Posts Tagged ‘josh gad’

Marshall

At the beginning of his legendary legal career, Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) worked as a lawyer for the NAACP, and took high profile cases to illustrate the organization’s continuing fight against racism. In 1940, Walter White, (Roger Guenveur Smith) Executive Secretary of the NAACP suggests a case where African American chauffer Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown) is being accused of rape by his employer, wealthy Connecticut socialite, Eleanor Strubling. (Kate Hudson)  The defense is hamstrung almost immediately because Marshall is forced by Judge Foster (James Cromwell) to act as co-council with Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) because Marshall didn’t have a law license in Connecticut.  Spell proclaims that he never touched Eleanor, but his story has as many inconsistencies as hers does.  So who is telling the truth?

The most important decision the writers make is concentrate the story on one case argued by Marshall that focusses the viewer’s attention on both Marshall’s legal strategy, and the perniciousness of racism, even in the North.  Another important aspect that this movie illustrates is the economic consequences of a rape accusation.  Many black servants who had no connection to Joseph Spell, were fired because of the fear that this case created.  The only downside of the script is that it tends to subjugate co-council Friedman to emphasize Marshall’s genius, the writers didn’t have to do that, they were both able lawyers and should have been shown that way.  The story is a compelling one, and the script stays mostly true to the facts.

The acting is only so-so, and for this the casting is to blame.  Chadwick Boseman is great.  He plays the role with intensity, urgency, and gravitas.  He is building a nice career for himself.  Josh Gad is more a comedic actor in musicals like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, and the way the role is written Friedman is treated like comedy relief, like Thurgood Marshal and Sam Friedman are in a buddy movie. Try as he might Gad can’t quite pull off the more serious aspects of the role.  Kate Hudson also goes through the motions as a snooty, upper class, society woman of means, but it feels so perfunctory, there’s no emotion in her performance, and so it’s hard to feel anything for her.  Sterling K. Brown, best known for his role in This is Us, lays on the poor black southern voice a little too thick, to the point of self-parody, it was not a good performance.

Reginald Hudlin was the director, he broke through in Hollywood shortly after Spike Lee, but there’s nothing visually notable about his direction here, he does keep the pacing going, and gets at least one strong performance from Chadwick Boseman, so it’s a better than average job of directing.  If he oversaw the casting, some of the blame for the miscasting falls on him as well.

Marshall:  Not just good, Thurgood.

 

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beauty and the beast live

A headstrong, well-read French village girl named Belle (Emma Watson) is tired of life in her small village and can’t help but think that life has more to offer than her small town gives her.  She is relentlessly pursued by town hunk and resident harasser, Gaston, (Luke Evans) who she cleverly avoids. Belle is very close to her father, Maurice, (Kevin Kline) who raised her after Belle’s mom passed away.  When she visits Maurice, Belle asks her dad for a rose, and he promises to get her one. On a snowy night, Maurice loses his way and gets captured by a Beast (Dan Stevens) who has been cursed  by an Enchantress (Hattie Morahan) for his superficiality.  Belle hears that his father has been captured and rides off to save him.  She switches places with Maurice, and traps herself with the Beast.

Gaston sees an opportunity to be the hero, and rides off to save Belle with Maurice.  But Maurice refuses to let him marry Belle, and Gaston accuses Maurice of being crazy and wants to send him to an asylum.  In the castle, Belle and the Beast are becoming closer.  Lumiere, (Ewan McGregor) the candelabra Cogsworth ( Ian McKellan) the clock, Mrs. Potts, the teapot, and Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald) the wardrobe, are doing all they can to make the mood as romantic as possible.  They hope Bellle professes her love for the beast, because that will break the Enchantress’ spell on them too.  Things are going swimmingly until Belle checks on her father in a magic mirror, and sees that he is being taken away.  What does she do?  What happens to the Beast and his enchanted staff?

I was disappointed by Beauty and The Beast.  How could I not like a delightful movie such as this, you ask?  Easy, it was too much like its animated namesake, the live action movie followed the story of the animated movie, line for line shot for shot and scene for scene.  When Disney made a live action Jungle Book movie, they created a whole new story that was in every way better than the animated film.  That made me want to watch The Jungle Book, because I didn’t know what was coming with the next scene.  Since I had seen the animated Beauty before, not only did I know the scenes, I knew the songs, I knew the ending, I knew everything.  The few jokes that were added  for Josh Gad’s character weren’t that funny, and didn’t add much to the film.  Why is almost every actor speaking in a British accent, if the film is set in France?  Why does the Beast have blue eyes, is that important? The writers could have done a flashback and embellished the Beast’s character before the curse, and what made him such a superficial person, in the first place something to make it distinctive, anything.

The acting was good.  Emma Watson does the best she can with quite a limiting role, she is supposed to be an independent woman, headstrong, yet falling in love with a cursed Prince.  There is an inherent  contradiction in the role, but Watson is pleasant enough, and sings well enough to make Belle somewhat interesting.  Dan Stevens is pretty dull as the Beast, he doesn’t really bring much to the role.  Kevin Kline plays his role as comedy relief. Luke Evans is actually very good as Gaston, funny and evil at the same time, he put some real life into his role.  Of the Best’s household staff, only Ewan McGregor s Lumiere stands out, he infuses the role with humor and joy and a little sadness, he is truly a great actor.  Audra McDonald has a great operatic voice, I wish they gave her more songs to sing.

The direction is a mixed bag.  The visuals on some of the exteriors are visually appealing.  One of the opening scenes reminded  me very much of The Sound of Music, it was unintentionally humorous.  While the visuals were intriguing, the pacing is extremely slow, two hours seemed  more like four, and the performances were somewhat mixed.  The songs were great, just like the animated film,  but the CGI was overdone.

Beauty and The Beast:  It didn’t ring my Belle.