Showing posts with label liberal lawyers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label liberal lawyers. Show all posts

Friday, October 14, 2011

First Let’s Kill All The Lawyers-Not- Part Two- George Clooney’ “Michael Clayton”-A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the film Michael Clayton.

DVD Review

Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney, Sidney Pollack, Tilda Swinton, Warner Brothers, 2007

Everybody, everybody probably ever since if not earlier that Richard III in Shakespeares’ play, I think, uttered the notion that lawyers should be done away with first to cleanse the kingdom of evil spirits has hated lawyers. Well every lawyer except your own lawyer, of course. Not the one who got you out of that DUI jam that time you had a little too much, or out from under that drug bust where you were just sitting in that living room, nothing more. Maybe, moving up the chain, when that nasty accident happened and you bailed out with some friendly legal help. And even further up the chain when you, big-time impersonal corporation you, got out from under that very nasty and costly class-action suit stemming from the very real hazardous (cancerous chemical) to somebody, many somebodys, health that you injured, grievously. And the difference between the low-end save your ass from jail example and the high-end keep your company solvent? Well the fixer man, of course. The fixer lawyer man here at the high end which drives this story line. You under no circumstances, no circumstances at all, want to tick off ( I am being nice here) the fixer man. And especially not a very vengeful and a street smart Michael Clayton, as played by hard-guy George Clooney. Wrong, always wrong.

Up in the rarefied air of the legal counsel's office of a large corporation (U-North) they (or rather she, Karen Crowder, played by Tilda Swinton) didn’t get that little nugget of wisdom straight (she must have missed that class in law school) and well, frankly, panicked once it became clear that the ace litigator of the company had gone off the deep-end and was ready to “spill the beans” in favor of the other side-the plaintiffs. Michael Clayton, brought in for just such “fixing,” got his hind legs up in the air when his services were not appreciated (and said ace litigator got killed). But here is where it all breaks down. See a fixer man is just that, he fixes things. He gets mucho dough for doing these kinds of things. He can be “bought off,” or neutralized. But not when you panic and try to kill him. Not Michael Clayton, hell, not a guy or gal two days out of law school. So let this be a cautionary tale. Please.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

* On Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project- A Guest Commentary

Click on the headline to link to a commentary by Professor David Cole (who worked on the case) on the recent ugly free speech (or rather anti-free speech) decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project by the U.S. Supreme Court. Watch your back, fellow leftists.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alabama, God Damn- Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mocking Bird"

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mocking Bird" as background for this entry.


To Kill a Mocking Bird, Gregory Peck, black and white, 1962

This film is an excellent black and white adaptation of Harper Lee’s book of the same name. The acting, particularly by Gregory Peck (and a cameo by a young Robert Duval), brings out all the pathos, bathos and grit of small town Southern life in the 1930’s. The story itself is an unusual combination, narrated by Peck’s film daughter Scout (and presumably Lee herself), of a coming of age story that we are fairly familiar with and the question of race and sex in the Deep South (and not only there) with which we were (at the time of the film’s debut in 1962) only vaguely familiar. That dramatic tension, muted as it was by the cinematic and social conventions of the time, nevertheless made a strong statement about the underlying tensions of this society at a time when the Southern black civil rights struggle movement was coming into focus in the national consciousness.

The name Atticus Finch (Peck’s role) as the liberal (for that southern locale) lawyer committed to the rule of law had a certain currency in the 1960’s as a symbol for those southern whites who saw that Jim Crow had to go. Here Finch is the appointed lawyer for a black man accused of raping a white women of low origin- the classic ‘white trash’ depicted in many a film and novel. Finch earnestly, no, passionately in his understated manner, attempts to defend this man, a brave act in itself under the circumstances.

Needless to say an all white jury of that black man’s ‘peers’ nevertheless convicts him out of hand. In the end the black man tries to escape and is killed in the process. In an earlier scenario Finch is pressed into guard duty at the jailhouse in order to head off a posse of ‘white trash’ elements who are bend on doing ‘justice’ their way- hanging him from a lynching tree. On a mere false accusation of a white woman this black man is doomed whichever way he turns. Sound familiar?

The other part of the story concerns the reactions by Finch’s motherless son and tomboyish daughter to the realities of social life, Southern style. That part is in some ways, particularly when the children watch the trial from the “Negro” balcony section of the courtroom, the least successful of the film. What is entirely believable and gives some relief from the travesty that is unfolding are the pranks, pitfalls and antics of the kids. The tensions between brother and sister, the protective role of the older brother, the attempt by the sister to assert her own identity, the sense of adventure and mystery of what lies beyond the immediate household that is the hallmark of youth all get a work out here. But in the end it is the quiet dignity of solid old Atticus and the bewildered dignity of a doomed black man that hold this whole thing together. Bravo Peck. Kudos to Harper Lee.