Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Frank Langella, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Jeremy Strong, Alex Sharp, Noah Robbins, Danny Flaherty, Ben Shenkman, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, John Doman, J.C. Mackenzie
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Directed by: Aaron Sorkin
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some violence, bloody images and drug use
Running Time: 129
Date: 10/16/2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Straight Outta Hoffman

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Aaron Sorkin's long, complex re-telling of the trial following the events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention (also depicted in Brett Morgen's documentary Chicago 10) is a surprisingly well-oiled machine. It moves slickly — and is even funny — as Sorkin's trademark machine-gun dialogue sings and dances us through the details. Sorkin may have changed some facts here and there, but it works like gangbusters as a dramatic movie. The gist is that newly-empowered Republicans want to make an example out of a group of peaceful, liberal protestors, and conjure up a huge trial based on ridiculous "crimes." Sacha Baron Cohen steals the show as the headline-grabber Abbie Hoffman, but the entire cast is excellent, riding high on Sorkin's screenplay and brisk direction (much sharper than his directorial debut Molly's Game). Frank Langella is especially strong as the sinister, malevolent Judge Julius Hoffman, while the treatment of Black Panther member Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is just as shocking as ever.

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