Film can shine a glaring light on the annals of justice that can be both effective and manipulative. Something inherent in movie watching pulls the audience to identify with the lead character whether or not that character deserves any empathy at all.

In the case of the anti-hero, films like Match Point pull you into rooting for the killer, even if you’ve seen the guy commit murder. The mere act of experiencing someone’s P.O.V. tends to make you ally yourself with that person.

This power that movies exert over their audience is used to heart-wrenching effect in The Trials of Darryl Hunt. Directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg over a 10-year period, the true story of an innocent man convicted of a brutal rape and murder successfully pushes you to question the entire American Justice System.

Both absorbing and upsetting, The Trials of Darryl Hunt mirrors To Kill a Mockingbird. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Darryl Hunt, an African-American, happens by just after a white woman has been brutally raped and murdered. With little evidence, Hunt gets prosecuted on faulty – and even tampered with – evidence.

The kind of film that makes you question America’s progress regarding racism, The Trials does a fantastic job of making the case both understandable and urgent; the pacing makes the film feel like a thriller. The ineptitude and/or stubbornness of the prosecution and the police involved with the case prove shocking and dismaying.

Because the film takes place in the South, one cannot help but feel that nothing seems to change. Overall, a gripping portrait of what’s wrong with an American judicial system that seems stubbornly stuck in the Jim Crow era.

Crazy Love paints a completely different picture of righteousness that is compelling and repelling at the same time. The documentary tells the true story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach – a love story so strange that it could only be real. If someone made it up, no one would believe it.

In love with the beautiful Riss, and desperately afraid of losing her, Pugach seems to get more and more crazy. When he does lose her, and Riss falls in love with someone else, Pugach hires two men to throw acid in her face, presumably so that she’s ruined for anyone else.

What’s strangest about Crazy Love is that what I’ve relayed so far is not even the strangest part of the tale. The story takes twists and turns that defy logic and reality, yet in the end, manages to forge a credible and bizarre love story. The darker and weirder the movie gets, the more it serves as a metaphor for both the power and insanity of love. Like a circus mirror full of distortion and truth, Riss and Pugach create a world built for two that suits them just fine – even if it makes you squirm a little.

Filmmakers Fisher Stevens and Dan Klores do a fantastic job of stepping back and letting the story and the characters speak for themselves. The archival footage is both moving and beautiful and the two lovers, Riss and Pugach, alternate like a see saw between seeming like the world’s biggest oddballs or sincere purveyors of true love. Maybe some people really are made for each other.

Grades: A

The Trials of Darryl Hunt and Crazy Love are both currently available.