You Don't Know Jack
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Angel of mercy… or murderous “Doctor Death”? Jack Kervorkian is one of the most polarizing figures in modern American history, a man whose passionate belief that people have the right to die has brought him both praise and vilification. Oscar®- and Emmy®-winning actor Al Pacino brings “Dr. Death” to life in an all-new HBO Films presentation: You Don’t Know Jack, directed by Oscar®-winner Barry Levinson.
Made for HBO, Barry Levinson's sympathetic telefilm casts an affable eye on a serious subject: the mission of Jack Kevorkian (a thoroughly de-glamorized Al Pacino). In the opening sequence, Kevorkian tells his long-suffering sister, Margo (Brenda Vaccaro, excellent), how hard he found it to watch their mother die a long and agonizing death. Convinced that the terminally ill deserve the right to die with dignity, he shares his beliefs with Jack (James Urbaniak), a Detroit journalist; Janet (Susan Sarandon), a Hemlock Society leader; and Neal (John Goodman), a medical supply salesman (the scenes of Neal and Jack playing poker recall Levinson's Diner). Before he's assisted a single patient, Kevorkian makes the national news, prompting Neal to quip, "You're not a local quack anymore. You're America's quack." Writer Adam Mazer profiles several of the 130 patients to take advantage of his "mercy machine," starting with Janet Adkins, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. For protection, Jack acquires the services of attorney Geoffrey Fieger (Danny Huston), who supports him through evictions, lawsuits, jail time, and hunger strikes--until Kevorkian engineers his own downfall by defending himself. As with HBO's Recount, Levinson adds archival footage at key points, such that Barbara Walters and others appear to play themselves. If he handles Jack's quirks with humor, he always treats the afflicted with respect, and if Pacino's accent skews more New York than Michigan, his pleasure in playing this strong-willed eccentric fuels Levinson's finest directorial effort in ages. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top customer reviews
before the act of euthanasia, if they really wanted to continue. The patient would have to initiate the process that would end his or her life.
Some of these people would have suffered protracted deaths without dignity. Their families would have had to watch them suffer pain, gasping for air, and inability to do anything but lie in bed and wait for death -home or in a hospital- while the family was left in enormous debt and the traumatic stress of watching the ill person progressively decay.
Some people say Kervorkian was playing God? But is it not playing God to resuscitate a person who will spend the rest of their life in a vegetative state with a feeding tube and bed sores?
First do no harm. This is the very well told story of one qualified man's fight to end the years of unnecessary pain and suffering caused by allopathic medicine and the laws that enforce it.
I am open to being sent royalties for the sequel ideas... which is... a follow up on the lives and impact on those who availed of the Service, and their survivors.
After the movie, I went to wikipedia to read more about Dr. Kevorkian, I admire his courage and determination. He is a hero as far as I consider, fought for a person's freedom to determine his own death.