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 after the Emancipation Declaration, his fate, as most of his race's, is practically sealed by a legal system that denies justice to people of color. However, as the case unfolds and uncomfortable truths come to light, it becomes less apparent what direction the verdict may take. Can the jurors set aside their prejudices to let the truth prevail however uncomfortable it may be? I guess you must see the movie to find out.
American Made (♦♦♦♦): In 1978, TWA pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is recruited by the CIA, is given a front aviation company to head, and a posh private jet to pilot with the purpose of making covert trips to Central and South America to take aerial photographs of the training camps set up by the leftist guerrilla insurgency that has overtaken the continent. Initially it's just photographs, but eventually Seal is approached by a nascent drug cartel to use his plane and covert aerial routes to transport drugs to the US.
The plot is actually more intricate than my summary suggests, but don't let that prevent you from watching this film, or taking it too seriously. Based on a true story, American Made is a mockumentary of the life of Barry Seal during the years he worked as a "covert agent". It is highly entertaining and funny, and there is never a lull in the action. Tom Cruise is at the top of his game and it shows. He has impeccable comedic timing, and one can't wait to see what he does next.
In a year in which several of the most popular movies belonged to the horror genre, American Made is a breath of fresh air and top entertainment.
The Glass Castle (♦♦♦½): Four kids of the Walls family come of age amidst poverty and chronic rootlessness, meanwhile dreaming of settling down and building a “glass castle” in Virginia’s hillbilly country.
Child neglect, father alcoholism, betrayal of trust, broken promises, a transient lifestyle, homelessness, and poverty...Those are some of the issues addressed in The Glass Castle, an adaptation of Jeannette Walls' memoir of the same title. Despite those issues, the Walls family remained a loving, tight knit unit that learned to laugh about their good moments, while the kids learned valuable lessons on survival and forging their own life paths.
While The Glass Castle is not an easy watch—it made my blood boil throughout—, it is a movie worth watching, as much for the singularity of its topic as for the excellent performances delivered by the whole ensemble cast.