Tag: Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin’s Annoying Tics Are Actually Good in The Trial of the Chicago 7

There’s so little agreement that there are actually eight defendants when the trial begins. It’s politically expedient for the prosecution to group Bobby in with the others in what they dub “the all-star team,” but he rejects the forced comparison — “Your life, it’s a fuck-you to your father, right? The Trial of the Chicago 7 plays fast and loose with certain details; when Seale was infamously bound and gagged at the order of Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), who wears his biases openly, it was for days, not for the minutes shown in the movie before his trial is severed from the rest of the defendants’. The Trial of the Chicago 7, about the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the seven participants who were charged by the federal government with crimes like conspiracy and inciting a riot, is Sorkin’s second venture behind the camera, after Molly’s Game in 2017. They sometimes feel like a stoner-comedy duo, with Strong doing a voice best described as Tommy Chong by way of Bullwinkle J. The film moves between these innately theatrical spheres with a crackling energy, slipping easily from the courtroom in 1969 to the preparations and protests in 1968. John Froines (Danny Flaherty) and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), more minor players who comment from the sidelines, muse that “this is the Academy Awards of protests, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s an honor just to be nominated.”

It’s a sprawling ensemble — capped by Mark Rylance and Ben Shenkman, as the group’s attorneys, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, and Michael Keaton in a small but pivotal role — and Cohen and Strong emerge as the standouts. This film is one of those exhilarating instances when Sorkin finds a context in which all of his well-established impulses that can be so annoying elsewhere — the self-righteousness, the straw men, the great men, the men who aren’t onstage but are nevertheless digging deep in their diaphragms to deliver their lines to the back row — actually work. The movie ends not with a speech but with a listing of names — a reminder that demands for respectability and good behavior can equal demands for silence, especially when the straightforward speaking of facts counts as rebellion. Attorney Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), acting at the behest of the new Nixon administration, tries to create a monolithic bogeyman out of the “radical left,” we’re shown how little agreement there actually is on the side of the seven defendants as to what it means and how to effect change. Moose. It’s an eye-rolling moment but minor compared with the film’s underlying acknowledgement that this trial was about attempting to punish people for refusing to abide by rules and structures that are inherently unfair. The speeches, the grandstanding, the quips — they totally work in the context of this Netflix courtroom drama. From the first time Gordon-Levitt appears onscreen as Schultz, who is portrayed as an eager up-and-comer disturbed by some of the trial’s developments, it’s obvious that the movie won’t be able to resist giving us some sign that he’s not just a good soldier. Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) insists on his own representation, despite being forced to fend for himself after his lawyer has a medical emergency. Sorkin loves speech, period — motormouthed walk-and-talks where the cleverness of the characters mitigates the fact that they sound awfully similar, quippy exchanges that ping-pong back around to an eventual callback, arguments that rise in a calculated crescendo until one character breaks into a yell and the room abruptly falls silent. At the end of a talk at the San Sebastián Film Festival earlier this week, he offered up his scenario for how he would script the end of Election Night, and it was more unbearable than anything The Newsroom had to offer: Trump refuses to concede, and “for the first time, his Republican enablers march up to the White House and say, ‘Donald, it’s time to go.’” It’s the reason that fantasy of the perfect speech is as nauseating as it is appealing: It’s one based around the idea that there’s a universal understanding of what is right and that everyone wants to act on behalf of it, once enlightened or appropriately shamed. There are a lot of speeches in The Trial of the Chicago 7, but it’s hard to mind, given what it’s about. While Assistant U.S. But as an account of history as filtered through Sorkin’s sensibility, the film takes a thrillingly unexpected, if also understated, turn against civility. Their readiness to hurl Molotov cocktails in turn contrasts with David Dellinger’s (John Carroll Lynch) committed pacifism. But he’ll always be a writer first, and you can see it in his certainty that the correct words, delivered with the proper amount of conviction, can win someone over from the other side of the aisle, even if it’s only one instance — cracking a closed mind open with some carefully crafted sentences. Tom and Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp) are part of Students for a Democratic Society, and their focus on stopping the war and winning elections doesn’t entirely jibe with the anti-authoritarian Yippies, as represented by Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), who want a cultural revolution as well as a political one. (It helps that there are almost no women here for Sorkin to mangle.) It’s about a trial, and it’s about activism, two worlds where people spend a lot of time trying to move hearts and minds with instances of grandstanding. When Abbie and Tom have it out over who should be the one among them to take the stand, it’s Abbie whose point is the better one and Abbie who tells the courtroom, “I think the institutions of our democracy are wonderful things that right now are populated by terrible people.”

Sorkin will always romanticize the idea of the honorable conservative and the promise of polite bipartisanship that accompanies it. What makes it so rousing is not the floridness of the dialogue but the way it’s used to acknowledge that moral clarity is not an end unto itself. More Movie Reviews

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Tags: Photo: Niko Tavernise/Netflix

The most maddening, irresistible proposition in an Aaron Sorkin production is that a speech can change hearts and minds. And you can see how that’s different from a rope on a tree?” he asks Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) midway through the movie, after Fred Hampton (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is killed by the FBI. But Cohen emphasizes Abbie’s shrewdness, the intention behind all the jokey irreverence. He’s a playwright who moved into film and then television and, more recently, started to direct.

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Get Out, Call Me by Your Name Among Winners at the 2018 WGA Awards

Get Out and Call Me by Your Name earned the evening’s top screenplay awards (sorry Logan fans!), while The Handmaid’s Tale, Big Little Lies, and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver took home the WGA’s highest TV-writing honors. Weber, based on the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell; A24Logan, Screenplay by Scott Frank and James Mangold and Michael Green, story by James Mangold; Based on characters from the X-Men comic books and theatrical motion pictures; Twentieth Century Fox FilmMolly’s Game, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by Molly Bloom; STX EntertainmentMudbound, Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, based on the novel by Hillary Jordan; Netflix

DocumentaryBetting on Zero, Written by Theodore Braun; Gunpowder & Sky Jane, Written by Brett Morgen; National Geographic No Stone Unturned, Written by Alex Gibney; AbramoramaOklahoma City, Written by Barak Goodman; American Experience Films

Television Awards

Drama SeriesThe AmericansBetter Call SaulGame of ThronesThe Handmaid’s TaleStranger Things

Comedy SeriesCurb Your EnthusiasmGLOWMaster of None Silicon ValleyVeep

New SeriesAmerican VandalThe DeuceGLOWThe Handmaid’s Tale Ozark

Long-Form OriginalAmerican Horror Story: CultFeud: Bette and JoanFlintGodlessManhunt: Unabomber

Long-Form AdaptedBig Little LiesFargoThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Wizard of Lies

Short-Form New Media Adapted“John Hancock,” Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot“Chapter 2,” The Walking Dead: Red Machete“Justicia,” Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot“Starboy,” Zac & Mia

Animation“Brunchsquatch,” Bob’s Burgers“A Father’s Watch,” The Simpsons“Ruthie,” BoJack Horseman“The Serfsons,” The Simpsons“Time’s Arrow,” BoJack Horseman

Episodic Drama“The Book of Nora,” The Leftovers“Chicanery,” Better Call Saul“The Heart Attack Is the Best Way,” Good Behavior“Homecoming,” The OA“Slip,” Better Call Saul“The Soviet Decision,” The Americans

Episodic Comedy“The Burglary,” Grace and Frankie“Intervention,” The Carmichael Show“Judge,” Veep “Rosario’s Quinceanera,” Will & Grace“The Verdict,” Trial & Error

Comedy/Variety Talk SeriesConanFull Frontal With Samantha BeeJimmy Kimmel LiveLast Week Tonight With John OliverLate Night With Seth MeyersReal Time With Bill MaherThe Daily Show With Trevor NoahThe Jim Jefferies Show

Comedy/Variety Sketch SeriesNathan for YouPortlandiaSaturday Night LiveThe President ShowWeekend Update Summer Edition

Comedy/Variety Specials39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors 89th Annual Academy AwardsAFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Diane KeatonMichael Bolton’s Big, Sexy, Valentine’s Day SpecialNathan for You: A Celebration

Daytime DramaGeneral HospitalDays of Our Lives



Tags: On Sunday night the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West convened on both coasts (at L.A.’s Beverly Hills Hilton and NYC’s Edison Ballroom, respectively) to hand out this year’s best-of screenwriting prizes. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani; Amazon Studios Get Out, Written by Jordan Peele; Universal Pictures I, Tonya, Written by Steven Rogers; Neon Lady Bird, Written by Greta Gerwig; A24 The Shape of Water, Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro; Fox Searchlight

Adapted ScreenplayCall Me by Your Name, Screenplay by James Ivory, based on the novel by André Aciman; Sony Pictures ClassicsThe Disaster Artist, Screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Get Out. You can read the full list of Sunday’s winners below:

Film Awards

Original ScreenplayThe Big Sick, Written by Emily V. Photo: Justin Lubin/Universal Studios.

No, Scandal’s Joshua Malina Will Not Help You Win Back Your Ex-Girlfriend

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

So, you made a big mistake. Joshua Malina. Also, maybe it’s time for Malina to change his number. Aaron explained that his girlfriend was Malina’s “biggest fan” and that he and his former lady friend had watched every episode of the Aaron Sorkin political drama. Malina declined, texting back that though he gave Aaron “chutzpah points” he gets these sorts of requests “a lot.” Which leads one to wonder: How often are people enlisting Malina’s services in their epic romantic-comedy climax-worthy moments? Particularly if you do not know television actor Josh Malina. My day. You broke up with your girlfriend, and now you want to make an equally big gesture to win her back. Not only will this likely not work, here’s another piece of advice: Don’t go randomly texting Joshua Malina to ask for his help in this endeavor. The Scandal actor posted on Twitter a screenshot of a text conversation he had with a stranger who called himself “Aaron.” This guy claimed that he “mustered up the chutzpah” and had tracked down Malina’s number through mysterious (illegal?) internet means just to ask the West Wing star for his celebrity help. pic.twitter.com/hnA3Drbhh4— 🌎Joshua Malina🌎 (@JoshMalina) February 8, 2018


Molly Bloom on How Molly’s Game Got Her Out of the Poker Life

I didn’t want to appear heavy-handed or look like I was involved in the actual moviemaking. It was a really dark time for me, because I imagined them walking home to their families and their lives, and I was just in this tower of a degenerate empire that I’d built, and I didn’t feel empowered anymore. People ask me all the time, “What was it about this game? Maybe they’re not self-aware enough to see themselves in the story.I know! This was not hanging out with your buddies after work and playing for a couple of hours with reasonable stakes. But when I was trying to pitch the book in Hollywood, I kept saying, “Guys, I really think Aaron would be great with this material!” and people were laughing at me. I couldn’t tell my boyfriend’s parents what I did! I worked very closely with Aaron and his team during the research phase, and then, understandably, I didn’t go to the set. [Laughs] Sometimes I would. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

As soon I started speaking to Molly Bloom over the phone, I had to check my ears — that wasn’t actually Jessica Chastain, doing interviews in character, was it? She showed such incredible strength, but you can always see her soul under it. Yeah, it’s such an intense performance, even though it’s not really that physical or anguished or anything. I thought the L.A. I could barely tell my parents what I did. It’s always tricky to talk about this, because I am such an incredible fan of the movie. I hope it’s a situation where it’s a pleasant run-in. But I hope it’s all good now. And as an outsider, you had enough remove to kind of see through these guys and be an observer.Sometimes! First of all, your book. Sorkin will get the Oscar push, but Bloom’s story, which would be compelling even without all the juicy name-dropping and excess, is the reason why. They wanted experiences. And although you’re the narrator of this story and you’re driving it, in many ways it’s a story that’s very incisively about men.Yes, I think it’s both. Yeah! What were you really adamant about, and what did he put his own spin on?So, I got to him because I was really going to all the agencies and meeting with everyone, asking, “Who can introduce me to Sorkin?” Ken Hertz became my lawyer and he said, “I think he’d love this,” so he sent Aaron the story. It was just a few times, a few phone calls, and she just went away. I was just laughing about it because, when I was 12, I had headgear and a back brace, and [in one of the videos] my Dad asks me, “What’s your favorite thing about yourself?” and I sincerely looked at the camera with my headgear and my back brace and said, “Just the fact that I have pretty much everything going for me.” And I meant it! That’s what I’m looking at right now. I’d watch them walk home, and then I’d watch them after work, and watch them walk home again. My family and friends are like, “Oh my god — it’s you!” Jess didn’t have a lot of time to prep for this because she had a lot of projects and we had a short prep time on the movie. You’d expect that in 2009, the year I came to New York City, it would be difficult to put together the biggest poker game in the world, but it wasn’t at all. So I was really happy that Aaron did discuss the drug use, because that was a big part of it, and it was also liberating for me on some level. You had this chance to tell your story again, with Aaron. I think my gift lies in being a startup entrepreneur and creating environments and experiences. It became healing to write, but I was also in crisis-survival mode. The breathy, measured tone that Chastain adopts as the infamous “poker princess” in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game was all there on the other end of the line, but as we spoke, it was clear that Bloom herself was under a hell of a lot less stress than the bandage-dress-clad screen incarnation. You wouldn’t have written the book otherwise!Yeah, I did know that the story was my best asset to get out of trouble, and I wish sometimes that it wasn’t, that I could land on a different solution. I just felt sick. I had relationships with people and I understood after I got in trouble why no one wanted to get in touch. It’s just too much.I used to be in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel running these games, and they’d be going on for days, and I’d watch these people walk to work, you know? But this time around, I’m certain it has to have meaning. So now that you’re kind of winding down this multiyear “way out” of your poker life, do you think you’d still be interested in film or writing, or would you want to go to something completely different?Yeah, I don’t think I necessarily have a huge talent, or any talent, with the film world. It felt very in his wheelhouse.I thought so too! I think I thought it was a hard period in my life, that that was just contextual, and I came to realize that really wasn’t the case at all: that I really was an addict. The guys that played with this much privilege, access, fame, didn’t want things anymore. Did you spend a lot of time with her developing the character? I got that. Chastain’s Molly is notably the first front-and-center female protagonist that Sorkin, a pop poet of the male ego, has written. I think she really developed a very layered and compelling character — not because it’s me! I think I just got really lucky with the people who want to tell my story. Just as a consultant, as someone who was there?No. She’s so brilliant. Everything’s fueled by Red Bull and cocaine. It’s interesting to see both sides of it. It is such a great movie. She’s also no longer on trial for illegal gambling. They wanted to feel the concept of scarcity again. I’m assuming that, for legal reasons, you couldn’t name the names in the film that you did in the book, but now it’s kind of an open secret that “Player X” is Tobey Maguire, for example. I haven’t heard from them for a long time. But you also have to know that you have an amazing story on your hands. I lost sight that she was even doing her work or processing it. There’s a lot of visibility now, even if it’s supposedly “anonymous.”No, I haven’t heard from anyone. After living your life for so long in secret because of the nature of the game, and the component of doing drugs, and all these things … to be able to live transparently and own it all is a much better place. I’m very interested in this co-working space for women, and possibly building a digital layer. It’s just mentally intense.I think it was incredible how well she communicated, at least to me, the strength underlying her vulnerability. He was very interested in this person and who she was, as opposed to most people, who were like, “Tell me about the celebrities! It wasn’t just my life on the line, a lot of other people were affected, so it made the decision easier. And as he asked those questions, it was clear he was trying to find a way into the story in a very different way than other people had. It’s like a gambling addiction is just a small version of what was happening to the economy — even after that big of a loss, you don’t rethink your behavior, you just go back in.Exactly. I mean, all the bombast and ego, all these chest-thumping guys. It’s so awesome!”I just want to establish that when I talk about the movie, you know, it’s the artistic interpretation and not, like, what I did! Jessica Chastain is incredible in the film.She blew my mind. Do you have any insights on that pre-recession, everything-on-steroids era of bros? games became much more affected by the financial crisis than New York, which is interesting because my New York games were all Wall Street guys. But somehow, they had stayed insulated. But the film’s source material, Bloom’s dishy 2014 book Molly’s Game, which details her experiences as an underground celebrity poker mogul, is at its core a classic story of hubris, both on the part of the heroine and her rich and powerful clients. I’m the Poker Princess, and I was like, “I don’t know why we have to keep using that [phrase.]” I mean, I get the alliteration …

Well, “Poker Princess” makes it sound like more of a rom-com. When I took inventory of the wreckage that I’d created, I felt that the best way out, the most monetizable asset, was to write it. I’ve seen what power women have in unification, and I would love to create co-working spaces and networks for female entrepreneurs. And Aaron was like, “I need to see all of them.” I was like, “Really?”

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Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Chastain on Female Characters and Molly’s Game

Best Actress Watch: Will Jessica Chastain Be a Contender for Molly’s Game? This was losing millions and millions of dollars, playing for a couple of days at a time, and that’s unmanageable. I spoke to Bloom about working with Chastain and Sorkin, the bad old days of pre-recession L.A., and what will happen when she inevitably bumps into one of her old clients on the awards circuit. I just casually mentioned to him the video interviews that my Dad did with us when we were little — which are in the film — and he wanted to see all of those. It feels like it would be inevitable that you bump into someone at some kind of awards-season event or something.It does, and that might happen! It was an interesting time in my life. The other thing I like both about your book and the movie is that it’s kind of a weird period piece about a certain era of Hollywood and New York. Interestingly enough, the character of Idris [Elba] in the movie — how in the beginning he thinks [Molly is] one thing and then realizes she’s another — Aaron had said that was like his journey with it. She’s no longer secretly running multimillion-dollar poker games in the back rooms and hotel suites of Hollywood, for one thing. We have a female at the center of it, but it’s a woman in a man’s world. My criminal attorney had vouched for me with his firm. I was like, “Wait, doesn’t she need more?” But when I saw her on the screen I was just floored! What made you feel you were ready to talk about some of these more difficult subjects?You know, when I was writing this book I don’t think that I had fully … conceded that I was a drug addict or an alcoholic. Tags: Did you have any input on any of it once it got to production? But it doesn’t feel like it’s such an incredible fan of …[Laughs]

“It’s my life! Have you heard from any of the actual players as the film’s premiere approaches? What did they eat?” He came at it from a very different angle. I leaned into a 12-step program and I think that helped me come to terms with it, but that was after the book was published. My mom had put her house up to bail me out of jail! This interview has been edited for clarity and flow. What did they drink? So when you did start working with Sorkin, how did that partnership work? If I hadn’t known it was being adapted by Aaron Sorkin, I probably would have assumed it was going to be.Would you have? In the book you really paint that picture once you get to the multi-day games, and it’s just like … ugh. I think that’s really insightful that you say that, because that’s what it was. So we didn’t hang out that much, but in the time we did, I was like, “I need to be on my best behavior and give her as much as I can.” But she’s so real and disarming that I felt like I was hanging out with a friend. Things weren’t interesting to them. I guess I’ve never heard an interview with you in person, but it’s crazy because now I realize her voice sounds exactly like yours.Isn’t that crazy? And it’s a rare female-driven story of near-psychotic ambition, obsession, and vice that can stand alongside any sweat-drenched Scorsese hero. I was living in Colorado at my mom’s at the time, and just kind of going back and forth with him, answering his questions. This might be the most relaxed she’s been in years — even with the occasional inconvenience of needing a waiver from Canadian authorities in order to see the premiere of your own film. Besides the names, there’s a lot in the film that isn’t in the book, and one thing that stood out to me in particular was that it talks about your drug use during this time. Looking back on that, what do you make of it?Well, the game started pre-2008, which is when everything fell apart, but they continued into … it was like 2003 to 2011. What attracted people to it?” I think it’s a couple of things. Aaron and I met, and then he read my book and got in contact with me again. You’re as sick as your secrets, and my whole life was a secret, so it’s just … it’s been really healing and I’ve found a lot of inner peace by just owning everything and moving forward from there. It clicks a lot of things into place, as far as the psychology of the story goes.Yeah, and it’s exhausting and lonely to constantly live in secret! He wanted to know a lot about my athletic career, my relationship with my father. There’s some implications to telling your story and exposing yourself in that way that are uncomfortable. But there was also a large component to it that was addiction.