Reviewed at Boston Film Festival, Sept. 13, 1999. Running time: 78 MIN.
The Poet and the Con” is documentary as personal statement: Poet and filmmaker Eric Trules tells of his relationship with his uncle, a career criminal. Filmed between 1991 and 1998, pic is a compelling document about the blessing and curse of facing one’s heritage. While it should be a must at select festivals and specialized venues, its commercial life will largely be post-theatrical.
Trules was close to his uncle, Harvey Rosenberg, who appears onscreen as a dynamic and friendly figure with an undercurrent of danger. They romanticized each other’s success and when Trules, as an adult, learned the truth — Rosenberg and three others were prime suspects for the 1982 murder of actor Frank Christi — he was more hurt than shocked. He began to wonder how this family secret applied to his own fate when he was arrested on a petty charge of unauthorized use of a photocopying machine. Tech credits are low-budget, mixing original film with home movies, video transfers and clips from “America’s Most Wanted.” Sound is adequate, though one interview with Trules’ mother seems to have been recorded with amateur equipment.