AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER directed by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, produced by Jo Human, with Broomfield, Aileen Wuornos. 89 minutes. Rating: NNNN . 7 pm.
AILEEN WUORNOS: THE SELLING OF A SERIAL KILLER directed by Nick Broomfield, with Broomfield, Arlene Pralle, Wuornos, Steve Glazer. 89 minutes. Rating: NNN . 9:15 pm. Presented by Doc Soup at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles West), Wednesday (February 11). $10 each. Rating: NNNNN
For some reason, doc soup's presenting Nick Broomfield's pair of Aileen Wuornos documentaries in the wrong order. This wouldn't mean much except that Aileen: Life And Death Of A Serial Killer, made in 2003, wouldn't exist if it weren't for Aileen Wuornos: The Selling Of A Serial Killer, which Broomfield made in 1992. Almost a decade after the first film, Broomfield was called to Florida as a witness in Wuornos's last appeal against her execution. Her lawyer was using Broomfield's film as an indication that Wuornos had been inadequately represented by her lawyer, Steve Glazer.
Broomfield and Joan Churchill, his cinematographer and occasional co-director, have built an odd career out of his hapless persona. He wanders the American scene asking disarmingly innocent questions in his posh accent, and Americans tell him things.
He has a taste for the sensational, from Chicken Ranch, his film about the legendary Nevada brothel, to high-profile murders in Kurt & Courtney and Biggie & Tupac. It was almost inevitable that he'd be drawn to Wuornos, a highway prostitute who confessed to killing seven of her tricks.
Scrambled chronology aside, these two films can be watched in conjunction with Monster, starring Oscar nominee Charlize Theron, for the full narrative arc of Wuornos's life as serial killer, controversial murder suspect and death row inmate at the end of her rope.
Aileen: Life And Death deals largely with what's going on around Wuornos, notably with her lawyer and Arlene Pralle, the odd woman who adopted Wuornos. The second film contains Wuornos's last interview, given right before her execution.
If you want to know what crazy looks like, here it is. Plainly paranoid - yes, even if they are trying to kill you you can still be paranoid - and delusional, her eyes popping out of her head, Wuornos admits to the murders but blames the Florida police, who she claims were following her and letting her kill people so she'd be a high-profile case that would generate book deals and movies.
As Broomfield notes, you have to wonder what the standards are in Florida if the state-appointed psychiatrists who examined Wuornos to determine her fitness to be executed decided she was sane.