"The Act of Killing" is one of the most acclaimed documentaries of 2013. Credit: Drafthouse Films "The Act of Killing" is one of the most acclaimed documentaries of 2013.
Credit: Drafthouse Films

For good and bad, movies rarely take up physical space these days. They live in a digital realm, shot and projected digitally. And rather than eat up real estate on shelves, the home versions are just clicks away.

Starting today, Metro is teaming with Distrify, an online film distributor, to bring you films new and old to watch online or buy through its service.For rented movies, viewers have 30 days to watch their selection up to five times. Can’t finish the movie in one sitting? The player will remember where you left off.

You can also discuss the film on our website in our comments section. Share your opinions, start debates, request more information, harangue us for our allegedly terrible taste and whatever else you’d like to say. (But keep it civil.)

 

Our first offering is “The Act of Killing,” one of the major frontrunners for this year’s Best Documentary Oscar and one of the finest non-fiction films of 2013.

Made by Texas-born, Denmark-based filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, it explores a chilling passage in Indonesian history. During a military coup in the mid-1960s, a group of low-level gangsters were recruited to form death squads. At least 500,000 people deemed Communists — or simply those unlucky enough to get in the group's way — were massacred, though some estimates put the total at more than one million.

Despite being charged with human rights violations, the murderers were never tried and in fact are celebrities, openly boasting about their crimes. Oppenheimer spent years talking to former perpetrators, none of whom expressed remorse, before settling on the group profiled in his film. That includes Anwar Congo, who became a founding father of the right-wing paramilitary group Pemuda Pancasila. Oppenheimer asked them to recreate their crimes in movie form; each person chose a genre — gangster, musical, etc. — yielding some of the craziest anthologies in recent memory.

“The Act of Killing” has proven a worldwide sensation, including at home, where it avoided being outlawed and instead has created a truant conversation about the genocide that tragically formed the basis of modern Indonesia. It’s by turns horrifying, darkly comic and deeply moving, challenging ideas of what to do with evil, particularly criminals who’ve never been forced to pay for or question their acts.

A streaming rental is $4.99.

Read our interview with "The Act of Killing" filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer here.

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