Snapshots - #35: Marshall, American Made, The Glass Castle

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The movies…
Marshall (♦♦♦♦): Black lawyer Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) is entrusted by the NCAAP to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) in Greenwich, CT, who has been accused of rape by his white employer. As Marshall is not allowed by the judge as legal counsel because he doesn't hold a CT license, he engages, reluctantly on both sides, the service of Jewish insurance lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), whom, with Marshall's help, will have to acquire criminal defense experience in a matter of months. But as the case is tried in court, it becomes evident that it is anything but cut and dry. Powerfully acted by Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, and Sterling K. Brown in the leading roles, Marshall treads a fine line between inspiring legal thriller and drama. On both counts it delivers in spades. Based on a true story, with race and bigotry fueling public opinion, before the apogee of the Civil Rights Movement, this accused black man is doomed from the start. A full century…

Kolya (Kolja), Czech (♦♦♦♦)

Fifty-five year old Franta Louka plays the cello at funerals to make ends meet. A gravedigger friend tells Louka of a Russian lady who is willing to pay a large sum of money to marry off her young niece so she can obtain Czech papers. The wedding takes place, but the bride illegally migrates to West Germany without telling Louka, leaving her five year-old son behind. The child, Kolya, ends up being cared by Louka, a lifelong bachelor with no experience in how to care for a child. The story takes place against the backdrop of socialist Czechoslovakia right before the fall of communism.

This movie is not meant to be funny; the humor is very subtle but it makes you laugh out loud nonetheless. The child is so cute, and his plight so believable that it’s hard not to feel sorry for him. I found so funny that Kolya learned how to draw coffins, because that’s what he got to see all the time while Louka worked, and the child started drawing other things as soon as he was exposed to different experiences. This film won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award to the Best Foreign Language Film in 1997. Well deserved, I say!

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