THE BLOG

Crashing In Two Documentaries: The Crash Reel on HBO and EPIX's TWA Flight 800

07/15/2013 01:51 pm ET | Updated Sep 14, 2013

Kevin Pearce is lucky to be alive. When you see this expert snowboarder taking the near fatal plunge in Lucy Walker's riveting documentary, The Crash Reel, to air on July 15 on HBO, you know the outcome won't be good. His rival for competitions and the Olympics, Shaun White, was the subject of a 2008 documentary, Don't Look Down, about this sport, which many think is not Olympic-worthy. White too has had his share of spills and, in this movie's most painful moments, some athletes have died. But the movie is more than a cautionary tale about an increasingly more dangerous sport as athletes become more challenged. Detailing Kevin's long period of recovery, the film is about the strong family that supported him along the way. You see Kevin blowing glass with his dad Simon, whose Park Avenue shop displays his state-of-the-art glassware. The film pays special attention to his brother David, who has Down Syndrome. When David pleads with his brother not to return to the sport Kevin loves, saying "I don't want to see you die," you see the tear-filled eyes of mom Pia, and the film's tension is to see how Kevin will resolve his longing to compete in this sport, and his new reality.

To mark the anniversary on July 17 of the famous 1996 tragic crash of a passenger airplane over Long Island, EPIX will present Kristina Borjesson's documentary, TWA Flight 800, detailing the inconclusive investigation. An impassioned if frustrating work of film journalism, the program might go under the heading of "unsolved mysteries." An obsession of co-producer Dr. Tom Stalcup, the original inquiry into the tragedy was less to find out how the jet heading for Paris broke apart and crashed into the waters, than, in the view of this film, the FBI's efforts to cover it up. Eyewitnesses who saw three missiles attack the plane from the ground were asked to change their stories, and were not heard at all in the investigation. Why? While this film goes far to recount a botched investigation, it does not provide a motive for sabotaging a jet, killing all 230 onboard. The film ends with the families still looking for answers. Not to make light of an appalling piece of American history, someone has some explaining to do.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.