'My Kid Could Paint That' asks some halfway-hard questions about a 4-year-old artist named Marla Olmstead, 'The Power of Forgiveness' examines the recuperative effects of forgiveness.
My Kid Could Paint That (PG-13)
Almost overnight, Marla Olmstead's oil paintings begin selling for tens of thousands of dollars. She is 4. Then, just as suddenly, a "60 Minutes" segment casts doubt on whether the work is her own. Director Amir Bar-Lev, who began filming before the news show and seems as stunned by it as the Olmsteads, is thrust into his own documentary as he tries to understand if Marla has been coached. What unfolds is less the story of Marla's talent and more about the adults who inhabit her life: her concerned mother, and a father and local gallery owner as eager for fame as her mother is wary. In some ways, it feels as if Mr. Bar-Lev lets "60 Minutes" do the dirty work, shying away from the tough questions. But in the excellent special feature "Back to Binghamton," he returns to Marla's New York hometown after the film's release to ask and answer some of those very questions.
The Power of Forgiveness (Unrated)
Dr. Everett Worthington, a psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, spent years researching forgiveness and its recuperative effects. In 1995, Dr. Worthington's findings were put to the ultimate test: His mother was brutally murdered. Worthington is one of several fascinating interviewees in this documentary by Martin Doblmeier ("Bonhoeffer") about people who have tilted against prevailing societal attitudes toward responses to wrongdoing. The film, available on DVD from www.firstrunfeatures.com and due to screen on PBS this month, looks at forgiveness in Northern Ireland as well as efforts by 9/11 widows. Powerful, indeed.