Posts Tagged ‘John Carroll Lynch’

The Radical Left

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Michael Keaton, Ben Shenkman, Alex Sharp, John Carroll Lynch

Pacifists, Hippies and Black Panthers converge on Chicago in the summer of 1968 during the Democratic National Convention and are confronted by the police and naturally riots break out. Are the police to blame? Are the protesters to blame? It is the summer of love, anti-Vietnam protests and significant social upheaval worldwide.

This is the premise of West Wing and The Social Network Oscar winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s new film in which he directed and wrote. The Trail of the Chicago 7 was originally set for a theatrical release in October 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paramount sold the rights to the streaming giant Netflix for a cool $56 million dollars. Which explains the reason why this great film can only be found on Netflix when in fact it was best suited to a proper cinematic release.

Especially with Sorkin’s witty dialogue and his fantastic cast that he managed to assemble for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

The cast includes Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as liberal pacifist and anti-war activist Tom Hayden, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as defence attorney William Kunstler, Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as the non-nonsense but bigoted judge Julius Hoffman, Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (Succession) as hippie Jerry Rubin and a stand out performance by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as the fast talking defiant hippie leader Abbie Hoffman.

Also in the cast are John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Panther leader Bobby Seale who also got charged along with the original seven for incitement to start a riot and public disturbance.

While the first half of Aaron Sorkin’s film is confusing and needs to be anchored, the second half is brilliant as he clearly shows you what actually happens even if as a screenwriter he does get historically creative with the real facts.

Speaking of the real facts, as a viewer it is best to look up the actual story of the Trial of the Chicago 7 and the context in which the riot occurred. As Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Abbie Hofmann so eloquently says, “Everyone was in the Haymarket Tavern at the Chicago Hilton like the Sixties never happened until it came crashing through the window.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a great film, very dialogue heavy but it stands together through some superb ensemble acting especially from Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the prosecuting attorney Richard Schultz and a fine performance by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale who actually lands up getting bound and gagged in an American courtroom.

Nominated for 5 Golden Globes in 2021 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Song, Best Supporting Actor for Sacha Baron Cohen and Best Screenplay, Catch The Trial of the Chicago 7 now on Netflix. This courtroom drama gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

History, Identity, Beauty

Jackie

Director: Pablo Larrain

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Richard E. Grant, John Hurt, John Carroll Lynch, Caspar Phillipson, Beth Grant, Max Casella

Producer Darren Aronofsky and Chilean director Pablo Larrain bring an exquisite and heart wrenching portrait of Jackie Kennedy just moments after her husband President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas on the 22nd November 1963 in Jackie.

Oscar winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan) is sublime as Jackie and considering that she is in virtually every frame of the film, shot in mostly extreme close up, Portman delivers a poignant portrait of Jackie as she is suddenly stripped of her position as first lady while also dealing with suddenly becoming a young widow to two small children, John and Caroline Kennedy.

Simultaneously, Larrain explores the mythical concepts of History, Identity and Beauty as Jackie has to boldly deal with the aftermath of an assassination and the claustrophobia of grief intertwined with state politics and diplomacy.

Jackie has to decide what type of funeral she would like for John F. Kennedy and amidst the security concerns following her husband’s dramatic assassination, she opts for a full length funeral parade, which symbolically become the most watched event on American Television in the early 1960’s.

Screenwriter Noah Oppenheimer’s seductive script pulls viewers into the traumatic world of Jackie Kennedy, deconstructing the myth of a debutante stripped of her power, yet ironically her glamour and poise managed to embed itself in the American psyche for decades after her role as the First Lady of the United States.

Jackie is a stunning, visually dazzling historical portrait of a very specific moment in American history, the aftermath of one of the most pivotal assassinations, which irreparably changed the course of American politics and society redefining the 1960’s as a tumultuous decade. Cleverly what the film does not do is delve into any conspiracy theories surrounding the infamous assassination, but exclusively focuses on how Jackie deals with the funeral and subsequent interviews afterwards.

Audiences should look out for strong supporting roles by Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine) as Bobbie Kennedy, Greta Gerwig as loyal assistant Nancy Tuckerman and John Hurt as unnamed priest who Jackie confides in. Incidentally Jackie was one of Hurt’s last films before he died in 2017.

The costumes by Madeline Fontaine, which she won a 2017 BAFTA Award for, are gorgeous clearly recreating the iconic style of Jackie Kennedy and the production design by Jean Rabasse (The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen) is equally fitting.

What makes Jackie so inspiring is the unconventional approach of Larrain’s direction as he inter cuts scenes of the massive funeral march in Washington DC with the graphic violence of the actual assassination in the backseat of a convertible sedan speeding along a Dallas highway, blood stains on Jackie’s pink Chanel suit.

Like director Barry Jenkins’s Oscar winning film Moonlight, Jackie intensely captures the audience’s attention and never let’s go, anchored by a brilliant performance by Natalie Portman who in my opinion should have won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 2017 Oscars, although perhaps the odds were stacked in favour of Emma Stone winning for La La Land.

Gorgeous, riveting and emotionally draining, Jackie is a vivid and intricate tour de force of an iconic figure who used her widowhood to become more famous, made all the more touching by the scenes with her two very young children.

My film rating for Jackie is 9.5 out of 10. Having directed an exceptionally vivid film, director Pablo Larrain is a talent to watch out for.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_John_F._Kennedy

 

 

A Familial Take on Loves Labours Lost

Crazy Stupid Love

Reclaiming his Manhood

The lack of a single director for this convoluted and at times funny romantic comedy owes very much to the obvious plot contrivances of Steve Carell’s latest film Crazy Stupid Love. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa who excelled in the more flamboyant film I Love You Philip Morris, and written by Dan Fogelman Crazy Stupid Love is a familial take on Loves Labours Lost but does not match up to the brilliant script of Friends with Benefit, despite having an enormously talented all star cast including Ryan Gosling as the playboy Jacob Palmer, the new hip girl Emma Stone as the quirky law graduate Hannah and Julianne Moore as Carell’s weak and superficial wife Emily Palmer.

Where this oddly titled romantic comedy does excel is in showing that love across the generational divide is unpredictable, quirky and sometimes comical. The best scenes in the film are when Cal Weaver, a frumpy mid-forties office worker played with the usual lack of appeal by Steve Carell is challenged by Gosling’s character, the smooth talking womanizer Palmer to rediscover Cal’s manhood and assert his sexual dominance in the dating arena. It is Gosling who shines in this role, along with Emma Stone as the cautious Hannah who eventually couple up much to the horror of Hannah’s parents. The ensemble cast of Crazy Stupid Love resemble a more cinematic version of a Shakespearian comedy and while like any ensemble cast, supporting characters often outshine the leading players.

Watch out for Josh Groban as Hannah’s boring lawyer boyfriend, Marisa Tomei as a depraved school teacher and Kevin Bacon as a thoroughly unattractive accountant. While the talents of Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei not to mention Julianne Moore are largely wasted on a script with shallow character development, Crazy Stupid Love is another version of Steve Carroll’s breakthrough comedy The 40 year Old Version. Steve Carell should perhaps play a villain in his next film role, while Ryan Gosling should really stick to more profound cinematic roles as in Half Nelson and Blue Valentine, although his brilliant role in Crazy Stupid Love is one of the films’ redeeming features.

Vehicle for a Fascinatingly Taut Film

Gran Torino

Don't mess with my Torino!

Don’t mess with my Torino!

Gran Torino Clint Eastwood’s 2008 film was suitably impressive with a solid and mean performance by Clint Eastwood in a story which has a lot more depth than it first appears with references to inter-cultural and generational differences in suburban America. What a cinematic feast  about the differences that divide and the similarities that bound us all…

A circular narrative whilst maintaining its thematic strength. One of Eastwood’s best films since Unforgiven and as a starring role since The Bridges of Madison County. Clint Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski a Korean war veteran who has to deal with the onset of having new immigrant neighbours in Detroit and the attempted theft of his 1972 Gran Torino. Bee Vang stars as Thao and Christopher Carley stars as Father Janovich. Recommended viewing!

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