about The Imposter myself, but it's definitely one of those movies.
posted by thetortoise at 8:19 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Serial podcast sounds like exactly what you want.
posted by yarntheory at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: As for long reads along these lines, this one about the "welfare queen" of Reagan's mythmaking is excellent.
posted by thetortoise at 8:27 AM on December 16, 2015

Nthing Serial, and also the Criminal podcast might fit the bill.

How about the three Paradise Lost movies?
posted by getawaysticks at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2015

Best answer: Netflix is releasing Making a Murderer in 2 days, and that sounds exactly up your alley.
posted by xingcat at 8:34 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of the Dateline-type mysteries are like this. They present one side of the story at a time. The first half of the show you're all like "they are totally innocent!" Second half of the show - "totally guilty". But in the end, there's not quite enough information to really have a satisfying outcome/conclusion. I've had a lot of great debates and discussions based off these mysteries.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:38 AM on December 16, 2015

There's a TV show called City Confidential that I remember being like this. It was on A&E in the early 2000s, but I don't know if it is available on streaming any where.
posted by OrangeDisk at 9:03 AM on December 16, 2015

Best answer: I haven't seen the whole thing, but you might like The Staircase.
posted by eponym at 5:57 AM on December 18, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you!

If anyone thinks of any more, please add.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:18 AM on December 23, 2015

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