Saturday, July 28, 2007


Earlier this week,* I mentioned my inability to catch ...And Justice for All (1979)* after Monday's initiation of my unexpectedly complex immunization protocol.* Have no fear. In a pitched effort to get out from under Sunshine's authorial footwork, I tried again yesterday with more success. Norman Jewison's well-textured and multifaceted examination of the US legal system makes good use of real public buildings and intermittently realistic courtroom activity to advance the suspension of my disbelief before ultimately betraying it in the final reel. Arthur (Al Pacino) is a passionate, hot-tempered Baltimore defense attorney temporarily jailed after taking a swing at a judge. The focus of his ire is Henry Fleming (John Forsythe), who's so adherent to the law's very letter that he is willing to let a known innocent rot under a wrongful five-year sentence rather than admit exonerating evidence offered a few days after deadline. These guys hate one another. But when the judge is accused of rape, he must bully Arthur into representing him. Hey, Arthur's the best lawyer in town. This is the central narrative of a movie unafraid to take ultimately throwaway side trips, with dozens of tangential characters, merely to probe the endless potential of its courtroom material--a whole season of primetime television in two very special hours. This method often pleases me: evoking a nuanced and baroque environment of professional activity instead of streamlining a narrowly focused narrative point-of-view. At its best, ...And Justice for All achieves a voyeuristic, documentary inclusiveness quite contrasting the tics and fits of its melodramatic emotional center. But the filmmakers cannot seem to help occasionally risible banalities: children cutely intone the pledge of allegiance over a montage of empty courtrooms in an intro begging for TV, or that show stopping ethical self-defeat in the implausible climax. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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