Monday, March 21, 2005

runaway jury

make-a-movie-by-numbers & not a hint of innovation in this one. still, i find grisham movies fun, if only because he loves portraying ordinary folks as hard-working out-thinkers of enormous organisations. & there is such networking, montage-driven narrative verve in the out-thinking. i have seen 'the firm' that many times & it remains a gorgeously high-strung winner of a film, every intelligent storyline string tying towards a climax that is pleasurable less in the guttural action-movie sense of drive that knife/gun into the embodiment of wrong & more like i cannot believe how beautifully & perfectly this plan has been synchronised. sydney pollack is virtuosic in the way he makes 'the firm' work - recruiting tom cruise for starters; that master of the short & aspiring & young & courteous bourgeois performance (i maintain in my spare time that there are aspects of kubrick's 'eyes wide shut' undoubtedly & oddly influenced by 'the firm' - 'eyes wide shut' seemingly concerning itself with revealing the cliche that is cruise's typical big-screen hero, the intelligent & dapper professional - or, you might say, 'eyes wide shut' is about what the quintessential cruise character imagines at night). pollack also does perfectly to realise you need nought beside solid performances & some zippy editing to make a grisham movie work - extraneous artistic demands need not impinge - listen to 'the firm's' minimalistic but driven piano score for confirmation. it's a simple sonic consistent. perhaps it's too much to suggest that kubrick's decision to use ligeti's aggressively minimalistic 'musica ricercata' as eyes wide shut's primary musical motif was influenced, again, by 'the firm'? is that enough kubrick references for one entry?

so, to runaway jury. it's a far less forgiving yarn to convert to film than 'the firm' - there's a multitude of primary and secondary characters; casting must have been a nightmare, i.e. whether to go with big-names in the roles of the lead defence & prosecution attorneys, since the film is not really about the court-case as it is about the moral plight of the surrounding characters. further, the film depends for the most part on things that aren't dramatically exciting, or are somewhat flimsy - e.g. gene hackman's jury surveillance team, his own all-seeing 'expertise', a clairvoyancy that seems horrendously cliched. & how rare for hollywood to even want to attempt the underlying premise, that of a leftist anti-gun couple attempting to sabotage the legal system. at least it seems odd until you realise the film was released on the brink of 'bowling for columbine' mania. inevitably, big names feature - hoffman, hackman as a less-than-convincing villain (i'm not sure about hackman-as-villain, to be honest), cusack as a less bourgeois but funnier & more intelligent cruise.

'the firm' is better.


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