The Movie: “Long Shot”
The Year: 2017 (technically 2003)
The People: Juan Catalan as himself, a man accused of murder; Alma Oseguera as herself, Juan’s girlfriend; Melissa Catalan as herself, Juan’s young daughter; Todd Melnik as himself, Juan’s criminal defense attorney; Larry David as himself, the star of the show that was being filmed at Dodger Stadium the night of the murder; and Sam Fernandez as himself, General Counsel to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The (Kinda) Non-Revealing Plot: Juan Catalan was accused of murdering a young woman on May 12, 2003. He maintained his innocence throughout the many hearings and interrogations he went through. With all the people who had helped attorney Todd Melnik exonerate Juan present (yes, I ruined the fact that he got exonerated — don’t watch this if that’s all you care to find out about), this documentary captures many of the perspectives of the night of the murder and legal battle that changed Juan’s life forever. Notably, however, none of the prosecutors or detectives on this case agreed to be interviewed for the documentary.
Unofficial Genre: The film is a crime mini-documentary, plain and simple.
My Opinion (Emotional): This story floored me. From the first footage of Juan in court, I could see the fear and worry in his eyes. That theme ran throughout the entire 40 minutes. One gut-wrenching example of this is when Juan’s daughter testifies in front of him as a witness. As she slowly responds to a lawyer’s line of questioning, the camera pans to Juan, red in the face and crying. In retrospect it’s easy to say I immediately sympathized with Juan because, as a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2000–) fan, I had read about this case many times and knew its outcome. But the point of the documentary is not about finding the result; it’s to reflect on life, chance, the sacredness of each moment and the actions one takes in life. The last interview shows Sam Fernandez, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ general counsel, whose role is relatively small in the documentary. However, his words are profound. He says that it’s dangerous to “go around viewing life from the ‘What if?’ perspective,” and that every moment could become a “What if?” moment. It’s an interesting perspective that highlights the importance of every moment as well as the danger of dwelling on hypotheticals, especially when things do work out — like they did for Juan.
My Opinion (Technical): Not much to say here — the documentary style went by the books. I will say that the reveal of proof for Juan’s alibi stood out in particular. For almost 20 minutes, the frantic search to prove his alibi leads nowhere. Then, in a desperate attempt, Juan’s attorney sees him at the game in a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” scene and just like that, Juan’s misfortunes are completely reversed. A clear shot of Juan at the end of the frantic build-up made my jaw drop.
Overall Rating: Due to its incredible story, interesting moral and great build-up and release of tension, I’d give this film a 8.5/10. I took some points off only because it played it safe with its stylistic choices.
If You Like This, You’ll Also Like: “Three Identical Strangers” (2018).