Monday, May 7, 2018

Get to know Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Julie Cohen/Betsy West's rousing documentary, RBG

As have so many of us, TrustMovies has been a fan of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ever since she was originally appointed to the court back in 1993. Watching the wonderful, rousing, feel-good (and for good reason) documentary RBG made me better understand the many reasons why appreciating this amazing woman comes so easily and thoroughly. If no less an adversary than her late co-justice Antonin Scalia could be a fan, as this movie makes clear was the case, perhaps it's time for some other right-wing-nut Republicans to come aboard, too.

As produced and directed by filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West (shown above, with Ms Cohen on the right), the documentary is immediately engaging and provoking, beginning as it does with an array of nasty comments about Justice Ginsburg -- who has struggled for and won so many landmark cases involving women's rights -- coming mostly from men, of course. (She is shown below with President Jimmy Carter, at the time of her appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.)

The movie is a heady, buoyant mix of history, splendid archival photos, and most especially the thoughts and ideas that Justice Ginsburg wrote and spoke that helped win those early cases and that now mark her as the chief dissenting voice in a Supreme Court far too packed with right-wing ideologues using their power and their very cheap excuses to foist upon America such garbage as the Citizens United and Lilly Ledbetter decisions (among far too many others).

As the documentary makes clear, Justice Ginsburg began her time on the Court as a kind of consensus-achieving middle-grounder, but she has had to move much farther to the left to try to counteract the shoddy and oppressive decisions of the majority of these foul knaves. Clarence Thomas? Really? Oh, well: onwards and sideways, as ever.

We see our Justice in the Court, at the gym with her trainer (above), in her office (below) and with family members -- especially her late husband who seems to have been a prince of a fellow who genuinely believed in and lived by the idea of gender equality.

Though their movie is definitely pro-Ginsburg, the filmmaker don't pussyfoot around RBG's harsh words preceding this past Presidential election concerning Donald Trump. Was this an incorrect thing for a sitting justice to say. Maybe. But has there ever been as incorrect a President as Mr. Trump -- in both his words (lies) and his actions?

The movie is also just a tad repetitive. Do we need to see, more than once, RBG laughing at the antics of Kate McKinnon, as the actress plays RBG on Saturday Night Live? Don't think so. And, as often happens in these bio-docs, the words of praise for the subject -- absolutely deserved, of course -- do pile up a little too long and lengthily toward the finale

But these are minor quibbles. By the end of RBG, I was more than grateful to have been able to learn so much about this fine woman, to hear her ideas and to see her in action, that I can only now hope that the increasingly dumbed-down America she has spent her life working for actually deserves her. We shall see. At age 85, how long can this fine lady last? We can only hope that she continues her work until the now utterly despicable Republican Party no longer controls the Supreme Court, Congress and the Presidency.

From Magnolia Pictures and running maybe five minutes too long at 97 minutes, the documentary opened this past week in more than 30 cities across the country and will hit more than 100 others this Friday, May 11. Here in South Florida, RBG will play the Miami area at the O Cinema Miami Beach, MDC’s Tower Theater, AMC Aventura 24, AMC Sunset Place 24, and Regal South Beach. In Palm Beach County, look for it in Boca Raton at the Regal Shadowood and the Cinemark Palace -- with the Movies of Delray and Movies of Lake Worth, and the Lake Worth Playhouse adding to the mix come next Friday, May 18. Click here and scroll down to see the entire list of playdates, cities and theaters all across the country.

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