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The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7: The latest from Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game, and the screenwriter for Steve Jobs and The Social Network) concerns the trial brought by the federal government against 7 (initially 8) defendants on charges of conspiracy (among others) during the 1968 riots at the Democratic National Convention. These included well-known names like Tom Hadyn (played by Eddie Redmayne) and Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen). The movie is very entertaining. I like the way the story is told, mixing courtroom drama and flashbacks that piece together the story of how these seven people ended up in jail together that night. The screenplay is very well written. Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne both are great; I did not expect such a strong performance from Cohen. But my favorite performance is by Frank Langella, who plays the utterly despicable judge who had clearly decided the outcome before the trial even began. He commands much of the attention in the courtroom scenes. There is one scene in which he exercises his own law over one of the defendants that is just stunning. You almost can’t believe it is true, but it turns out it is. The film gets a big thumbs up from me. It is entertaining and feels very contemporary at the same time. (2020; 4 Stars)

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