Archive for the ‘Aaron Sorkin’ Category

My Favourite Husband

Being the Ricardo’s

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J. K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Jake Lacey, Clark Gregg, Christopher Denham, Tony Hale, Alia Sawkat

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 11 minutes

This film is only available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Despite the extremely limited release of Being The Ricardo’s, the casting genius of having Oscar winners Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) play husband and wife pays off in this talkative Aaron Sorkin film pays off.

Kidman and Bardem are absolutely superb playing the film and TV star Lucille Ball and her Cuban husband Desi Arnaz and it is a real treat to watch both actors feed off each other’s immeasurable talent.

The tumultuous marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is vividly captured in Being The Ricardo’s as they work together on the hit TV show I Love Lucy, filming all the while in the late 1950’s in Los Angeles amidst the tail end of the McCarthyism Anti-Communism trials which affected the American Film and Television industry as Republican senator Joseph McCarthy targeted the entertainment industry as being a cesspool for communist sympathizers, whipping up Anti-Communist sentiment in America which was rife in the 15 years following the end of World War 2.

Audiences just need to read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible as a cultural point of reference for his allegorical play about the Salem Witch trials of 1692 in Massachusetts. Arthur Miller himself was targeted by the Committee for Un-American Activities.

Fortunately for writer and director Aaron Sorkin, Being the Ricardo’s is exceptionally well researched but what really shines through is the brilliant acting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem.

Both are experienced actors and their portrayal of Lucille Ball and the suave and charismatic Cuban entertainer Desi Arnaz is perfect. In actual fact, Javier Bardem is as good as Nicole Kidman and to add into this are the supporting cast most notably Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) playing drunken actor William Frawley.

There is a superb scene in Being the Ricardo’s when William Frawley takes Lucille Ball to a dive bar at 10am in Hollywood to escape the histrionics on the set of I love Lucy, which at that point in the late 1950’s was sponsored by the American Tobacco company Philip Morris to assuage her feelings of control and her constant suspicion of her Cuban husband Desi of committing adultery.

Like The Trial of the Chicago 7 spotlighted a particular event in American socio-political history, Being The Ricardo’s is a slice of American entertainment history superbly acted by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as all the suspicions surrounding infidelity and being a communist sympathiser are heightened on the night of the live filming of I Love Lucy. The rest is pure dress rehearsal.

If audiences can get to watch Being The Ricardo’s make sure to see it for the excellent performances by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, their combined acting talents are enthralling.

Being the Ricardo’s gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing.

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.

The Whims of Powerful Men

Molly’s Game

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Graham Greene, Chris O’Dowd, Justin Kirk, J. C. MacKenzie

The Social Network, Moneyball and Steve Jobs screenwriter Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut in Molly’s Game featuring a powerfully hard core performance by Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) who is basically in every frame of the 2 hour and 20 minute expose of the decadent world of illicit high stakes poker.

Chastain plays Molly Bloom a savvy and smart young woman who in a bid to escape the clutches of her persuasive and pushy father Larry Bloom, a stand out performance by Oscar winner Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), leaves Colorado and heads to Los Angeles where she starts working for a slimeball misogynist Dean Keith played by Jeremy Strong who asks her to set up and run a regular Tuesday night poker game with a $10 000 buy in.

Soon the shrewd and street smart Bloom takes the poker game away from Keith and sets up her own High Class games at a luxurious suite at a Beverley Hills hotel aided by the dubious Player X played by Canadian actor Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno).

Sorkin tells and retells Molly’s rise and fall from power through a series of carefully crafted narrative flashbacks in between scenes with Molly Bloom and her New York defense attorney wonderfully played by Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us, Star Trek Beyond).

With Sorkin’s trademark flair for snappy dialogue and producing a distinct visual style of his own, Molly’s Game is a fascinating portrait of a young woman who gets dangerously and illegally caught up in the world of high stakes poker where she eventually becomes subjected to the whims of vain and powerful men, most of whom are gambling addicts and would think nothing of sitting at a poker table until dawn betting their fortunes away just to prove who is a winning player.

Within this highly competitive masculine world, Molly Bloom gets indicted for organizing poker games with among others the Russian mafia in New York as well as Hollywood film stars, producers, rock stars and East Coast Trust fund babies.

Jessica Chastain is stunning in Molly’s Game and keeps the pace of this lengthy film, portraying a decadent Madame who presides over a glamorous boudoir for men to gamble, drink and flirt with gorgeous supermodels or as her book publisher says, she was the keeper of a very expensive and indulgent man cave.

At the heart of the story, which could have been edited in sections, is Molly’s complex relationship with her father who she was always goading from her rebellious teenage years to her earlier childhood attempts at becoming an Olympic ski jumper in Salt Lake City.

If audiences enjoyed The Social Network and Steve Jobs, then they will love Molly’s Game, a decadent tale of one woman who bet her good name and reputation on the house.

Molly’s Game gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is worth seeing for a remarkable performance by Jessica Chastain who really proves her talent as the heroine in this gritty, seductive tale about greed and power.

 

 

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