Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to watch over the weekend including the nature documentary series “Tiny World” on Apple TV+, the Aaron Sorkin written and directed drama “The Trail of the Chicago 7,” and Rihanna’s music and fashion hybrid “Savage “X” Fenty Show Vol. 2″ on Amazon Prime Video.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the timely period piece “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “On the Rocks,” the re-teaming of Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola, the cerebral sci fi of “Possessor Uncut” and the unusual Gloria Steinem biopic “The Glorias.”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” now playing in theatres, sees Aaron Sorkin return to the courtroom twenty-eight years after he put the words “You can’t handle the truth,” into Jack Nicholson’s mouth. This time around he’s re-enacting one of the most famous trials of the 1960s, using transcripts from the actual proceedings as a basis for the script. There is no one moment as powerful of Nicholson’s “truth” declaration but there is no denying the timeliness of the film’s fifty-two-year-old story.
Here’s the basic story for anyone too young to know the difference between Yippies and Yuppies.
The trial, which was originally the Chicago Eight until Black Panther leader Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) had his case severed from the others, saw 60s counterculture icons Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) of the Youth International Party (the aforementioned Yippies), and assorted radicals David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), John Froines (Daniel Flaherty), and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins) charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot stemming from their actions at the anti-Vietnam War protests in Chicago, Illinois, during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Behind the prosecution desk is the young and meticulous Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) acting as assistant to the truculent chief prosecutor Tom Foran (J. C. MacKenzie). On the defense is lawyer William Kunstler (Mark Rylance), a boldfaced name in civil rights litigation. On the bench is Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), a conservative judge who once presided over an obscenity case against Lenny Bruce.
Those are the players and to a person they deliver solid performances, making the most of Sorkin’s snappy, rapid-fire dialogue. Of the ensemble cast Baron Cohen stands out, handing in a straight dramatic role; there’s no Mankini in sight. He’s too old by half to play the character who once famously urged kids to, “Never trust anyone over thirty,” but maintains the edge that make his comedic characters so memorable.
Sorkin, who also directs, has made a period piece that reverberates for today. A bridge that spans the five decades from the actual events, it’s a bit of history that comments on contemporary hot button topics like protest, civil rights and police brutality. The sight of Seale, the lone African American defendant, bound and gagged at the judge’s order, is a potent reminder of racial injustice in the penal system. Re-enactments of police brutality during the riots and the consequent discussion of who is to blame for the violence, the protestors or the bill club swinging cops could be ripped from today’s headlines.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” isn’t perfect. Gordon-Levitt’s character is a cypher, a prosecutor who breaks with his colleagues at a crucial moment and Hoffman is played as a pantomime villain, but as a reminder of how history is repeated, it is a compelling watch.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch this weekend, including the experimental documentary “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” the forlorn romance “Dirt Music” and the quirky Jenny Slate comedy “The Sunlit Night.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the tonic for the soul travelogue “From the Vine,” the quirky comedy “The Sunlit Night,” the journalism thriller “Target Number One” and the hybrid documentary “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets.”
“The Sunlit Night,” a new Jenny Slate comedy now on VOD, feels like a throwback to the oddball indie films of recent decades. No detail is too twee, no setting too obscure. The viewer is reminded of a flood of titles like “Everything Is Illuminated” and “Amelie” come to mind, movies where the quirk factor is set to the max.
Jenny Slate plays Frances, a young woman following in the footsteps of her parents. All three are frustrated artists. “Maybe I’m not an artist,” she says. “Maybe I’m just the daughter of two other artists.” After one spectacularly bad day that sees her break up with her rich boyfriend, get critically savaged by her art professors, find out her lawyer sister is engaged and her parents (David Paymer and Jessica Hecht) are splitting up. As if that wasn’t enough, she gets denied an apprenticeship in Tokyo. Rather than live with her father in his tiny studio she accepts another, less than desirable offer—“He fired his last assistant and now he needs someone to paint a barn, using only the colour yellow.”—with reclusive artist Nils (Fridtjov Såheim) in the far, far north of Norway. “This is where you go when you are exiled,” she says.
Her new life in Lofoten takes some getting used to. She is a fish out of water, the sun never sets, small goats invade her trailer, and the job is a slog, essentially a large paint by numbers project that leaves her little or no time to work on her own paintings. Still, she finds time to explore the nearby Viking Museum run by ex-pat American (Zach Galifianakis) and, despite telling her mother that she is “closed for business, a potential love interest in Yasha (Alex Sharp), a Brooklyn baker who has travelled to the top of the world to give his late father, and not just the ashes, but the whole corpse, a traditional Viking funeral.
“The Sunlit Night” has something offer after a radical rethink following brutal reviews at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It’s still a bit sloppy and a little too whimsically weird for its own sake, but Slate and a fun cameo from Gillian Anderson as Yasha’s mother do much of the heavy lifting. Most of the other characters seem to exist simply to add flavour to Frances’ rather colourless journey to find herself.
No amount of re-editing could get “The Sunlit Night” past the basic premise of outsiders navigating the strange Arctic Circle surroundings, but Slate brings charm to a story that otherwise may have been devoid of any realistic or interesting human behaviour.