denial-deborah-nameplate

Film Review: Denial

Mick Jackson’s film Denial is more than a dramatization of an actual libel trial. It is a primer on English libel law and the process of building a case, accompanied by a reminder of how ineffective such things can be against closed minds. Star Rachel Weisz describes Denial as a film about “the insanity of trying to put fact on trial”¹. Jackson and David Hare, who wrote the script, keep their emphasis on the trial’s procedural aspects. Even if you already know the trial’s outcome, you[Read more]
judgment-at-nuremberg-the-judge-2

Film Appreciation: Judgment At Nuremberg

Sometimes it is hard to recreate the impact a film had when first released. Given all the subsequent films about the Holocaust, I think may be a tendency to downplay 1961’s Judgment At Nuremberg as a product of old Hollywood. It is considerably more than that. This film showed images from concentration camps at a time when very few people had seen them. William Shatner, who plays a supporting role in Judgment At Nuremberg, recalls vividly that director Stanley Kramer and screenwriter Abby Mann[Read more]
the-passion-of-joan-of-arc-hope-gone

Trial Tactics: List For Week Ending October 2, 2016

Our list this week contains films about trials and the legal maneuvers that come with them. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. Denial (2016) (Reviewed in Thinking Cinema 9/30/16)  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-denial/ Judgment At Nuremberg (1961) (Article in Thinking Cinema 9/30/16)  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-judgment-at-nuremberg/ Michael[Read more]
la-la-land-dancing

TIFF 2016- Sixteen Capsule Reviews

TIFF, Toronto, and The Folks At Milestones Still The Best! We thoroughly enjoyed our time at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. All in all, a fantastic time watching films, hanging out with great people, and enjoying wonderful food. On our first night, we went to have dinner at Milestones on 132 John Street. To our amazement, everyone there recognized us from prior years. Sam, the host, said, ”We were wondering if we’d see you this year.” Jamie B, who helped us with so many[Read more]
Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto

Thinking Cinema Goes To TIFF!

There will not be a newsletter for the next two weeks, as I will be in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival. When I return, I will write a special post which includes mini-reviews of all films seen. Look for it on September 23.

 

 

 

Classics are still being made

Film Review: Denial

Film Review: Denial

Mick Jackson’s film Denial is more than a dramatization of an actual libel trial. It is a primer on English libel law and the process of building a case, accompanied by a reminder of how ineffective such things can be against closed minds. Star Rachel Weisz describes Denial as a film about “the insanity of trying to put fact on trial”¹.

Jackson and David Hare, who wrote the script, keep their emphasis on the trial’s procedural aspects. Even if you already know the trial’s outcome, you will find yourself drawn into the process that led to it. It is also very likely that you will note similarities between this case and the current political climate.denial-interruption

The film opens in 1994, and Lipstadt (Ms. Weisz) teaches Jewish studies at Atlanta’s Emory University. David Irving (a creepy Timothy Spall), whom Lipstadt called a Holocaust denier in her recent book, interrupts the lecture. He offers a thousand dollars to anyone who can prove the Holocaust actually happened. Lipstadt throws him out of her class.

Two years pass, and Lipstadt receives a letter from England. Irving is suing her for libel, claiming she has ruined his career. Lipstadt decides to fight rather than settle out of court, little realizing how difficult this will be. Under English law, burden of proof rests with the defendant. Lipstadt and her team must prove the Holocaust actually happened.

Lipstadt visits Auschwitz with her barrister, Richard Rampling (Tom Wilkinson) and other members of her legal team. They search for evidence that might have been overlooked-a daunting task at best.denial-deborahs-legal-team

That is not the only complication. Irving chooses to represent himself at the trial. As a result, Lipstadt’s team will not allow witnesses from concentration camps and forbid Lipstadt to testify. For the outspoken Lipstadt, staying quiet is torture. She also has difficulty trusting Rampling and the others, even though she has no alternative.

The growing relationship between Lipstadt and Rampling (platonic, by the way) is critical to keeping the audience invested in this film. Denial pulls this off, thanks largely to a multi-dimensional portrait by Tom Wilkinson. That is not to diminish the performance by Rachel Weisz- I simply feel the script gave her fewer opportunities.denial-deborah

I thought one development in the third act misplaced, rather an obvious attempt to ramp up suspense. Overall, though, I found the narrative flowed well. That came as a welcome surprise, considering how much the film downplayed dramatic conventions in favor of legal procedure.

A word of warning about Denial: Seeing this film may lead to thinking.

Theme: Trial Tactics

Related Posts: Judgment At Nuremberg  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-judgment-at-nuremberg/

Trial Tactics: List For Week Ending October 2, 2016  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/trial-tactics-list-for-week-ending-october-2-2016/

¹http://time.com/4485573/rachel-weisz-denial-holocaust-movie-deborah-lipstadt/

Film Appreciation: Judgment At Nuremberg

Film Appreciation: Judgment At Nuremberg

Sometimes it is hard to recreate the impact a film had when first released. Given all the subsequent films about the Holocaust, I think may be a tendency to downplay 1961’s Judgment At Nuremberg as a product of old Hollywood. It is considerably more than that. This film showed images from concentration camps at aContinue Reading

Trial Tactics: List For Week Ending October 2, 2016

Trial Tactics: List For Week Ending October 2, 2016

Our list this week contains films about trials and the legal maneuvers that come with them. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. Denial (2016) (Reviewed in Thinking Cinema 9/30/16)  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-denial/ Judgment At Nuremberg (1961) (ArticleContinue Reading

TIFF 2016- Sixteen Capsule Reviews

TIFF 2016- Sixteen Capsule Reviews

TIFF, Toronto, and The Folks At Milestones Still The Best! We thoroughly enjoyed our time at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. All in all, a fantastic time watching films, hanging out with great people, and enjoying wonderful food. On our first night, we went to have dinner at Milestones on 132 John Street. ToContinue Reading

Thinking Cinema Goes To TIFF!

Thinking Cinema Goes To TIFF!

There will not be a newsletter for the next two weeks, as I will be in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival. When I return, I will write a special post which includes mini-reviews of all films seen. Look for it on September 23.      

Film Review: Complete Unknown

Film Review: Complete Unknown

Say you have an unusual gift. You can create new identities for yourself and embody them so completely that everyone is fooled. Further, you move from one persona to another without ramifications. One day you are a magician’s assistant in China, the next you are a lab employee in New York doing research on frogs.Continue Reading

Film Appreciation: The Great Imposter

Film Appreciation: The Great Imposter

CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS! The Great Imposter is more, and less, than its subject. Adapted from Robert Crichton’s 1959 book of the same name, the 1961 film recounts events from the life of con artist Ferdinand Waldo Demara. Tony Curtis stars, and the tone is much closer to a comedy than a drama. It even hasContinue Reading

Fake ID: List For Week Ending September 4, 2016

Fake ID: List For Week Ending September 4, 2016

Our films this week all have characters who impersonate someone. Some, like Demara in The Great Imposter and Alice in Complete Unknown, do this multiple times. For others, like Michael in Tootsie, it’s just once. Either way, they are the stuff of great cinema. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions areContinue Reading

Film Review: Morris From America

Film Review: Morris From America

Adolescence is a time where kids often feel different from their peers. In Morris From America, writer/ director Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner) deals with a protagonist who actually is different. Morris’ search for acceptance, and his father’s efforts to assist without enabling him, make for an authentic, touching film. Curtis Gentry (Craig Robinson)Continue Reading