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Monday, 13 December 2021 13:54

‘Being the Ricardos’ loves Lucy

There are two kinds of biopics – you’ve got your cradle-to-grave and you’ve got your slice of life. Both have their merits, though if pressed, I’d probably cop to preferring the latter. Rather than trying to lay out a whole life story, we get a chance to get to know the person or persons in question more specifically during a moment in time.

“Being the Ricardos” – the latest from writer/director Aaron Sorkin – is an example of that latter type of biopic, revolving primarily around a single tumultuous week in the lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and the people around them. We see other moments as well, all of it framed (rather ingeniously, honestly) through a documentary-style device, but for the most part, it’s this one week that is the focus.

Starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucy and Desi, respectively, the film gives us a look inside their lives, both personally and professionally. We see them at home and on set, in the past and in the present (along with some looks back from the future). It is clever and touching, a well-made film that offers a degree of insight into what it meant to be these people at this time in their lives.

And it’s pretty great.

Now, if you’re here in the deluded hope that the madcap physical energy of Lucille Ball is going to be recreated here, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. But that’s not the point of the movie, nor would it be fair to ask any performer to try and replicate Lucy’s unique gifts. Instead, we get to see her as the power player and perfectionist that she was behind the scenes, someone who used her obvious talents to get to a place where she could take advantage of her subtler ones.

Published in Style

As someone who is fascinated by both mid-20th century American history and the work of Aaron Sorkin, you can imagine my excitement upon learning that those two fascinations were being brought together by the folks at Netflix. It’s relatively rare that a film comes along that is so squarely in the center of a Venn diagram formed by such generally incongruous interests, so rest assured – I was pumped.

Happily, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” – written and directed by Sorkin – largely lived up to my admittedly lofty expectations. It tells the story of a tumultuous time in American history through a specific event – the trial of a group of counterculture figures indicted for conspiracy to allegedly incite violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a trial that has come to be viewed by history as a travesty of justice, an effort to make an example of those who would protest the actions of their government.

It also features an absolutely stellar cast, an ensemble running deep with top-tier talent. It’s an opportunity for Sorkin to flash his own particular brand of progressive politics, all while utilizing every trick and trope in his bag to construct a compelling story. As he often does when venturing into the real world, Sorkin takes some liberties with the facts, but for the most part, the larger picture remains connected to the larger truth.

Published in Movies

There’s something polarizing about the work of Aaron Sorkin. His writing can come off as a bit overly effusive and self-congratulatory – in a word, show-offy. His trademark “walk and talk” – which rose to prominence in his time on “The West Wing” and became even more overwhelming in subsequent projects like “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “The Newsroom” – can be engaging as hell, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

But as prolific as he has been as a writer, both on television and in the movies, he had never before sat in the director’s chair before taking on “Molly’s Game.” The film – adapted from Molly Bloom’s book of the same name by Sorkin himself – tells the story of a woman’s rise to prominence and fall from grace as her facilitation of exclusive private high-stakes poker games leads first to wealth and then to her arrest and subsequent court battle with the U.S. government.

Published in Movies

ELLSWORTH The Grand continues its fine tradition of live community theater with its new production of an exciting play from Aaron Sorkin: 'The Farnsworth Invention.' The play runs for just one weekend, June 3rd through June 5, 2016. Tickets are on sale now at the box office, by phone, or online at grandonline.org. Ticket prices for reserved seating are $18 for adults, $15 for Grand members and $12 for students (15 and under).

Published in Happenings

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