Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: ‘Marshall’

Thursday, November 30, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Marshall” is a powerful film about a Bridgeport, Conn., civil rights case in 1941 pivotal in the life and career of Atty. Thurgood Marshall, who in 1967 was the first African-American appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

Director Reginald Hudlin handles the controversial material with care, emphasizing the human drama and the importance of the case in Marshall’s career and the Civil Rights Movement.

Hudlin makes what is essentially a courtroom-procedural very watchable, thanks to a solid screenplay by Jacob Koskoff (screenwriter, “Macbeth,” 2015; “The Marc Pease Experience,” 2009) and Michael Koskoff (Jacob Koskoff’s son in his theatrical movie screenplay debut).

Hudlin (director, “House Party,” 1990; “Boomerang,” 1992; “The Great White Hype,” 1996; “The Ladies Man,” 2000; and numerous TV shows) maintains a balanced tone. The plot has a twist, so there will be no spoiler alerts here. Suffice it to say, “Marshall” is gripping storytelling.

What’s perhaps most interesting about “Marshall” is that it takes place in a northern city in the United States where the roots of racism are not so obvious as in the then Jim Crow South. Thurgood Marshall is literally the new “Marshall” in town.

“Marshall” is not all Chadwick Boseman in the lead role of Thurgood Marshall, but that is more or less the case since he’s on screen for a majority of the film. Boseman (“Captain America; Civil War,” 2016; “Get On Up,” 2014; “42,” 2013) is earnest, intense and often humorous in his performance. Boseman is conveys the inner life of characters he has portrayed in his biopic roles.

Boseman and Josh Gad (Sam Friedman) have good chemistry. Gad (voice of Olaf in “Frozen,” 2013) is believable and nuances aspects of a not always likeable character.

Commendable in supporting roles: Kate Hudson as the alleged rape case victim; Sterling K. Brown as the defendant in the case, and James Cromwell as the judge.

“Marshall” glows with a warm patina, with scenes often bathed in lovely tones and back-lighting in the cinematography by director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel (“X-Men: Apocalypse,” 2016; “Valkyrie,” 2008; “Three Kings,” 1999) and production design by Richard Hoover (“42”; “Girl, Interrupted,” 1999; “Dead Man Walking,” 1995). Flashbacks are depicted in muted grays.

“Marshall” is a triumphant film. It’s a must-see for shining a light on a little-known true American crime story and courtroom drama.

“Marshall,”MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for mature thematic content, sexuality, violence and some strong language; Genre: Biography, Drama; Run time: 1 hr., 58 mins.; Distributed by Open Road Films.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Marshall” was filmed in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y.). Production Designer Richard Hoover is the brother of Kathy McAuley of Upper Saucon Township, who assisted him with research for the film.

Box Office,Nov. 24: “Coco,” the animated Disney feature, ruled the roost for the Thanksgiving Day weekend, with $49 million for the weekend, and $71.1 million since opening Nov. 22, dropping “Justice League” one slot to No. 2, with $40.7 million, $171.5 million, two weeks, as “Wonder,” a film about a young boy with facial differences, dropped one placed to No. 3, $22.3 million, $69.4 million, two weeks.

4. “Thor: Ragnarok” dropped one spot, $16.7 million, $277.4 million, four weeks. 5. “Daddy’s Home 2” slipped one place, $13.2 million, $72.6 million, three weeks. 6. “Murder on the Orient Express” chugged down one spot, $13 million, $74.2 million, three weeks. 7. “The Star” dropped one place, $6.8 million, $22 million, two weeks;. 8. “A Bad Moms Christmas” slid down one place, $5 million, $59.7 million, four weeks. 9. “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” moved up 26 places, $4.5 million, weekend; $6.2 million, two weeks. 10. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” slid down one spot, $4.4 million, $7.6 million, three weeks. 32. “Marshall” ajudicated down five slots, $61,569, on only 11 screens, $8.8 million, seven weeks.

Unreel,Dec. 1:

“Wonder Wheel,”PG-13: Woody Allen directs Jim Belushi, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake, and Kate Winslet in the drama set in 1950s’ Coney Island about a lifeguard and a middle-aged carousel operator and his wife.

“The Disaster Artist,”R: James Franco directs himself, his brother, James Franco, and Eliza Coupe, Alison Brie, Zoey Deutch, and Kristen Bell in the comedy-drama about Tommy Wiseasu, director of “The Room,” said to be the worst movie ever made.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes