Trial of the Chicago 7: This movie was just released on Netflix this past weekend. It has an impressive cast including Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance, with Sasha Baron Cohen, Michael Keaton, J Gordon-Levitt and others. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin you know that it will have really good dialog, from his previous efforts like Molly’s Game, Steve Jobs, The Social Network, Moneyball etc. From TV he wrote series like The West Wing and The Newsroom. The story focuses on the story of a trial for eight organizers of protests outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968. One of the eight was the leader of the Black Panthers. Others included Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, and Jerry Rubin. Most only know Hoffman as the flamboyant and outrageous hippie from Woodstock and other memorable gatherings. J Gordon-Levitt is the young prosecutor on the case sent by John Mitchell (the new Attorney General under the Nixon White House). This is a quality political and court room drama. One can see the effect of a judge in a proceeding. Further one can make parallels with the uncertain times with much unrest in the population. There is a Republican President (Nixon) with his own agenda, his own views of Presidential power and how the country should be run. A change in the Oval Office leads to a change in the treatment of those who attended the rally, where there was some police instigated violence, and also addressed those who were still protesting the Viet Nam war effort. Discussion is made about a “political trial” where Abbie Hoffman first brings up the concept. The events of the actual arrests unfold over time and we can see the actions of the police and those of the City of Chicago. In short, I think Sorkin has out together an excellent cast who dramatize the events of this group in uncertain political times. Lessons to the present day are everywhere. Rylance as one of the lawyers does an excellent job continuing the educate the presiding Judge over the lack of legal representation of the Black Panther leader. This is definitely worth your time to view.
James Vs His Future Self: I have to admit that my limited experience with Canadian film generally leaves me with an idea at first that the Canadian subject may feel like “second class”. It’s kind of like watching a made-for-TV movie rather than Hollywood production. With Canadian content rules you see many of the same Canadian actors. But more recently I watched and enjoyed Away From Her, and now I have seen this with Daniel Stern (from Home Alone, Wonder Years and Diner fame). He plays the elder version of himself in a time travel movie that principally deals with issues like love, marriage, work, quality of life etc. Younger James, played by Jonas Chernick is a scientist in a large company who is looking to advance the technology in time travel. He is one of the principal researchers and looking to obtain a promotion from the principal researcher. Along comes his future self, proving that it works, but discouraging him from doing so, because of what he personally has given up for the sake of the project. There is a push and pull of his present self justifying his own ambitions and looking to convince the older self that he can make it turn out differently. All of this is filmed in Sudbury, of all places, but the lake and the environment are inviting. Much to my surprise I did enjoy this. The high tech and CGI was downplayed and the story with the characters emphasized.
The story with James builds on a theme for a book I was reading entitled Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, the Detroit sports writer and author. It is a quick read and discusses Albom’s meeting up with his old college professor as he is fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). It is not a disease for the squeamish. But Morrie has a different perspective, feeling as though he wants to live by helping others, not fading away into obscurity, quietly passing away. He reaches out. He does TV interviews with Ted Koppel of Nightline (three times) and expresses his views on the important things in life. Love, Marriage, Family, Relationships, Friends – not Money, Power, Prestige, Work and Objects. He is a rich man for the things that matter to him, intent on teaching until the end, and showing others how life corrections can happen at any time. I am thankful to have read this and it was impactful for me.