6 posts categorized "Courtroom Drama"

March 22, 2024

ANATOMY OF A FALL — CANNES 2023

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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ColeSmithey.com"Pueblo chico, infierno grande" translates to small town, big hell.

Such is the remote French community of Grenoble that German outsider Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) finds herself when her troubled husband Samuel Maleski seemingly commits suicide.

The townspeople refuse to accept that their hometown boy could have offed himself. The interloper wife must have murdered Samuel (played by Samuel Theis).

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This is one brilliantly written and directed courtroom drama.

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Sandra is a successful author, Samuel is a university lecturer; jealousy rattles the relationship.

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Sharp dialogue and tricky plot twists keep you on the hook.

"Anatomy of a Fall" won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2023, so you know you're in for a treat.

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Sandra Hüller gives a riveting performance in this slow-burn drama.

Ice is the only thing in the world that is what it's cracked up to be, until blood melts it, that is.

Rated R. 151 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

January 22, 2021

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

ColeSmithey.comGroupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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Trial_of_the_chicago_sevenGlib. Forgettable. Writer/director Aaron Sorkin gets out his arsenal of narrative formula templates to simplify an otherwise complex story of ‘60s era political theater. The effect is entertaining up to a point before it hits you that Robert Altman would have been much better at telling the story at hand if he were still alive. Hell, Oliver Stone would have done a better job.

The trial in question arose from the actions of a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The film’s ensemble of actors (Yaha Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Flaherty, Joseph Gordon, Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Jeremy Strong, and John Carroll Lynch) give credible performances that come across as an afterthought in the context of Sorkin’s heavy hand.

ColeSmithey.com

Courtroom dramas are a notoriously prickly genre to begin with. This one finds Aaron Sorkin falling on his own sword. The movie plays more as a showpiece of Hollywood machinery than as a filmic document of a crisis of ideologies at a time when it seemed that the People might get a leg up on the corruption at the heart of the American war machine. As if such a thing could be possible.

Chicago 7

From a technical standpoint, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is serviceable but Sorkin’s knee-jerk quick-cutting crutch wears out its welcome. Aaron Sorkin’s motivations for making the movie in our current political climate seems like a foregone conclusion. Nothing has the emotional weight it purports to possess even if the actors are compelling in their roles as voices of dissent. The problem is that Sorkin wants so badly to deliver a feel-good movie that he misses all of the heartbreak inflicted on the accused activists who never agreed on anything. This is a Cheese Whiz movie for 12-year-olds, not for adults.  

Chicago 7

Rated R. 129 mins.

Two Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

January 13, 2018

MOLLY'S GAME

ColeSmithey.comGroupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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Mollys_gameScreenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is a polished medium-budget adaptation of Olympic-skier-turned-poker-queen Molly Bloom’s book of the same title. Jessica Chastain is well cast as the title character, a business-minded entrepreneur who became the target of a legal attack from the F.B.I. after running a high-stakes poker in Southern California and midtown Manhattan. 

Molly lucks out when she secures Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) as her legal counsel. Sorkin's creative narrative structure plays as a courtroom drama in reverse. The fun lies with watching an intelligent, independent-minded woman launch a highly profitable business while learning on the fly in the company of big male egos trying to outdo one another. 

MollysGame

Sorkin uses tightly composed scenes, packed with lean dialogue, to form volatile sequences that unite exposition with motivation and visual panache. On-screen graphics embellish poker sequences to telegraph inside information about the hands being played with a voice-over bump. The film isn't want for aside-slipping sense of humor either. This is quality cinematic storytelling. If only Hollywood made more films in the vein of “Molly’s Game.”  

Molly's Game

Rated R. 140 mins. 

3 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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