Tag Archives: government

The Conspirator: 19th Century Courtroom Drama

I didn’t know much about this movie as me and my family sat down to watch this Robert Redford film of drama. I thought, “Hmmm, James McAvoy? Courtroom drama? Civil War Era? I’m in.” Always having had an interest in the courtroom (I love The Rainmaker.) and becoming a lawyer, fighting for equal representation, this movie piqued my interest once again. And the injustice of another trial was the perfect setting for this film of one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is a hardened Civil War

Never stop acting, you lovely man you, James McAvoy.

Northerner that has found his place in the martial court of the newly reunited United States of America. Prejudiced like so many against the South, Frederick hesitantly walks through a newly formed Union, as if on eggshells. And then one night it happened.

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) the man who pulled the trigger, escaped on the only bridge opened that night in D.C., and

Some wonderful images from The Conspirator.

was subsequently shot by his pursuers. It was not this man alone though who crafted one of the worst killings of all time. Also implicated were a dozen other men, including one Mrs. Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). It was at her boarding house that those men, with or without her knowledge, plotted a beloved President’s assassination.

In conjunction with Mary Surratt’s case, Aiken must defend a woman who he finds detestable, a Southerner, and do it with all the equality he can muster. With inner turmoil, a D.C. village who outcasts Aiken for his ability to abide by justice for all citizens, and a government attempting to hang a woman out to dry for her boarding house/son’s doing, this film full to the brim with injustice. And like it or not, the ending with frustrate the shizz out of you. And, despite this harrowing fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Just some of the great cast from the movie. Chillin'.

Why, you may ask? The actors. And surprisingly, a bunch of English actors parading about as Northerners and Southerners of America. It appears as if Robert Redford found their caliber of acting to be far better than that of an equally good American counterpart. But that’s besides the point. Let’s talk about James McAvoy. This wonderful actor really took a role that spoke to me and my own beliefs. He attention and hold to justice was admirable and honorable all in one. Despite the persecution he felt from his contemporaries, he fought fairly for Mary Surratt and her unfair incarceration and foreboding hang date. And Robin Wright herself was a beauty to watch on film. Her prim and proper character fought for her son and daughter and the injustice that was done to her was denied until the end.

Other notable people? Of course there are lots. Kevin Kline played a key, behind the scenes role as

Wonderful scenes happened here.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War and initiator of the Mary Surratt trial. He knew his Northern counterparts demanded a scapegoat, some form of justice, and he gave it to them. Tom Wilkinson played the helpless Southern Marlyand lawyer in charge of Mary’s case who had to decline taking it on the grounds of his bias. His noble stature as Reverdy Johnson stood out to me, despite his cowardice. Evan Rachel Wood played a solidly respectable Anna Surratt, the daughter and poorly mistreated girl that Aiken came to respect despite her ability to turn in her brother. And Danny Huston played a fantastic antagonist as Joseph Holt, the prosecuting attorney and lowlife scoundrel.

A film to be remembered.

The list goes on as is expected from a Redford backed film, and I appreciated the attention to detail in costume, characters, and time period. For the love of God, we must talk about the lighting! It was superb. If any detail in a time period without electricity needed paying attention to, it was this. The lighting in this film blew me out of the water. It literally blew my mind how a film could still function with minimal lighting and dust floating through the air, and make it seem so so so so so authentic. It was superb and caught all of my attention, as if the trial was taking place just right in front of me. The town felt like a suburb of D.C., and all actors carried resemblances of their Civil War characters. If any period piece film about the Civil War need be watched other than Glory (that most important #1), it should be this one. 9.5 out of 10.

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X-Men: First Class

So I’d been planning to see this movie with my mom for some time. We’re big James McAvoy, and this movie quickly jumped to the top of our list. We thought, “Hey, James McAvoy. A new X-men movie that looks quite good? Definitely.” And he didn’t disappoint. And neither did anyone else in the film X-Men: First Class. I did expect to take the phrase “First Class” literally, but I was a bit mistaken. (I thought this movie would focus on the first young group that Charles Xavier took into the X-Men academy. Guess not.) But I wasn’t disappointed at all. This movie delivered. I would say it did, even more than the original trilogy.

So the plot of this movie is the origins of the X-men. I’m pretty sure it holds true to the comics, and I think this

The rivals unite.

was a big plus. (Maybe a few liberties were taken?) But, either way, this 1960’s set X-men classic follows the origins of Erik Lensherr/ Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). This is before Charles was given his wheelchair (explained) and so that’s why you see him puttering around on his own two legs. The hip, suave, young Xavier (a welcome change from Patrick Stewart’s stuffy portrayal of Professor X) has just become a Professor from Cambridge based on his work on human mutation. (Fitting right?) Parallel to this, Erik is on a rampage (using his harnessed powers) to destroy the German Nazis that imprisoned him during WWII and killing his mother. It was this pain that unleashed his powers as a young boy.

And it is through the power of the government that these two come together to team up for the only time in their lives. To stop an evil mutant of unspeakable power, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) these two must recruit other mutants across the world in order to prevent nuclear disaster. As you watch the movie, you find that, in fact, the X-Men were what prevented the Cuban Missile Crisis. And then, as expected, things fall apart for the duo, leading up nicely to the next movies made years ago.

It sent chills down my spine when he put that helmet on.

I’ve heard people didn’t like this movie. People gave this a bad review and I was surprised. I found this to be a decent movie that was respectable among X-men entertainment. So I found it hard to believe, with such a good cast and decent special effects, how this movie could even be viewed as a bomb. I mean, come on, James McAvoy (great actor) and one of my personal favorites, Michael Fassbender? You can’t get much better than that. Throw in a handfull of cameos (yes, a scene of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Rebecca Romjin as a view of the older Mystique.) and great foreshadowing, and you have a great prequel.

I mean, I can’t say enough about the cast this film boasts. I have to say again, James McAvoy. Having another big action film under his belt, Wanted, he is perfectly comfortable as an action hero (although be it a passive one). Michael Fassbender. He is no newbie when it comes to action films. 300, Centurion, Inglorious Basterds. This guy has done some of the best action films of the decade. And he’s such a malicious character actor that when you see him as the villain, you can actually see the evil seething from him. Kevin Bacon. I haven’t seen him in a while and they hid it well in the trailers that he was in the movie. And as the villain? That was a shock. But still, he was quite devious. Combine that with Nicholas Holt as Beast (great job to say the least) and Jennifer Lawrence (academy award winner for Winter’s Bone.) among other X-Men, and you have a great cast.

Great group. Great cast. Great movie.

From the director Matthew Vaughn, director of some pretty badass action films, Layer Cake (personal favorite), Kick Ass, even Stardust was decent, you have to expect some good acting combined with great visual chemistry. There’s a great scene with Michael Fassbender absolutely destroying some Argentinian Nazi fools that brims with gorish action. This movie screams great summer film. If Stan Lee’s onboard (not just for the money, I hope) then it has to be good. His baby creation has come to life once again and it’s all good. 8.8 out of 10.