Movie Reviews

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

the-trial-chicago-7-netflix-movie-review-posterDirector: Aaron Sorkin

Genre: Drama, History, Thriller

Runtime: 129 Minutes

Main Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharpe, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton

Plot: At the 1968 Democratic National Convention, what was intended to be a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War turned violent. The organisers of the protest were all charged with conspiracy to incite a riot, and this movie is the story of that trial that went on for months.

My Thoughts: Let’s file this under ‘movies that taught Allie about actual history’ because this is another historical event I was oblivious to until now. I guess that’s why movies like this are so important! Courtroom dramas can be difficult to get right I think, when they don’t work they can be slow, dull even, but when they’re done right? They are fascinating, frustrating, and compelling. I’m happy to say that The Trail of the Chicago 7 falls into the latter category for me. I haven’t been this engrossed in a movie since, well…possibly all year, to be honest.

I wouldn’t even pretend to understand American politics so I was a little lost at first but once the trial actually started I was in for the long haul, and it didn’t take long until I was shouting at the TV. It’s the Chicago 7, right, so why are there 8 men on trial? The 8th man was Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. He was in Chicago during the riot for all of 4 hours, but was brought in essentially so that there was a black man to scare the jury. Think that’s bad? The man didn’t even have a lawyer present! That’s only the start of the shocking, dirty tactics at hand here, I’ll let you see the rest for yourselves.

The movies doesn’t stop outside of the courtroom though, we get to see what happens in between each day of the trial too, as well as flashbacks to what happened in the run up to and during the protest itself. This is where we get to see the relationship between the defense grow stronger but also strain at the seams. It’s a tough movie to sell to the average Netflix user, it certainly doesn’t scream ‘fun’, but I haven’t felt this way about a movie like this since Spotlight (2015). Each performance is on point, and if I’m praising Eddie Redmayne then you know I really mean it, because he normally just winds me up.

trial-chicago-7-yahya-abdul-mateen-mark-rylance

Best Bit:  The cast is stacked, there’s no other way to say it, and everyone puts in 110% making it almost impossible to pick a stand out performance, I could write a whole post in itself just to talk about everyone. Eddie Redmayne reminds me that he’s actually pretty darn talented, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is just a delight to see in new movies again but the actor who blew me away was Sacha Baron Cohen. I’ve only seen his silly, comedic roles which he’s great at, and I’ve never seen him like this. He still brings most of the laughs but when he takes the stand as a witness it genuinely shocked me.

Worst Bit: There’s nothing about this movie that makes me want to say “I didn’t like this bit” or “this scene kinda sucked”. Yes, the start confused me a little but that’s on me. But there was a moment that made me so uncomfortable that I felt quite nautious, and that was when *SPOILERS* Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was dragged out of court and brought back gagged and tied to his chair. Like, that ACTUALLY happened. 

Fun Trivia: As a method actor, Jeremy Strong (Jerry Rubin) begged writer-director Aaron Sorkin to get him teargassed as well as being thrown on the ground by an ex-cop portraying a riot police officer. Sorkin refused to have this happen on set.

My Rating:  A full 5 gavels, and it wouldn’t matter how loud Judge Hoffman smacked them, that room was never going to quiet down in the end.

trial-chicago-7-judge-hoffman-gavel

Movie Reviews

Review: Ready Player One (2018)

ready-player-one-review-2018-movieI can’t believe I finally got to see Ready Player One, a movie I’ve been waiting for for 2 years last week, and I’m only just writing about it now. In my defence, I’ve been kept busy in the evenings playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and y’no, I have a baby. A baby who is currently napping waving her blanket in the air and babbling, so this may take a while. Mornings like these make me really want to slip on a VR headset and enter the OASIS!

The movie is set in the not-too-far-away future where we’re all addicted to virtual reality. The creator of this VR called the OASIS has passed away and left behind a competition for everyone in the form of an easter egg hunt. Whoever can find all 3 keys which lead to the egg will win full ownership of the OASIS. It’s a lot to take in, but a good chunk of the opening of the movie explains it all in a fair amount of detail. I’ve read the book so I knew the story anyway, but I do question how much a fresh viewer would take in.

Our focus is on Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), better known by his avatar’s name, Parzival. Wade lives in ‘the Stacks’, a run-down area formed of caravans stacked on top of each other. Wade and his best friend Aech (Lena Waithe) along with fellow ‘Gunters’ (egg hunters) Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Philip Zhao) form an alliance to find the egg before corporate douchebag Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and his army beat them to it.

ready-player-one-olivia-cooke-tye-sheridan

My favourite thing about this movie adaptation is the casting – it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s so hard when a beloved book comes on to the big screen and your visions of the characters are shattered by odd casting choices. I couldn’t have chosen a better cast myself in this case. Mark Rylance as the awkward creator of the OASIS is spot on, and I had the goofiest grin on my face every time Ben Mendelsohn showed up. I’m just so gutted that Simon Pegg’s character Ogden wasn’t around very much because he was a much bigger character in the book.

Of course, a lot of the movie is set within the OASIS, so rather than seeing these actors we actually see their avatars, so as you can imagine, it’s CGI-heavy. Rather than it being an attack on the senses though it’s absolutely stunning. I was SO glad I got to see it in the cinema for that reason!

ready-player-one-parzival-anorak

As you’ve no doubt heard, Ready Player One is packed to the brim of 80’s and gaming references. It’s done so tastefully though that even if you recognise none of them, the movie won’t be spoiled for you. Rather than being thrown at your face all the time, it’s just constantly there in the background, making rewatches a lot of fun I imagine as you’ll spot things you may have missed the first time around.

I loved it if you can’t tell, and my only gripes are from changes from the book, which I know can never be helped. 4 and a half easter eggs from me, which reminds me that I think I still have some left-over chocolate in the cupboard…

ready-player-one-rating-review-easter-eggs

Nevermind – my baby just woke up from her nap.

 

Movie Reviews

Review: Dunkirk (2017)

dunkirk-movie-review-2017I feel as movie bloggers we always encourage everyone around us to go and see movies at the cinema, to experience them in the way they should be, but deep down there are plenty of movies just as great viewed on our TVs at home, it’s just the atmosphere of the cinema that we enjoy so much. Big, action movies are obviously always great on the big screen but if there is ever a movie I will regret not seeing at the cinema, actually, in IMAX, it’s Dunkirk (2017).

Does anyone else feel like they were waiting ages for Dunkirk to be released? I’m sure we got that teaser trailer at least a year before it was actually released. I don’t know why I didn’t trek out for it, especially with Christopher Nolan at the helm, but I’ve never had much of an interest in historical or war movies.

Even as someone completely ignorant to history (it was my least favourite subject at school), I knew the story of what happened at Dunkirk, so I’ll be brief in explaining what it’s all about. The movie essentially follows several heroes in the evacuation of the soldiers trapped on the beach of Dunkirk during World War II.

dunkirk-mark-rylance-cillian-murphy-2017

If you’ve seen the trailer, and felt the tension in those 2 minutes, that’s essentially what the entire movie is. 1 hour and 46 minutes of pure, white knuckled tension. In fact, I think there’s an argument to be made that Dunkirk isn’t a movie at all, it’s more of an experience. I felt drained after the credits rolled, and it wasn’t just baby-induced sleep deprivation, I swear.

Despite not getting and kind of backstory or development to any of the main characters, I really felt for every one of them, especially Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy. I won’t talk spoilers here, but Cillian Murphy’s character winds up doing something awful, and yet I couldn’t feel anger towards him, and Tom Hardy’s character’s story was breathtaking and heartbreaking. Every story here is worth shouting about, but those are the two that stood out the most for me.

dunkirk-tom-hardy-2017

As someone who avidly avoids movies in this genre, I honestly can’t say a bad word about Dunkirk, and I’ll be watching it again as soon as possible. I know it’s one my husband would enjoy so it might even be as soon as this weekend, we’ll see. Can I start a petition for it to be re-released in the cinema so I can see it properly? I can only imagine the atmosphere as each screen emptied after each viewing.

Out of respect for the true story behind this movie it seems wrong to do my usual silly rating, so I’m keeping it simple today and giving Dunkirk a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars. Probably my favourite movie of 2017, and even though I have so many of last year’s releases to catch up on, I’m confident it will stay as my number 1 choice!

dunkirk-review-2017-stars