Film Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The interesting thing about The Lincoln Lawyer is that it never gives us an inspirational courtroom speech about truth or fairness.  In fact, the protagonist, a heavy-drinking defense attorney, never expects anyone to sympathize with his search for justice, probably because he gave up on such a thing happening a long time ago.  The man’s past is never fully explained to us, but it may be correct to guess that he used to be a bright, young law student passionate about finding the truth.  Over the years, he has learned the tricks of the trade, and though he is honest and trustworthy, he knows what he can get away with to get the job done.  The events that take place in this book-based courtroom drama are not ones that are pivotal moments in Mick Haller’s life, but ones that are mysterious and intriguing, and they certainly add up to terrific results.

The screenplay, written by John Romano, shows Haller working for a few different clients, but it mainly focuses on a case in which he represents a rich, young man who can beat the system and escape the horrific charges against him.  This causes the attorney to wonder whether to get his client out of the case or secretly set him up to get caught.  Actor Matthew McConaughey takes on the job of bringing us the character of Haller and he is the one who makes the movie enjoyable.  His likability draws us into the film to begin with and his performance keeps us interested.  The film contains an excellent supporting cast with William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Pena, and Josh Lucas.

While McConaughey helps us enjoy The Lincoln Lawyer, there are other things that make the movie great.  The editing provides added excitement, the soundtrack perfectly expresses the mood, and the script keeps us on the edge of our seat.  It is a whodunit, a thriller, a character study, and a drama all at once.  Out of the few courtroom dramas to come out this year, this one is the most consistently entertaining.

Rating: 4.5/5

Film Review: Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

 

 

A one-armed man arrives at a town with a population around twenty to find that he is not welcome.  In fact, it is not the man whom the town is opposed to but rather what the man is looking for.  The longer he stays, the more danger he is in.  As he continues his forbidden search, the out-of-towner uncovers a crime that has been kept secret by the townspeople for four years.  Now he must escape the isolated community before he is killed.

This is the story which John Sturges paints on a colorful Cinemascope canvas.  Its sets are detailed and realistic and its characters are equally complex and memorable.  The script brings into play some wonderful dialogue as well as some intriguing moments of suspense.

Sturges, primarily a director of Westerns, made Bad Day at Black Rock well enough for today’s audiences to still find it enjoyable. Spencer Tracy heads up a good cast as the crippled stranger, appearing tough and determined but still generally friendly.  The film takes its time to tell its story, nevertheless, I would not watch it again just to view the unfolding of events.

What makes Black Rock so entertaining and captivating is the sharp conversations, the deep characterization, and the masterful cinematography.  The story may be nothing new to us, but few movies today make such good use of the sun’s light as this one.  The way those bright beams of light reflect off the barren plains surrounding the town not only makes this drama thriller attractive, but totally immersive and worth-while.

Rating: 4/5