Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Before the Court: Leder Looks at Early Work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | January 16th, 2019

Compared to the Betsy West and Julie Cohen documentary “RBG,” Mimi Leder’s period biographical slice “On the Basis of Sex” is nowhere near as notorious as one might hope, but the hagiographic reverence for Ruth Bader Ginsburg is tempered by enough heart and humor to overcome some of the film’s more predictable adherence to its genre. Like a good law student, Leder focuses on a presentation of the factual and procedural. That choice, similar to Reginald Hudlin’s time- and case-specific look at a pre-icon status Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s “Marshall,” sacrifice some elements of richer and deeper characterization -- including the flaws that help us recognize heroes as humans.

Felicity Jones, trying a slightly odd facsimile of RBG’s Brooklyn accent, handles all the condescension, sexism, and dismissiveness that can be dished out by the likes of white Harvard men in suits, nevertheless persisting when faced with the insufferable bullshit of Sam Waterston’s dean and Stephen Root’s professor. The screenplay, by Ginsburg’s nephew Daniel Stiepleman, makes hay with a few choice shots at the storied Ivy League institution. The chauvinist Crimson jerks are expectedly hissable, which makes Leder’s more subtle and complex take on the ACLU’s Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux, doing a little Alan Alda) one of the film’s strengths.

In a bit of movie magic that would have delighted RBG’s husband, Martin D. Ginsburg is played by Armie Hammer. Hammer’s recent and somewhat unexpected turns in “Call Me by Your Name” and “Sorry to Bother You” suggest fairly gutsy instincts by the usually safe matinee idol standards of big-budget players. Hammer’s “On the Basis of Sex” part is far from risky but as A. O. Scott has pointed out, the actor “has never looked happier,” taking on a supporting role in every sense of the word. Viewed as a portrait of the progressive and, for its era, unorthodox marriage enjoyed by the Ginsburgs -- which was delightfully highlighted in “RBG” -- “On the Basis of Sex” is catnip. One of the best moments in the film is a touching scene in which Martin comforts daughter Jane after a mother-daughter disagreement.

While Jones and Hammer remain impossibly gorgeous throughout the years covered in the narrative, Leder maintains an awareness of time not only through the costumes and cars but by commenting directly on both opportunities and obstacles experienced by women of different ages. In one sequence, Bader Ginsburg and Jane pay a visit to the office of the legendary judge/activist/feminist Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates), whose thoughts are as eye-opening to RBG as Jane’s assertive handling of unwelcome street harassment. Later, in the movie’s closing arguments, RBG will speak to the “radical social change” marked so noticeably by the passing of time.

The biopic-wary should applaud “On the Basis of Sex” for its avoidance of the temptation to cover a longer chronology of Bader Ginsburg’s life and career. In comments to the Hollywood Reporter following the film’s New York premiere, Stiepleman stated that he selected the Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue appeal because it “was the only one” that had husband and wife “fighting in court for what [the Ginsburgs] also created at home, which was real equality.” That parallelism works nicely, and it is just as nice to have Mimi Leder back in the director’s chair. Hopefully, we will not have to wait as long for her next feature.  

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Two bills are fighting for ethical supremacy in the North Dakota State Legislature. Senate Bill 2148, sponsored by Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat from Fargo, received a ‘Do Pass’ from Special Ethics Committee on…

Culture

​‘Pull-Tab’ machines

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comThere is nothing more hopeless than a feeling unrequited. The obsession it brings, the doubt it stews, and the madness which erases your sense of self are crippling. You’ll give more than you are…

Thursday, February 21, 5:30-8:30 p.m.650 40th Ave S, West FargoThe area’s premier evening of Yoga, wine, cheese and community. Luna Fargo restaurant owner and wine/cheese expert, Nikki Berglund, will select 3 pairings to follow…

It will be Valentine’s Day by the time this issue hits the stands, but who knows you might even be picking it up after you’ve finished eating the last of the chocolates you bought for yourself for Valentine’s Day.We’re not…

Gadfly

Anti-Life America

by Ed Raymond

All The Evidence Points To An Anti-Life Political PartyAfter observing and experiencing the machinations and voting records of the Republican Party from Nixon to Reagan To Bush To Trump, one can arrive at only one conclusion: It is…

After a day of checking the weather updates and keeping an eye on any closing announcements from this week’s entrants, our judges ordered up a ride share service and headed out to the western side of town for two stops in West…

Over the past few years Luna has become my favorite restaurant in the FM area. The thoughtfulness of Ryan’s creations and the neighborhood environment of the locale as a whole creates a beautiful experience that can’t be found…

Music

​Ready or Knot

by HPR Contributor

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comWhen Sabrina gets a hold of you and asks you to interview a band as unique as Fargo locals The Knotties you just yell “yes!” Only a few days later I was meeting with Channing Minnema (lead vocals,…

Documentarian Penny Lane adds another entertaining movie to her filmography with an inside look at the recent rise of the Satanic Temple. As a movie experience, “Hail Satan?” often lives deliciously. The film might even turn…

By Jacinta Zensjacinta.zens@gmail.comThe Department of Visual Arts at Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls and the Kaddatz Galleries are excited to announce the First Annual Visiting Artists Workshop series.…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

The 1,290 square-foot garage that was once Main Avenue Auto has generated a lot of buzz for good reason. Harold’s on Main is Moorhead’s newest watering hole and the attention is all in the details. With its dark wood paneling,…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Cara Cody-Brauncara.braun@wyndmereschools.orgI am not much of a science fiction fan, but I’m a sucker for a story with a portal. Who hasn’t dreamed of entering a different world? Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole in…