REVIEW: ‘Chicago 7’ is a compelling look at justice and politics, despite flaws

In most court movies, there’s just one defendant on trial. This Netflix release gives seven for the price of one.

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, “Trial of the Chicago 7” takes place in the aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. On the outside of the convention were large protests, and following the political event, eight were charged by the government for inciting riots.

The defendants included Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Alex Sharp (Rennie Davis), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jeremy Strong (Jerry Rubin), John Lynch (David Dellinger), Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), John Froines (Daniel Flaherty) and Bob Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). During the trial, though, Seale’s case was severed and the defendant list went to seven. The federal prosecutor in the case is Tom Foran (J.C. MacKenzie) while the main lawyer for the defense is William Kunstler (Mark Rylance).

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REVIEW: ‘The Glorias’ is scattered but insightful

Julianne Moore was already partly ready for this role, as just a couple years earlier she played another character named Gloria in “Gloria Bell.”

The Gloria in this movie, though, is the real life Gloria Steinem. In this biopic, written and directed by Julie Taymor, the influential women’s rights advocate is played by several actresses, as the film explores multiple periods of Steinem’s life.

The audience gets to see Steinem’s experiences in childhood, her early jobs as a journalist, and later her involvement with ERA passage efforts. Along with insight into her career works, the film dives into many of the relationships Steinem had, from family to friends.

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REVIEW: ‘Official Secrets’ endures issues to deliver compelling drama

With the closure of movie theaters because of the coronavirus pandemic, I’m taking a look back at more movies from 2019.

The lead up to the chaotic foreign policy situation that is the Iraq War involved the United States government heavily pressuring the United Nations Security Council.

One of the ways it planned to do so was to gather compromising details about other U.N. diplomats, and potentially use blackmail, to swing any Iraq decision. This was eventually discovered by an employee at the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters.

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REVIEW: Driver’s lead performance powers ‘The Report’

One of the darkest periods of recent American history comes to light in rather convincing fashion in “The Report.”

The movie stars Adam Driver as Daniel Jones, a staff worker for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (Annette Bening) office, who’s tasked with scoping out the Central Intelligence Agency’s enhanced interrogation program and filing a report that can be made public. Over the course of several years, Jones uncovers much of the CIA’s torture program and brings his findings back to Feinstein.

However, the process isn’t made all too easy because of senior leadership in the CIA, who want to keep the program that was used in the years after Sept. 11 classified. The movie tracks Jones’ efforts as he tries to get the report out, and navigate the politics in the process.

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REVIEW: Inconsistencies are a detriment to ‘Vice’

Director Adam McKay had a few comedies under his belt before hitting the award circuit in a major way with “The Big Short” in 2015. In that film, McKay took on the 2008 housing crisis and Great Recession with brilliant humor,  while still exploring the serious subject matter. McKay tries to do the same thing here with “Vice,” but the results are much more mixed.

The movie is about the rise of former Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who served alongside former President George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) from 2001-2008. The picture explores how Cheney went from a Congressional aide, to a House member, then to having seats in the White House staff, and finally, assuming the vice presidential position. Over the course of its runtime, “Vice” shows Cheney’s relationship to his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), his daughters, and his political allies, such as Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell).

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REVIEW: While flawed, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is an engaging take on a wild true story

Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee has returned to the directors chair, this time to helm a crime/cop drama that’s actually based on a true story.

Taking place in the 1970s, “BlacKkKlansman” follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a recent addition to a police department in Colorado. As a rookie in the department, Ron initially works in the records division. However, he eventually convinces the chief to get a chance in undercover detective work.

After a short time in the new division, Ron ends up taking a chance by phone to call a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, Ron is able to keep track of the local Klan’s strategies and if they’re seeking to do anything violent. To make the investigation even more effective, Ron works with Flip (Adam Driver), a fellow detective who takes Ron’s place during in-person meetings with the Klan.

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REVIEW: ‘The Post’ Is A Journalism Film That’s Good, Not Great

Legendary director Steven Spielberg takes a shot at one of the biggest battles over the First Amendment in “The Post.”

Like the title lets on, the film follows the staff at the Washington Post, specifically its editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and the publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep). The film picks up in the midst of the Richard Nixon Presidency, just as the Pentagon Papers are first being published by the New York Times.

The publishing upsets the Nixon-led government, though, to the point where an injunction is filed against the Times. The Post, meanwhile, also gets hold of the papers, leading to a question between Graham and Bradlee on whether or not to publish.

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REVIEW: Although Plotting Isn’t Perfect, ‘Detroit’ Is Still An Important, Well Made Film That Deserves A Watch

One of the most horrific acts of police brutality is portrayed in “Detroit,” the latest film from Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

The film brings audiences into the city of Detroit in 1967, when a massive race riot took place. As the unrest heightened, more law enforcement and even the National Guard were called in to restore order. As this takes place, viewers are introduced to a number of characters, including a security guard, Dismukes (John Boyega), a Detroit police officer, Krauss (Will Poulter) and a singer who gets caught up in the riots named Larry (Algee Smith).

Once the characters are introduced, they all converge at the Algiers Motel. There, because officers heard gun shots, a squad of police led by Krauss enter the hotel and torture the occupants staying there in an attempt to find out who did the ‘shooting.’ The actions by the officers eventually leads to three men dying and the film then showcases the following legal proceedings.

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REVIEW: A Compelling Look At A Historic Tragedy In ‘the Promise’ Held Back By Romantic Subplot

“The Promise” is a picture that acts as both a historical period piece and a romantic drama. Unfortunately, the latter becomes a weakness to the overall film.

The movie sets itself up at the onset of the first World War in the Ottoman Empire and mainly follows three characters, a medical student named Mikael (Oscar Isaac), an American reporter with the Associated Press named Chris (Christian Bale) and his fiance Ana (Charlotte Le Bon). After the three meet, a romantic triangle begins to develop between them causing some expected friction.

However, the real drama of the film comes as the war deepens and the Armenian Genocide begins. This poses immediate danger to Mikael and Ana as they both have Armenian backgrounds and are forced out of their normal lives. Meanwhile, Chris begins to document both the war and the genocide for the AP.

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Oscar Docs: A Look At The Front-Runners “13th” And “Made In America”

The Academy Award for Best Documentary has five nominees, but the competition has more or less narrowed to two.

The pair of candidates includes “13th” and “O.J.: Made in America.” In both films, race is a central matter that’s deeply explored and well connected to their respective core subjects.

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