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kottke.org posts about Lance Oppenheim

No Jail Time: The Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2018

This short film by Lance Oppenheim is uncomfortably fascinating. It’s about sentencing mitigation videos, short films produced by defense attorneys to help sway judges into giving their clients lighter sentences than the guidelines suggest. Oppenheim’s subject is Doug Passon, an attorney who helps “lawyers incorporate powerful and persuasive moving pictures into the litigation process”.

Lance Oppenheim’s short documentary, No Jail Time: The Movie, profiles Passon and his controversial practice in all its variegated shades of gray. In the process, the film offers a meta-analysis of objectivity in the realm of narrative nonfiction. “Passon treats sentencing videos in an artful manner nearly indistinguishable from narrative-driven, fictional films,” Oppenheim recently told The Atlantic. According to Oppenheim, defense attorneys and sentencing video makers are increasingly drawing inspiration from true-crime entertainment, such as The Jinx and The Thin Blue Line, “to bend the rules of reality in the courtroom with visual storytelling.”

There’s even a film festival for sentencing mitigation videos. (!!!) You can view a few examples of Passon’s videos on his site.

P.S. You may remember Oppenheim as the director of this short film, Meet the Happiest Guy in the World, which is about a man who has lived on a cruise ship for the past 20 years.

The Happiest Guy in the World?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2018

Meet Mario Salcedo, who has spent the last 20 years as a full-time resident of Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

For nearly two decades, Mario had been living out of his suitcase, traveling extensively for his corporate job as the director of international finance at a multinational corporation. He spent more time in and out of hotel rooms scattered across Latin America than he did at his home in Miami. After working nonstop for nearly 21 years, Mario — burned out — decided it was time to pursue a lifelong goal: to travel around the world, without leaving home. In 1997, he quit his job, packed an even bigger suitcase and quietly disappeared from the lives of his friends and family to pursue a new life on the open water.

You wouldn’t think that watching a video about “The Happiest Guy in the World” would be so depressing. Maybe he’s happy but observing him through filmmaker Lance Oppenheim’s lens sure didn’t make me happy. I don’t know quite why, but this reminded me of the writing room for The Onion, where none of the writers laugh at any of the jokes that make it into the paper or onto the website.

Update: 94-year-old Morton Jablin has been living on the same cruise ship for the past 13 years since his wife died. It’s basically a floating assisted living facility for him.

Seven Seas Navigator is an all-suite luxury ship. The cruise line has made minor stateroom accommodations to make things easier for the Captain, one of their most loyal passengers. “They’ve installed brighter lights in my cabin, handrails in the bathroom and a special shaving mirror,” he says.

To stay fit, he exercises regularly. He knows his way around the ship and walks about two hours daily, usually on Deck 7 where the shops are located. “I’m intelligent enough not to walk where I’d have a problem. Nobody is on that deck during the day and as an ex-Navy man, I have my sea legs,” he says.