Tag Archives: Jeremy Strong

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Review

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Strong coarse language
Cast:
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Deale
Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman
Daniel Flaherty as John Froines
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz
Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark
Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman
John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger
Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden
Noah Robbins as Lee Weiner
Mark Rylance as William Kunstler
Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis
Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin
Director: Aaron Sorkin

The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. The cast alone had my interest, with the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Eddie Redmayne and more involved. Then there’s the writer and director Aaron Sorkin, who’s the writer behind fantastic scripts for The Social Network and Steve Jobs. Not only that, but the event it’s based on has a lot of potential for a great movie, with it being quite significant and infamous. This film had been in development for quite some time, Sorkin wrote the script in 2007 and it had been passed around to other directors before finally he decided to direct it himself. The Trial of the Chicago 7 ended up being a really great movie and I loved watching it from beginning to end.

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One of the strongest parts of the film no surprise is Aaron Sorkin’s script. It has all the things you’d expect from his writing, snappy and captivating dialogue, a fast pace, and memorable moments. I was actively captivated throughout, Sorkin does very well at locking you in with what’s happening from beginning to end. Much of the movie is a courtroom drama, and this certainly ranks among the best courtroom dramas from recent years. There are some very strong parallels to current events with regard to protests, police brutality and the like (even when the story takes place in the late 60s), and there are many impactful moments. You can get quite frustrated with some of what happens during the trial, and this really showed the movie’s effectiveness. Some people have complained about Sorkin’s ‘Sorkinisms’ in this movie, with some of the dialogue choices and especially with how he chose to represent certain events on screen, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get some of the criticisms. There are definitely moments that didn’t happen like that in real life. The ending especially is such a feel good ending that might actually be too much for some people, it’s one of those scenes from biopics where you don’t even need to read up on the real life events to tell that it never happened. I would’ve liked to have seen a darker and more accurate representation of events for sure. Then again this is Sorkin, and we’ve come to expect this from him.

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There’s a massive ensemble cast for this movie, and everyone is great on their parts. I’ll start with my favourites from the film. Sacha Baron Cohen and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II were the scene-stealers for me. Yahya particularly had such a screen presence and does so much in his screentime, I just wish we got more scenes of him because he was truly fantastic. Another standout performance was from Mark Rylance, who is also great as the lawyer defending the Chicago 7. Eddie Redmayne plays really the lead of the movie, he’s the character who goes through the most development over the course of the movie. It’s certainly a different performance from him, but it’s a surprisingly effective performance, and particularly plays off Cohen very well. The rest of the Chicago 7 were acted well by actors like John Caroll Lynch and Jeremy Strong. Other performances were also great, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the federal prosecutor, Michael Keaton as an attorney general in an important role later in the story, as well as Frank Langella as the judge.

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As many people will say, Aaron Sorkin the writer is way better than Aaron Sorkin the director. I did like his first film Molly’s Game, but it showed that he still had a way to go as a filmmaker. His work on Trial of the Chicago 7 is definitely a step above his first movie. The strongest part of the movie on a technical level is the editing, which really works in favour of the script. This is particularly the case in the opening 10 minutes which efficiently sets up and explains so many things that happened prior to the event that sparked the trial. Additionally in the script there are many flashforward and flashback scenes, and while it could’ve been disorientating, Sorkin really pulled it off and made it effective. With all that being said, whenever Sorkin’s scripts are made into movies by top tier directors like David Fincher and Danny Boyle, they brought the scripts to another level to create fantastic films. If Trial of the Chicago 7 was given to someone of that caliber, it probably would’ve been even better. Still, I would say the direction was good. The score by Daniel Pemberton is also good, not amongst his all time best work, but it worked really well for this movie.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 is currently one of my favourite movies of the year. It felt like an inspiring courtroom thriller made in the 90s, and I mean that in the best way possible. The timely, entertaining and engaging story, the fantastic script and outstanding acting alone makes it really worth watching.

The Gentlemen (2019) Review

Time: 113 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use & sexual material
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Pearson
Charlie Hunnam as Raymond
Henry Golding as Dry Eye
Michelle Dockery as Rosalind Pearson
Jeremy Strong as Matthew Berger
Eddie Marsan as Mike
Colin Farrell as Coach
Hugh Grant as Fletcher
Director: Guy Ritchie

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is an American expatriate who became rich by building a marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes from those who want his fortune.

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The Gentlemen was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. Director Guy Ritchie hasn’t been doing so well with his recent movies. People have wanted him to return to the crime genre that made Ritchie known, with the likes of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and RocknRolla, and with The Gentlemen we finally have that. Add on top of that a great cast, and there was a lot there I was looking forward to. I found myself to be really entertained by The Gentlemen, and it was a nice way of starting off the new decade for movies.

The Gentlemen feels like a movie that Guy Ritchie could’ve made back in the 2000s, for better and for worse. The characters and story aren’t necessarily interesting, but they’re nonetheless very well written and entertaining, in the same way that Snatch was really entertaining. There isn’t much action in the movie, in fact the dialogue really is the action. It’s sharp, memorable, and really funny, and I’m a fan of well done dark humour, so this really worked for me. This movie is very much not politically correct to say the least, and I know that a lot of people won’t like some of the jokes (and it’s understandable). I mostly liked it, and it doesn’t feel like it’s necessarily trying to be too edgy for the most part. With that said, there were a couple moments that probably should’ve been left out, one in particular was really unneeded and shouldn’t have been included in the first place. Most of the movie for what it is though was really good.

A large part of why this movie works so well is the fantastic cast, with Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant. McConaughey is in the lead role, and although he seems a little out of place with him being really the only American in the main cast, he fits into the movie rather well. Hunnam actually surprised me quite a lot, he really does some good work here. The two standouts to me personally were Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant. Farrell is in a minor role but gets so many moments to shine. However, this may just be Grant’s movie, he’s in a completely different role that you’re used to seeing him in. He steals the show every time he’s on screen, he’s the one actually telling much of the story, and he’s constantly entertaining.

Guy Ritchie is definitely at home directing in this genre. While his style like much of the story and the like are similar to his other crime movies, it’s polished up rather nicely here. All of his style works, especially when it comes to Grant’s character telling the story. A lot of people could say that this movie is style over substance, but with Ritchie, his style is his substance, and it works pretty well for the film.

The Gentlemen is a return to form for Guy Ritchie. It’s darkly hilarious, constantly entertaining, effectively written and directed, and the cast do well. It’s not quite on the level on some of his other movies, but it’s still by far his best movie in many years. If you liked Ritchie’s past crime movies, this might just be what you’re looking for, if you’re not then don’t bother with this one. I hope he continues to make more of these types of movies instead of his recent blockbusters, because he’s really great at the former.

Serenity (2019) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Baker Dill
Anne Hathaway as Karen Zariakas
Diane Lane as Constance
Jason Clarke as Frank Zariakas
Djimon Hounsou as Duke
Jeremy Strong as Reid Miller
Director: Steven Knight

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain who leads tours off of the tranquil enclave of Plymouth Island. His peaceful life is soon shattered when his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) tracks him down. Desperate for help, Karen begs Baker to save her — and their young son — from her abusive husband (Jason Clarke). She wants him to take the brute out for a fishing excursion — then throw him overboard to the sharks. Thrust back into a life that he wanted to forget, Baker now finds himself struggling to choose between right and wrong.

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I think I might’ve heard about Serenity a little while ago. The cast consists of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway but also this would be writer/director Steven Knight’s second film, after his debut with Locke. However, what got me really noticing the movie was the response to it, it wasn’t just badly received, it was labelled a hilarious disaster. Eventually I caved in and decided to watch it, it really wasn’t a good movie but it was fascinatingly bad at points, which at least gave it some entertainment value.

Steven Knight has written a lot with the likes of Eastern Promises and of course his directorial debut Locke, so it’s clear that he has quite a bit of talent at writing. While I hadn’t watched all of his written movies, I thought that The Girl in the Spider’s Web would be his worst work, Serenity proved me wrong however. Much of the movie moves really slow and is about catching fish, so even though the main plot is about Anne Hathaway getting Matthew McConaughey to kill her husband, it’s stretched over a long period of time, and mostly just being him trying to catch a particular fish. There are so many absurd things done over the course of the movie and it just end up being hilarious. Matthew McConaughey is constantly after a fish named Justice, there’s a character who literally refers to himself as “The Rules”, and some things that are meant to be taken seriously are just done in such a silly way (there are even more examples but border into spoiler territory, so I won’t go into depth with those). Some of the dialogue is quite weird and unnatural, “I’m a hooker with no hooks” and “We haven’t caught jack since your wife died” are among some of the odd lines of dialogue that we are blessed with. You’d think that this is at the very least a partial comedy given all the genres it tries to be but it actually plays the whole story very seriously. Being written averagely is one thing. However in terms of movie breaking issues, there’s a big chunk of the movie I can’t talk about because of spoilers, and that’s the twists and the direction of the story. You get hints of the main twist in the first 30 minutes and you can figure it out pretty quickly. Then at the hour mark it just reveals everything to the audience, it’s worse than that, they spell it out for the audience. The concept of the twist isn’t bad itself but it needed to be handled much better than how it was, because the end result was honestly pretty ridiculous and doesn’t work at all. It goes in such a far off direction from what you’re expecting going in, it’s really bonkers. When you look back on many of the events knowing the twist, there are a lot of things that don’t add up and it just makes the movie even more silly. With that twist, it’s like Serenity is trying to have 5 genres all in one movie, and none of them go together at all.

This movie has quite the talented cast, unfortunately the film really didn’t utilise them that well, even if they try their best. Matthew McConaughey’s performance isn’t bad, he puts everything that he could into this movie. Yes, his performance can be pretty over the top at times, and him getting ‘dramatic’ and randomly yelling at some points, you can’t help but find him to be hilarious, honestly though I can’t blame him too much, at least he tried. Anne Hathaway also tries her best in her role, but she too is held back by the writing. Despite working together on Interstellar, you wouldn’t know that McConaughey and Hathaway had even seen each other before filming, and keep in mind that the two characters are like ex-spouses. The chemistry between them is non existent. The rest of the cast don’t really get anything to work with. Jason Clarke plays Hathway’s abusive husband (given no subtlety or humanity whatsoever and is basically a cartoon throughout much of the movie), Diane Lane’s only purpose in the film is to have sex with McConaughey and Djimon Hounsou is just sort of in there in the movie and isn’t that significant in the plot.

Steven Knight’s direction of Locke was simple but effective, even though it largely just took place inside a car in one night. Here he works on a much larger scale, and while his work here isn’t disastrous, it’s got a lot of problems. To be fair to Serenity, it can look really good at some points. However, some of the decisions like the zoom ins and fast paced moments, as well as the occasionally jarring editing really take you out of the whole experience. Even the music was pretty generic and didn’t fit with the movie at all.

Serenity was a really weird misfire of a movie. It really all comes back to the writing, with its weird dialogue, a plot with many ideas that don’t come together, and add upon those ludicrous twists that don’t work at all, it’s a fascinating movie to watch. I can see why it was pushed a couple of times from last year to January of this year. In terms of positives, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway do their best with the material that they have, and the cinematography can be alright at points, but they can’t save this movie from being a mess. While I wouldn’t put it under the so-bad-it’s-good category like so many people have, I’d say that it is strange and unintentionally funny enough that it might be worth a watch.

Molly’s Game (2017) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, drug use & offensive language
Cast
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom
Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey
Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom
Michael Cera as Player X
Brian d’Arcy James as Brad
Chris O’Dowd as Douglas Downey
J. C. MacKenzie as Harrison Wellstone
Bill Camp as Harlan Eustice
Graham Greene as Judge Foxman
Jeremy Strong as Dean Keith
Director: Aaron Sorkin

The true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

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I was pretty interested in Molly’s Game. Not only does it have a cast with Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera and Kevin Costner and based on a true story, but also Aaron Sorkin along with writing the script would be making his directional debut with this film. Aaron Sorkin has written The Social Network, Steve Jobs, A Few Good Men, Moneyball and much more, so naturally I was excited to see how he would do. For a directional debut, Aaron Sorkin did a pretty great job. Molly’s Game is a very good movie with the script and the performances being the highlights.

Aaron Sorkin is a fantastic writer, so the fact that Molly’s Game is very well written shouldn’t come as such a big surprise. The dialogue is fantastic as to be expected. This really is a movie that requires you to fully focus on it because of how much information is shown, mostly through narration. There are some bits where it can be a bit complicated and I wasn’t fully grasping absolutely everything. However, even if you get lost at points, you can usually have a general understanding of what’s going on because the movie does pretty well at explaining most things. I was interested and riveted in this story from start to finish. In terms of flaws, the movie jumps between different time periods and while you can tell within the first 10 seconds which time period it is, it nonetheless feels very jarring when it does change. Also tis movie is long, its 2 hours and 20 minutes long and you can really feel the length. It doesn’t necessarily drag but you really do feel its length. With that said, off the top of my head I can’t think of any particular scene that I would remove but there would probably be some scenes that aren’t as relevant or important as others.

Jessica Chastain is typically great, she’s one of the best actresses working today and always brings her A game to ever movie she’s in. She’s playing a real life person who you are really rooting for. Very interesting character (real life person), which is compliment by an excellent performance by Chastain. Idris Elba is also really good as Molly’s lawyer. There are especially a couple scenes in the third act where he really gets to shine. Michael Cera is surprisingly really good, playing the character of Player X, who may or may not be based on Tobey Maguire (it definitely is). It’s a small role and he’s not in the movie too much but Cera does well to make an impression. On another note, when you are watching Molly’s Game, just picture Tobey Maguire in Michael Cera’s role, it makes things a lot more interesting and revealing. Kevin Costner also is good as Molly’s father, the two have a difficult and complicated relationship and Costner did very well in his role.

Aaron Sorkin did very well at directing Molly’s Game for a directional debut. The movie stylised and fast paced at times and it all fitted well together. There is a lot of narration, which often can feel like an easy way of dumping exposition but on top of the writing being excellent, Sorkin integrated it into the film very well. You can kind of tell that Sorkin’s writing in Molly’s Game is better than his direction, but that’s to be expected given that this is the first movie that he directed. Besides, for a first movie he did very well.

Molly’s Game is a really good movie, quite interesting and entertaining for the majority of the runtime. The performances were great (with Chastain, Elba and Cera being the highlights) and Aaron Sorkin was fantastic at both writing and directing here. I’m looking forward to seeing Aaron Sorkin direct more films because he showed that he can direct a solid movie, and I can only see him getting better and better at directing the more movies he makes.