“Pride” and “The Judge” – a double film review by Gary Chew
Movies studios are now throwing us almost everything they’ve got in the way of releases. I can’t keep up with them all, so I’m putting two new pictures together in one review. I’ve also got another full review up on this website today, for “Kill The Messenger.” The Gary Webb biopic is available at two web sites and on one podcast.
All three films open Friday, October 10th.
“Pride” is one of the most left-wing movies I’ve seen in a while. There aren’t many of those. This Brit film is based on politics of the mid 80s with members of the British gay community supporting coal miners in South Wales who’ve been long on strike and under the Conservative thumb of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
What with the same sex marriage issue swirling currently and the recent ruling of the US Supreme Court to not hear cases coming out of lower Federal courts on the matter, “Pride” comes to America at what might be a propitious moment.
“Pride” gives an account of how a theatrically inclined gay and lesbian group based in London led the support of miners and their families during the longest strike in British history. Homophobia was quite common then; it was “OK” to hate homosexuals. Gays empathized with miners since Maggie and the government were treating them much like gays and lesbians had always been treated by much of the public.
There’s a grand cast that includes Bill Nighy as a Welsh labor leader. He’s backed by an assortment of other fine English actors you will remember. They pack loads of positive feelings and good humor into helping their struggling neighbors up against big business and the Thatcher Administration.
Some of the fun comes from the fact that many of the miners are rather put off by gays and lesbians giving them a helping hand. But they learn to get along. If you’re not a kindred spirit of Labor or what many call Liberals or Progressives, you may want to steer clear. “Pride” is all about solidarity and that word — for some — has a connotation held in much less esteem than “gay” or “lesbian” are.
If I were to give out stars, “Pride” would get four.
The second feature is all American … set in Indiana, but shot in Massachusetts with Robert Downey, Jr. as a smart ass young, high-dollar lawyer in Chicago who goes home for his mother’s funeral. While there, his father, played by Robert Duvall, is swallowed up in big trouble with running over a former local felon whom the judge had sentenced to prison earlier. The victim is killed by the judge’s vintage Cadillac, and it looks as though the incident was brought off with premeditation.
The story stretches a good deal to get all that believably under way, but slips into a smooth run as an absorbing, funny drama heaped with spirited acting from both Roberts as well as Vera Farmiga as the still-at-home gal friend of the cocky attorney. Billy Bob Thornton is the creepy opposing attorney who works against the judge and the cocky son defending his old-fashioned, small town, cranky Dad. But it’s Vincent D’Onofrio in a secondary role as the family’s older brother who gets my nod for the best turn in “The Judge.” Jeremy Strong plays family’s youngest brother who’s a bit mentally challenged.
Super cool and touching music spills across the verdant locale of this film … all of it composed by my favorite film score guy, Thomas Newman.
Three to four stars for “The Judge” would also get it.
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