The Crash Reel
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated:  Brief profanity
Theater: St. Anthony Main


The HBO documentary “The Crash Reel” offers a remarkably intimate and sensitive look at the life of Kevin Pearce, a professional snowboarder. In 2009, the rising star was on the heels of the sport’s superstar, Shaun White. Then, less than two months before the Winter Olympics, Pearce misjudged an aerial maneuver and sustained a traumatic brain injury. We meet Pearce’s friends; his patient, supportive, worried family, and his doctors and emotional therapists as he works to rehabilitate himself and return to the sport he loves, even though a second concussion could leave him paralyzed or dead. “I want to snowboard; I want that feeling back,” he insists. Is his urge to get back on the board a drive, as he sees it, or an addiction? Director Lucy Walker has crafted a film that is upbeat and exciting, serious and cautionary. It leads us through cranial injuries to pro sportsmen of all types and forces us to question our appetite for competitions that push athletes far beyond the limits of physical safety. “The crowds get excited when they see people go out there and crash. That’s what the crowd loves,” says former bike daredevil Stephen Murray, who is now quadriplegic. The Pearce family is inspiring as its members attempt to talk Kevin back down to earth after his injury, gently weaning him away from the high-adrenaline, high-risk sport that made him a hero, and nearly killed him. This is top-notch filmmaking in terms of its technique and its humane spirit.


Divorce Corp.
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Brief graphic nudity and profanity.
Theater: Inver Grove 16


According to the searing documentary “Divorce Corp.,” more money flows through U.S. family courts — from parents and children and into the hands of litigators, mediators and advisers — than in all the nation’s other court systems combined. The film, narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky, portrays an arrangement designed to enrich courthouse insiders at their clients’ expense, while inflaming the litigants’ antagonism. The film was directed by biotech multimillionaire Joseph Sorge after his own bruising divorce, and co-written by James Scurlock (“Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders”). It is extensively researched and persuasively argued, featuring interviews with legal experts, court officers and aggrieved spouses. It points to the Scandinavian model of uncontentious divorces as a healthier model. Sorge somewhat overplays his hand as he presents sordid examples of misconduct by judges, attorneys and custody evaluators. Shocking as those episodes are, the problem isn’t the most flagrant outliers, but the day-to-day machinations of a flawed, adversarial system. Any divorce survivor will see rueful reminders of a destructive process. Any engaged couple should see it, period.