The Trial of the Chicago 7 ★½

Sorkin’s picked up a few tricks since executing his first Operation Gaslight The Public Into Believing This Radio Play Is A Motion Picture (OGTPIBTRPIAMP), “Molly’s Game”. Well. He’s picked up one trick: intercutting mid-sentence to another character’s monologue where they provide the clause the other guy was about to say. One would imagine all that time he spent meandering aimlessly on the Social Network set, like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation nebbishing through the movie-within-a-movie set of Being John Malkovich, would’ve provided some fruitful opportunities to study Fincher’s craftsmanship. A las…

Everybody sits for the whole movie. Sorkin is content with less than the bare minimum. The five-minute sequence where Kunstler mimes Schultz cross-examining Hayden is presented with exactly four angles: OTS shot-reverse-shot and two matching singles. Redmayne sits the entire time and Rylance sinks his roots into the single set of spikes hot-glued to the hardwood. Hard to overstate just how lazy it all is.

I was overjoyed to see Sorkin’s recent self-parodic statements about how he would pen the 2020 election actually play out in Trial. Sorkin just cannot resist making the state prosecutor rise and pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of Vietnam alongside our naive idealists. He literally can’t help his unhinged belief that at the core of every agent of repression is a decent human being with morals and principles.

Think of the way MLK is dispatched in the opening minute via a royalty-free gunshot sound effect played over an AP photograph of the Lorraine Motel, as a rock song thumps us through the watersheds of the 60s. Think of the way Sorkin delights in the image of a gagged and bound Bobby Seale while empathizing with Boy Scout Leader Dave Dellinger as he’s cuffed and restrained. Think of the epilogue which explicitly states it was lead hippie Jerry Rubin’s ‘jaywalking’ that resulted in his untimely death.

If only the punks had followed the damn rules.