DOC NYC: Our Review of ‘Playing God’

DOC NYC: Our Review of ‘Playing God’

The documentary Playing God inadvertently added one more interest into my pile – law cases before the modern times. Especially, cases with complex factors.

It seems like I don’t want to directly ask about that outside this review, lest we go off topic. So since we have no data let’s assume that these are complex times. These times require complex job titles in the legal world.

Back then there were just workers, kings, and judges, but today there’s a “Special Master” for the American Treasury Department. For a few occasions that person was Ken Feinberg, an attorney who specializes in legal disputes.

One of Feinberg’s biggest moments in the job is when the department created that job. They put him in charge of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

That fund totaled $7B that the department doled out to 5,000 eligible victims. Feinberg could have given the money to these claimants equally.

Feinberg instead gave more money to dependents of stockbrokers than to those of firemen. He justifies the parity between who gets what in the film.

And Feinberg remembers many of the personal details of these cases. That’s one of his job’s difficulties. But there’s still something unsatisfactory about his valid reasons.

Playing God follows Feinberg – there’s a lot of archive footage of town meetings where he has to listen to people. His positive and negative aspects are on screen, although the positive wins out for the most part. The documentary tries to pass this off as nuance but it comes off as indecisiveness.

There’s also some moments where director Karin Jurschick interviews the relatives of the firefighters. And somehow the film makes these subjects’ valid complaints as too emotional and repetitive.

There are a lot of things here that come off wrong tonally that unfortunately muddles the informative aspects in it.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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