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"Chicago 10"

Directed by Brett Morgen.
Written by Brett Morgen. (Some of this documentary's material is scripted.)
Starring the voices of Nick Nolte, Hank Azaria, Jeffrey Wright, Roy Scheider and others.
Release Year:  ?
Review Date:  1/31/07


"Chicago 10" was chosen to open the 2007 Sundance Festival, which is in Big Fucking Deal territory, for sure...thankfully, the Sundance programmers picked right on this one, directed by Brett Morgen, the documentary filmmaker who has been nominated for one of his documentaries ("On the Ropes") and had commercial success with another ("The Kid Stays in the Picture").

His newest film, "Chicago 10", is clearly meant to not only highlight a turbulent time in American politics--the 1968 Democratic National Convention, to be specific--but to inspire a new generation of rabble rousers to get off their collective keisters and take arms!  Talk about a strange brew: by mixing old news footage from 1967 and 1968 of "The Yippies", a collection of men and women who opposed the war in Vietnam and staged rallies against American policymakers all over the country, as well as crafting an animated film-within-the-film about the trial of eight of the leaders of these protests, and then mixing great angry music from the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and today, Morgen's fiery documentary will make some of the more agitated younger folks of today raise up and fight for their rights!

The film isn't perfect--and, because the animated portion of the film is mostly a fictionalization of what really happened during the trial, "Chicago 10" is also occasionally more drama than documentary--but it certainly is a bold, lively, entertaining work.  The voice work that Morgen wrangled for his film is quite good--Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Hank Azaria, Jeffrey Wright and Roy Scheider, to name a few, all worked for free on this film--and the footage of race relations and police brutality of the time is still just as shocking today as it was back then.  The characters involved with the Yippie organization are certainly colorful; for a generation of people like myself who were not alive when all of this went down, it's a nice history lesson on one of the last great organized protest of the 20th century in terms of turnout and effect.

"Chicago 10" got a standing ovation from our audience, but again, I thought that it was mostly well done, but far from perfect.  Hopefully, the film will get picked up and make some noise if it gets released later this year. 

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09