Connect with us

Entertainment

‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ Review: Aaron Sorkin At His Very Best

Published

on

Over the last two decades, Aaron Sorkin has quietly become the master of the courtroom drama. A Few Good Men, the famed legal drama, was his very first feature screenplay. The Oscar-winning Social Network brilliantly wove together two separate lawsuits as a narrative framework. Molly’s Game, his directorial debut, hinged its emotional climax on a judge’s sentencing. Two years ago, he adapted one of the most famous courtroom stories of all time—Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird—for Broadway. Now, with The Trial of the Chicagowhich premieres on Netflix on October 16—Sorkin has delivered a courtroom drama in its purest form. And it is an excellent one.

This time, Sorkin, who wrote and directed the film, turns his attention to the true story of the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam War protestors who were charged with conspiracy in 1969 on the basis that they had traveled across state lines with the intention of starting a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The argument was shaky at best, and illegal at worst. Several of the defendants had never even met each other before. Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale (played by the superb star of HBO’s Watchmen, and recent Emmy winner, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was barely even present at the protest, much less involved in organizing it. But a newly-elected President Nixon was waging an increasingly unpopular war, and he was determined to silence the people—and the culture—who spoke out against it.

Sorkin doesn’t waste time getting us to the courtroom, where he’s assembled a cast of all-star actors to play history-making men. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the establishment-loving prosecutor Richard Schultz, hand-selected by Nixon’s Attorney General John N. Mitchell (William Hurt), and instructed to get an indictment no matter what. Mark Rylance is acclaimed civil rights lawyer William Moses Kunstler, who argues on behalf for the defendants (save for Seale, whose lawyer is hospitalized) with increasing exasperation, earning charge after charge of contempt as it becomes clear the cantankerous judge (Frank Langella) is not on their side. Michael Keaton shows up halfway through as the former AG under Johnson, Ramsey Clark, a key witness who’s unfairly dismissed.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (L-R) YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II as BOBBY SEALE, BEN SHENKMAN as LEONARD WEINGLASS, MARK RYLANCE as WILLIAM KUNTSLER, EDDIE REDMAYNE as TOM HAYDEN, ALEX SHARP as RENNIE DAVIS
Photo: NICO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX © 2020

Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen, as Tom Hayden and Abbie Hoffman, are the de facto leaders of the defendants, and Sorkin sorts them into a long-standing trope of revolutionaries: the one who wants to change the system from the inside; and the one who wants to dismantle it from the outside. Hayden, who in real life went on to be a California State Senator, is respectful of the court. He gets a haircut and wears a tie. Hoffman, a self-described anarchist who co-founded the Youth International Party (“Yippies”), openly mocks the judge. Both men are flanked by their respective BFFs, Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong, gone full flower-power). David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), is a pacifist who is eventually goaded into violence, while Seale (Abdul-Mateen) is dealing with a level of injustice his white colleagues can’t hope to understand. Then there’s Noah Robbins and Daniel Flaherty, who are more or less “the extra ones,” but still get in some funny lines regardless.

Needless to say, it’s a complicated story. You may find yourself grateful for the ability to pause and rewind for the first 20 minutes. But Sorkin has always excelled at mining a great story from dense material, and The Trial of Chicago 7 is Sorkin leaning into all of his strengths. There are more than a few self-righteous speeches from men, but in the context of a room full of civil rights leaders, they are much more palatable than they ever were on The Newsroom. With flashbacks and legal testimonies, he masterfully builds suspense; revealing how the protests, intended as peaceful, turned violent at the drop of a hat. Editor Alan Baumgarten, who also worked on Molly’s Game, plays a crucial role with the impeccably timed, split-second flashbacks to police brutality. In one stand-out scene, the quiet sounds of the court are juxtaposed with the harsh jangle of handcuffs, as Seale is bound and gagged for speaking out.

The stellar cast helps. Redmayne pulls off the American voice so well, I very nearly didn’t recognize him. Cohen’s exaggerated Boston accent takes a little longer to get used to, but his comedic timing makes up for it. Jeremy Strong, meanwhile, slips into “dorky hippie” like he was born there, a role that couldn’t be more opposite from his character on HBO’s Succession. Abdul-Mateen, though he could have used a bigger role, quietly simmers with anger as Seale until he’s pushed to the breaking point. And the award for the biggest laughs goes to Langella, who is absurdly hilarious as the grossly incompetent Judge Julius Hoffman.

By the end of two hours and nine minutes, Sorkin has ensured that you not only understand the case of the Chicago 7 (also called the Chicago 8, until Seale was eventually dismissed), but that you feel a deep connection with, if not all, at least most of them. It almost goes without saying that, as protestors across the nation are being arrested under President Trump, this story is a particularly relevant one.

But to me, the scariest character wasn’t the corrupt AG or the hostile judge, it was Gordon-Levitt’s fictionalized character, Schultz. Is he a good guy “just doing his job,” invented to make the bad guys more sympathetic? Or is he the man who smiles and shakes your hand as he sends you off to die? Sorkin wisely leaves that question unanswered—a take-home philosophy question for the audience to chew on, long after the movie ends.

Watch The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix

Entertainment

Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact

Published

on

By

Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie. 

Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo. 

But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way. 

The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake. 

The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.

Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either. 

Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price. 

Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity. 

Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well. 

Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Liu Yifei made no outright apology. 

Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas. 

Continue Reading

Entertainment

5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!

Published

on

By

American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations. 

Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.

Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes

Year of release: 2019

1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre. 

Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2020

Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.

This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2018

The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes

Year of release: 2020

For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.

Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.

This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes

Year of release: 2016

The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.

The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!

Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!

Continue Reading

Entertainment

The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

Published

on

By

When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 NewsLagoon | All Content Rights Reserved.