Friday, December 4, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 40
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
BEST WISHES, WARMEST REGARDS: A SCHITT’S CREEK FAREWELL
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: CASA DE LAS FLORES
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARIES
BINGEABLE: OUTLANDER (2014-present)
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FISH TANK (2009)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOUSE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: OLDBOY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BLOW THE MAN DOWN
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
DA 5 BLOODS
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET
FIRST COW
GREYHOUND
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAPPIEST SEASON
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
LYING AND STEALING
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE OPERATIVE
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO SEVEN
THE VAST OF NIGHT
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BOSCH
TV REVIEW: COBRA KAI
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EVIL
TV REVIEW: FEAR CITY
TV REVIEW: GENERATION KILL (2008)
TV REVIEW: HANNIBAL (2013-2015)
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK
TV REVIEW: JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: PANDEMIC: HOW TO PREVENT AN OUTBREAK (2020)
TV REVIEW: RAISED BY WOLVES
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MORNING SHOW
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: THE THIRD DAY
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: TREADSTONE (2019)
TV REVIEW: TRIAL 4 (2020)
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
VINYL NATION

The Trail of the Chicago Seven depicts a shameful moment in American history

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO SEVEN

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS PICTURES

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO SEVEN


Where is it playing?: Netflix

What's it rated?: R

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Writer-director Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing, Molly’s Game) helms this historical drama about a group of anti-war protesters—Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), and John Froines (Danny Flaherty)—on trial for conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of starting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (129 min.)

Glen: I didn’t know a lot about this episode in American history, but it certainly marks another low point. Masterfully told by Sorkin, the story moves back and forth through time, from the courtroom to the days leading up to the convention, and eventually the protest rally and ensuing riot. Exiting President Johnson had already decided not to pursue charges against the protest organizers, but tough-on-crime entering President Nixon wanted to put the hammer down on the counterculture, and this trial proved to be a perfect way to show the antiestablishment types that they weren’t going to get away with dissent on Nixon’s watch. Judge Julius Hoffman (an excellent Frank Langella) turned out to be the perfect instrument to deliver punishment. His bias is never in question, and his rulings were designed to favor the prosecution, so much so that lead prosecutor Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) seems downright embarrassed by the favoritism. The two stars of the antiwar protesters are Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden, and they couldn’t be more different. Hoffman is irreverent, rude, and lowbrow. Hayden wants to play by the establishment rules to win his point. All the personalities are compelling, as is the story. This should be required viewing for all Americans.

Anna: I too knew this marker in history much more by name than the actuality of what went down in that courtroom, and I plan on delving into it deeper after watching this on-screen depiction. Sorkin created a showcase of talent, and apparently this two-hour drama has been in the works for a long time. I’ve heard that Baron Cohen had been vying for his role as Hoffman for the last decade. It’s a story that needs to be told, it’s incredibly infuriating and embarrassing to our justice system, and Sorkin delivers a gripping look at this slice of history. Langella is brilliant as Judge Hoffman, unabashedly biased and contemptuous of the men before him. His seething hate sits just under the skin, and when Bobby Seale doggedly demands his rights to representation and a fair trial, Hoffman comes undone. It’s an amazing performance, and he isn’t the only standout here; there are a lot of stellar actors giving their all.

Glen: Apparently, Sorkin wrote the screenplay way back in 2007, and Steven Spielberg was slated to direct, but after the 2007 Writers Guild strike, budget concerns led to Spielberg exiting the project. The film was also slated for a theatrical release earlier this year, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that, so Paramount Pictures sold the distribution rights to Netflix. There were certainly some compelling characters involved in the case. One of the defendants, David Dellinger, was a conscientious objector in World War II and held very principled antiwar views. He was definitely the more mature voice of reason among the defendants. Their lead counsel, William Kunstler, was a very colorful Civil Rights lawyer, and Mark Rylance is terrific in that role. He’s basically tasked with herding this mismatched group of cats through a legal minefield. I would have loved to see this on the big screen, but at least we got to see it sooner rather than later. It’s a very compelling slice of history.

Anna: While steady and measured, Hayden may seem like the obvious of the seven to take the stand, but after audio of the riot puts him in a guiltier light, they decide Hoffman will instead be questioned. In a beautiful performance by Baron Cohen, Hoffman is calm but frank, citing that if Lincoln had given his inaugural speech in Lincoln Park in the year of the riots, he too would have found himself in a courtroom for the very same reason and that they are in fact on trial for their ideas, not actions. It was a pretty arresting moment in the film, as was the final scene. Sorkin has an obvious knack for courtroom drama and The Trial of the Chicago Seven delivers another meaty and emotional punch. Definitely catch this one on Netflix, and make sure you have time to delve in without distraction; this story deserves our full attention. 

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










Weekly Poll
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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