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Archive for the ‘Greg Kinnear’ Category

Brian Banks

21 Jan

Brian Banks — directed by Tom Shadyac. Courtroom Docudrama. 99 minutes Color 2019.

Hitchcock founded his career on stories of the wrongfully accused, and this film gives us the suspense and emotional catharsis of the form.

It also resembles this year’s Just Mercy because it parallels the work of the Alabama Innocence Project with the office of the California Innocence Project in freeing the guiltless. In most cases the prisoners are still in prison and on death row. But in Banks case, he was convicted when 16, served five years, was freed, and, adding pressure to the tale, Banks was already running out of time to prove his innocence before the deadline of his parole ran out.

Aldis Hodge plays Brian Banks, and he looks as young as 16 when he is shown to be 16, and as old at 27 when he is shown to be that. His has the physique to be a football player, the physical power to convince us he would have played in the NFL, and the courage to act the part to its full measure. He is well cast.

Greg Kinnear plays Justin Brooks, the lawyer heading up the California Innocence Project, as Michael B Jordan played Bryan Stevenson of the Alabama Innocence Project in Just Mercy, where Jaimie Foxx played the black man convicted — but the stories vary widely in their details, their characters, their flavor and their telling. For Brian Banks is told in a good old-fashioned, classical manner that carries us along on a ride through the interesting scenery of the legal horror story of the case, on a journey thrilling and fresh, although we have all taken it before.

Xosha Roquemore dazzles the story to a standstill with her playing of the young woman who lied Brian Banks into prison. Melanie Liburd is lovely fun as the young lady who fosters him when on parole. Dorian Missick is completely sympathetic and understandable as the parole officer who must abide by the rules. Sherri Shepherd as Banks’ mom aces her cinching speech. Morgan Freeman, ever-the sage-mentor, produces in us our customary but still welcome and fresh satisfaction with him.

But the performance that carries the balance of the tale is performed by Greg Kinnear as the head of CIP. As an actor he is able to be resolved in the smart decision to decline his help to Banks, and because of the honest way he plays this smart and dedicated man you have to agree with him, so that you never know whether Banks innocence will ever be established by the one lawyer able to do it. Pay attention to how the actor presents invisibly but clearly a resistance ever silent. The entire suspense of the story lies with this factor in this actor’s hands, hands he never tips, and he does not betray us. He’s just a man with a cause, close to but parallel with Banks’ cause.

I liked him and the picture a lot. Unlike with Just Mercy, the racial question of this picture hides itself in the inability of many black folks to receive legal justice because they can’t afford it. That wrong is still prominent and should be restored, so that the Innocence Project of various states can in honor retire.

Brian Banks is one of a fresh flowering of recent dramas skillfully engrossing us with how much black lives matter.

I want to see them all. I invite you watch with me.

 

What Planet Are You From?

25 Sep

What Planet Are You From – Directed by Mike Nichols. Penis Comedy. An Alien is sent down to take over Earth by impregnating a woman. 105 minutes Color  2000.

* * *

All the women in this picture are dressed badly, all the men are dressed so beautifully it is as though Fred Astaire had haberdashed them. Why is that? I can understand frump in Annette Bening’s case because her character’s a dither-head. But why would the sensationally sexy Linda Fiorentino stalk into her husband’s bank office in a see-thru skirt is baffling.

Anyhow, it probably fits with the monstrously minute mental elegance of Garry Shandling who wrote this one low joke comedy. Strange that no mature comedy is available for grown-ups, when Irene Dunne and Cary Grant were middle aged when they made their great ones.

Sir Ben Kingsley is present intoning orders from on high, meaning A Star Up There. While it is true that those gifts from the Gods, Camryn Manheim and Richard Jenkins, momentarily beguile us, this does not compensate for the presence before us of Shandling himself looking like a doomed sheep. What are his eyes always appealing for? What is that? Why does anyone find him funny? I mean funny in the sense of amusing, not in the sense of peculiar, which he certainly is.

This leaves us with the sleazy charms of Greg Kinnear, who is a master of them, and wins one’s heart with his vileness and his beautiful suits.

And with the great, the indissoluble, the loveable, the gifted, the sweet, the sexy, the imaginative, the tribute to American womanhood, and marvelous character leading actress, Dame Annette Bening, she who holds the Columbia torch!

One star for Annette Bening, one for Greg Kinnear, and one for John Goodman, who races around magnificently in chase of the answer to it all.

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