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Hot Takes: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin had me on his side right up until the end…and then spit in my face.

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1. Is Sacha Baron Cohen quietly one of the most underrated actors of our generation? He’s going into awards season playing an intellectual Vietnam protestor….and Borat. And he should absolutely be recognized for both.

2. Also, I understand Jeremy Strong as an actor a bit more I think. I love Succession (Team Shiv!) and I do think Kendall Roy is an interesting one to watch, but never having seen him in anything else, I’ve never been totally sure about his performance. I’m sure now. He’s playing that character exactly right, and he played the counterpart to Cohen’s character in Chicago 7 exactly right as well. Good job, sir.

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale is the real force though. He is so committed and I fully believe him as a Black Panther in the 60s. I’ve seen Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a few things (Luce is exceptional) and I have no qualms toward him, but his portrayal of Fred Hampton didn’t really pop to me the way I would’ve expected it to, but maybe that was a deliberate choice by Aaron Sorkin so as not to compete with Bobby Seale.

4. There really is so much good acting. I’ve never hated a judge more than I hated Frank Langella. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is completely believable as a twerpy little agent of the government. Michael Keaton makes the most of this limited time. Eddie Redmayne is very good at playing characters I have to root for, because of the story, but don’t really like. Great casting all around.

5. This is an Aaron Sorkin production. You either like Aaron Sorkin or you don’t. If you hate Aaron Sorkin, then you probably won’t love this movie, but I usually enjoy the way he puts dialogue together and I like the pace of his stuff, so it all worked for me.

6. I watched this movie with someone else and I got the sense that if you don’t know anything about the Vietnam protests or the 1968 election cycle or you’ve never heard about the riots in Chicago (or across the country really), you might be a little bit lost in the beginning when the players are being introduced. Sorkin does a good job of identifying everyone with title cards, but it’s a lot of names a lot of information if you’re completely unfamiliar with the political climate at that time. You can go into it blind (he knew what was going on by the end) but if you’re annoyed by being in a fog during a movie, brush up a little first.

7. I’ve only said good things! Which is rare! And that’s about to end now. If I stopped this review right here it’d get a solid 8 from me but I’m about to bust this foolishness all the way down to a 4 because the ending pissed me off to no end.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

 

At the end of the movie, Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) is being addressed by the judge because Hayden is the least offensive of the defendants. He’s a clean-cut, stand-up kid who seems to respect the court, so the judge tells him to keep his remarks brief, respectful, and remorseful, and he’ll keep that in mind for sentencing. Hayden decides to read the list of Americans who have died in Vietnam since their trial began — almost 5,000 names. The music swells, the courtroom stands, and the movie ends.

THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN!

“Why are you so mad? Directors change bits of the story all the time!”

I’m mad because this particular bit of the story is the most obnoxious change I’ve seen to a true story in some time. First of all, David Dellinger (not Tom Hayden) attempted to read the names earlier in the trial and was quickly silenced by the court. What actually happened during sentencing is, the defendants (not just Hayden, but others as well) addressed racism in the criminal justice system. When I watched the movie I was like “wait…that doesn’t feel right to me” because I had briefly studied the Chicago 7 in high school and I thought I remembered some very pro-Black statements. I did. I just looked them up.

This is what Jerry Rubin said: What you are doing out there is creating millions of revolutionaries. Julius Hoffman, you have done more to destroy the court system in this country than any of us could have done. All we did was go to Chicago and the police system exposed itself as totalitarian. And I am glad we exposed the court system because in millions of courthouses across this country blacks are being shuttled from the streets to the jails and nobody knows about it. They are forgotten men. There ain’t a whole corps of press people sitting and watching. They don’t care. You see what we have done is, we have exposed that. Maybe now people will be interested in what happens in the courthouse down the street because of what happened here. Maybe now people will be interested.

David Dellinger said: Whatever happens to us, however unjustified, will be slight compared to what has happened already to the Vietnamese people, to the black people in this country, to the criminals with whom we are now spending our days in the Cook County jail.

Tom Hayden (who Sorkin has reading off Vietnam casualties): I have sat there in the Cook County Jail with people who can’t make bond, with people who have bum raps, with people who are nowhere, people who are the nothings of society, people who say to me, “You guys burned your draft cards. I would like to burn my birth certificate so they can never find me again.”

Why did Aaron Sorkin decide to scrap this?

Last year, the US saw protests against the establishment on a scale we had not seen since the 1960s when this movie took place. The conversation about Black people and the criminal justice system is at the front of everyone’s minds. Sorkin just made a movie set during the Civil Rights movement. He shows a Black Panther being beaten by law enforcement in the film. Fred Hampton is assassinated during the film and Sorkin shows its effect on Bobby Seale. But the end of the movie, when the white protagonists show solidarity with Black people, Sorkin decides to take that out??? 

I don’t get it and it pisses me off that it’s not in the movie. It’s a baffling decision that I don’t understand, so if anybody who has seen the movie has any insight into what happened, feel free to let me know and I can come back an add some additional information.

 

 

Score: 4/10

 

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Movies

Hot Takes: Black Widow

This isn’t Natasha’s story the way most origin stories would be.

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I don’t want to give spoilers in case you don’t want them, so we got three parts here.

The Good / Random (No Spoilers)

1. This is a good ass origin story! They’re so formulaic in superhero movies, but this isn’t that.
Captain Marvel  – accidentally gets superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Spiderman  – accidentally gets superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Captain America – intentionally gets superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Iron Man – spends a bunch of money making superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Black Widow – a child trafficker gets tracked down by two of his former slaves/spies/assassins.

2. Where do spies be getting all this money? Natasha is an orphan. Did she just steal a few billion dollars and stash it somewhere to be spending on identities and jets and whatnot? It’s not like the Avengers draw a paycheck. Falcon could barely keep his little fishing boat in business.

3. Florence Pugh is hilarious and, no shade but shade, a better Black Widow than Scarlett. I’m so excited for her.

4. I want smaller Marvel movies. We have consistently leveled up the danger from saving a city to saving a country to saving a planet to saving the universe to now probably saving all of the dimensions of the universe. Where do you go after that? Let’s make it small. Black Widow is an exercise in taking the stakes down and I hope they keep moving in that direction. Every Marvel movie doesn’t need a huge scene culminating in hundreds of explosions where the universe is saved for another day. Let’s get the Marvel road trip buddy comedy, the Marvel bank heist, the Marvel family drama. Black Widow is a mashup of all three, and it’s done really well.

5. There are only like three men in the whole movie who have more than a minute of screentime and you love to see it.

6. For me, action scenes have a heightened sense of danger when it’s a bunch of regular people chasing each other in cars and kicking ass without flying through the sky or blasting out neon projectiles. In that way, Black Widow feels more like a Bond movie or a Bourne movie than a Marvel movie and I’m very much here for all of that.

The Annoying (Mild Spoilers)

7. Because these are real people who can DIE and those are my favorite kinds of action movies, it really takes me out of the film when these real, non-enhanced humans survive ridiculous things or put themselves in absolutely fatal situations with no regard to their own safety. If you can’t survive a gunshot, you’re not going to squat in the open door of a helicopter while it’s being sprayed with bullets — two bullet holes appeared on Yelena’s left and then three appeared on her right, but she’s right in the doorway getting hit by nothing? How many car crashes can Natasha not only walk away from but also fight an adversary immediately after? My dad has ten broken bones from a car crash he was in a couple of weeks ago, but she walking away from cars that rolled over? I don’t like that.

8. Atomic Blonde has some of the most realistic fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a female action movie and the fight choreographer talked about how they designed those scenes to accurately portray how a woman (or anyone with less muscle mass) would take advantage of their surroundings. Black Widow cannot pummel someone the way Captain America can because she’s not as strong. It doesn’t really matter though. It’s Marvel. We didn’t watch it for accuracy, and the fight scenes are all the same. However, when Natasha fights Yelena, they both utilize everything around them from dishes to curtains and it just made me wonder why they don’t always have Natasha fight that way.

9. Neither of these things would matter as much if the writers hadn’t made Yelena (hilariously) point out that Black Widow is a regular person compared to the other Avengers. If you’re going to highlight the fact that your cast is just humans who get shot, get broken bones, and then get ibuprofen, then you shouldn’t write action scenes for invincible heroes.

The Response to “It’s Too Late” Criticism (Mild Spoilers)

10. We watch movies about actual dead people all the time, so I don’t get what the big deal is. Tammy Faye Baker is so ridiculous she might as well have been written by Marvel and I’m gonna see that movie on opening night.

11. It’s right on time, but the marketing sucks, because it’s too focused on Natasha. Marvel has incorrectly assumed the public cares enough about Natasha to want this movie even though she’s dead, or that we like Scarlett enough to see this movie even though we know the resolution of the character. But Natasha and Yelena have the same origin story — it’s just as much Florence Pugh’s movie as it is Scarlett Johansson’s. This is the new Black Widow’s origin story, not the dead one’s.

Score: 7/10 

 

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Hot Takes: Zola

Taylour Paige is a star.

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1. TS Madison needs more film roles, stat. I didn’t even know she could act (yes, she was basically just being TS Madison, but Julia Roberts built a whole career of just being Julia on screen).

2. Personal preference, but I don’t love indie movies where you feel like the director needs to constantly remind you that they’re in control of the vision and that you’re watching an indie movie. Zola is a good story on its own — that’s why the Twitter thread went viral in the first place. It doesn’t need a lot of “filmmaking” to make a watchable film, and yet Janicza Bravo made sure to remind us through long, broody driving shots and visual interjections of meaningless filler in no way integral to the plot, that she’s the boss and she’s making an indie movie. I don’t like that.

3. Taylour Paige is a star. Taylour Paige’s body is also a star. Additionally, Taylour Paige’s face is a star. That ballet training and that Debbie Allen instruction really came in handy because the way she moves is magnetic. She can just walk through the scene and command attention. Also, the way she can tell microstories with her face! The entire film is one big showcase for Taylour’s tiny facial expressions.

4. Riley Keough (Elvis Pressley’s granddaughter, for those who don’t know) successfully walks that tricky line between doing a Blaccent and doing “white girl who knows Black people” and I feel like she must have actually put in work and research to pull that off successfully where so many others fail miserably.

5. Colman Domingo’s vague African accent maybe not as successful? Also, I just looked him up to see where he was from (Philadelphia, dad is from Belize) and he’s gay. He has a whole husband and everything, so what a nice Pride Month bonus on the very last day.

6. Wow, what a surprising collection of ugly penises.

7. Greg from Succession is hilarious. I love that he’s basically playing Greg from Succession again, but the trailer park version. I wouldn’t mind if his whole career was various incarnations of Greg from Succession.

8. If I had never read the Twitter thread, I probably would have enjoyed the movie just a *smidge* more, because I was waiting for the next tweet/plotpoint to come in whenever the director was seemingly trying to fill time. I felt like she was writing an essay with a word requirement and she was trying to hit the threshold with empty space. If Zola needed to be an hour and ten minutes, then that’s what it needed to be.

9. Sex trafficking is scary. The biggest difference between the Twitter thread and this movie is the way Bravo more accurately depicts how terrifying it is to be pimped and to be under the control of a man who is using you for money. I don’t remember being afraid for any of the characters on Twitter. I was afraid for everyone involved while watching the movie.

10. If your pee looks like Sunny Delight, bitch drink some WATER.

Score: 7/10 

 

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Hot Takes: Luca

Vespas aren’t that great. And it do be a lot of assholes riding them.

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1. Disney said, “Let’s make the gayest movie we can make that won’t be boycotted by Pat Robertson and One Million Moms.”

2. Disney also said, “Let’s make Call Me By Your Name but fishy, and let’s make The Shape of Water but the cartoon version.”

3. Disney also also said, “Let’s make a really good score!!!”

4. The big takeaway here is, if you’re different and everybody hates you, all you have to do is be good at some type of sporting event and you’ll have instant acceptance. I don’t know how you go from wanting to murder people to inviting them over for dinner, but whatever the trick is, somebody should’ve taught it to me in 7th grade as well.

5. Grandma is a boss. I bet she got some landmonster knocking the scales off that ol fishpussy every weekend.

6. If you win a triathlon as a relay with two other people against a little girl who is doing all three legs herself, should you really be bragging all the time about how great you are??? Somebody should’ve punched The Villain a long time ago.

7. One Arm Daddy kinda hot. I love when the gays are in charge of creative direction. If I was still writing Nifty Fanfic, I would definitely put Smart Hulk and One Arm Daddy in some smut together.

8. Vespas aren’t that great. And it do be a lot of assholes riding them.

9. So, we see in movies what we want to see, and if I take off the Pinkwash Lenses, there’s no queer coding in Luca, which is actually refreshing. A lot of times movies will have characters that we know are gay, without actually confirming they’re gay, so it’s like representation without representation. I hate that, because it’s pandering to an audience without actually giving that audience any content. Luca is just good storytelling about being an outsider, and watching it as someone who was an outsider at that age makes me want to tell gay jokes about it. This could also be a story about Black students integrating schools during segregation or poor kids being bussed to fancy districts or women enrolling at the Citadel.

10. There should be more movies pitched toward boys that show emotion in friendships and closeness between guys. Little boys can have feelings too, and I got misty thinking back to the little boy I was who wasn’t allowed to show any. Good job, Disney.

Score 8/10

 

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