The “Find” this week of the three movies that I saw, at least worth reporting on, would be The Wife with Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winner Glenn Close. This is a really good film with a story that unravels slowly, and reveals itself with some flashbacks and current events with a couple. He is a writer, who early on wins the Nobel Prize for literature. I give nothing away by saying that. The husband and wife, have two children (an elder daughter and aspiring writer adult son). Daughter is pregnant and doesn’t make the trip to Sweden. The couple attends various events in preparation for the big celebration. Beyond this I really can’t give much more away without saying too much. I think this film will really only be fully appreciated upon a second viewing. There are certain things that are revealed that can colour one’s viewing at the time, but then only upon reflection can you piece together the earlier parts. So I won’t say any more about the plot. This film was apparently 14 years in the making, and it took courage to fund it. I saw it on DVD, and it is in limited release in Toronto. Glenn Close’s daughter plays the earlier version of her character in College when she first meets her future husband. Jeremy Irons’ son plays the aspiring writer son. Interesting. This was worthwhile. It is a story about a woman, and the choices that she makes. Close does some of her best work. She has been nominated seven times for an Academy Award. There may be those who think that this is a lifetime achievement award, and I have little doubt that she will finally win Best Actress, but this role stands on its own merit. Just see how she reacts at the end of the film., for example. As I texted to Alison “See it, Just see it…” She already had.
Movie two was BlacKkKlansman which was another true story that is directed by Spike Lee (nominated again for an Academy Award). This is the first time he has been nominated for Directing. Do The Right Thing was nominated for Writing and Screenplay. This story begins in the early 1970s when the ongoing antagonism between black and white was once more time coming to a head with the Vietnam War, among other things. The movie’s focus is from a young black police officer (the first in Colorado Springs Co) who in short order infiltrates the KKK, by calling a local number and talking with a recruiter. He actually ended up having numerous conversations with David Duke himself, the Grand Master of the Order at the time. When a meeting takes place, he has a Jewish colleague make the meeting. There are good scenes, well acted by passionate people from both sides (both representing more militant factions of Black Power and White Power movements). Lee effectively shows how each side tolerates and accepts the more radical sides of their beliefs. He also effectively shows how those troubled days in the 70s have laid the foundation for the current Trump administration in 2019. The slogans during the election are used from back in the day, and you can see where hate leads. How divisive the language is and how the policies of separation and protectionism have crept back in to protect power and keep people of colour (all colours) at bay. This was a good film too and both youngest son and I enjoyed the history lesson and a few chuckles when the Klan and those that support it, are made to look ridiculous, no matter how much of a smiling face they want to put on it.
Finally, the final film was in the theatre, again with a more historical underpinning with On The Basis of Sex, which is the Ruth Bader Ginsburg film starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer. I did not see the CNN documentary on the Supreme Court Justice, but this is a story about her relationship with her husband, and the one case in particular that they tried together in the Colorado Appeals Court. She was one of the first women to attend Harvard Law School. Her husband was the year ahead of her. He moved to a job in NYC when he completed school and she went him (along with her infant child) to finish at Columbia Law School. Harvard refused to give her her diploma from the school. Never mind as she went on to great things, despite not being able to land a job in NYC after finishing first in her class, and on the Law Review in BOTH Harvard and Columbia. Different times then, and she became a professor. On the legal side, she and her husband represented a man, who was denied a Care Givers deduction on his taxes from the IRS because he was a man. He was never married, and took care of his ailing Mother. Only a woman could obtain the deduction and the Colorado court of first instance agreed with the ruling. It was amazing to see the Government argue that the many hundreds of cases which discriminated against one sex or the other were too voluminous to justify overturning the initial decision. The ACLU, and Ruth and her husband had to be creative and convince a panel of three Appellant judges that they could do right. It is shocking to think about just how few years it was when women were not treated equally. A generation. And this is an ongoing theme of this week’s films. Both this movie and The Wife show societies that aren’t ready for women to be on equal ground. That the fabric of society is set, and unchanging. As they point out in this movie, the law lags behind as society changes. Precedent is a funny thing, as it binds you to the past, even when the world around you no longer thinks that way. I know the “liberal” thinkers in the US are praying for good health for Madam Justice Ginsburg, as they hope the Trump Administration doesn’t get a chance to nominate another Supreme Court Justice who will shape the laws for the coming decades (and it is decades). There is a good history lesson in this film, and in the life of this remarkable woman. Perhaps the most poignant for me is in her own realization that her life’s work to that point wasn’t just for her, but her strong willed daughter, who stood up for herself and wasn’t afraid to voice her discontent for what she felt was injustice around her. This was a good film. As the son of a strong-willed woman, I appreciate it even more – women in those days really were Super-Women who took care of the house, the kids, the career all the while being treated as a second class citizen. Thanks to all those who stayed the course and redirected the sails in a direction that we are still finding today.