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


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 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.

Comments

  1. Marshall sounds really interesting, especially since Thurgood Marshall is a hero of mine. I'll have to look it up.

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    1. I hope you watch it. It's one of the best movies of the cinematic year 2017, and that's saying something in a year with so many lackluster productions.

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  2. I saw a preview for The Glass Castle and couldn't tell if it was going to be good. It looked like it could go either way. I'm glad to hear it was good!

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  3. I have added two movies to my queue. If you liked The Glass Castle at all and haven't read the book, I recommend it. The movie did a wonderful job of capturing the book for film but there is so much more in the written story. It will still make your blood boil from time to time but also give you so much insight into Jeanette.

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    1. I'll keep that in mind to read it at some point. Thanks.

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  4. Oh nice write up. I want to see Marshall -- I like Boseman. Did you find it on Netflix? We did see American Made and found it an entertaining action flick & funny too. Crazy life & story. Brie Larson did well with Glass Castle -- not an easy movie to capture but they did a better job of it than I thought they would. The book will make your blood boil more I think -- but it's remarkable for Jeannette and her writing, wow. That's a heck of a memoir.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. Marshall is out for rent. Not on Netflix yet, I think. You can find it on Google Play, Apple store, Redbox (maybe), etc. I enjoyed Boseman's performance a great deal; he is one to watch. I'm eagerly awaiting Black Panther; he is in the leading role as the king of the Wakandans. I hear it's phenomenal, at least I hope so. I agree that American Made was funny and entertaining. I guess Jeannette's memoir treads a fine line between honoring her family while at the same time not making apologies for them. Like you said, it is a hard thing to pull off on film, but they did it successfully.

      Brie Larson was very good in it. I wasn't crazy about Room, at least not as much as most people seemed to be, but The Glass Castle allowed her personality to shine and that came across very well on screen.

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  5. I've seen American Made and thought it was thoroughly entertaining. I've not heard of the other two so will keep my eyes open for them.
    Lynn :D

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    1. Yes, Lynn, American Made delivered a fun fest. I recommend you the other two. These are among the best productions last year.

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