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Hammerle on ... 'The Company You Keep', 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Robert Hammerle
June 5, 2013
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The Company You Keep

Well, good people, it’s time to stop and smell the cinematic roses, as Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep” is a fine film on multiple levels. To begin with, while you may have known that this intriguing drama stars both Mr. Redford and Shia LaBeouf, did you know that Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Anna Kendrick, Brendon Gleeson and Sam Elliott are also in this film? Isn’t that enough to pry you out of your malaise and get into the theater to see what this film is all about?

It centers on suspected members of the Weather Underground from the 1970s being arrested in New York 30 years after their alleged involvement in a bank robbery that resulted in a guard being killed. Susan Sarandon’s Sharon Solarz, the mother of two, was arrested in New York by the FBI while trying to turn herself in, and Robert Redford’s character is forced on the run as her suspected accomplice. Mr. Redford, playing the widowed father of a 12-year-old daughter, is at his laconic best as a lawyer trying to protect his past while not revealing the involvement of old friends.rating1.jpg
Despite the fact that these old Vietnam War protesters have kept a tight bond despite hiding from public view for three decades, it comes unraveled with the work of a young newspaperman played by Mr. LaBeouf. Fighting to keep his job, he is the first one to track the intentions of Mr. Redford’s character as he flees to the Midwest. Is he trying to protect himself or simply others?

In the process, Mr. Redford’s Nick Sloan reunites with his old lover, Mimi, played by the still beautiful

Ms. Christie. How can you possibly save yourself if it involves sending someone forever etched on your soul to prison? Watching their characters confront each other is as mesmerizing as it is moving, and you end up reliving your reflections of both as actors as they relive their relationship as young protesters who were convinced they were fighting on the right side of justice.
The value of “The Company You Keep” extends beyond its entertainment as a film. Even if you are too young to have experienced the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War debacle of the 1960s and 70s, you need to remember.

Tragically, Sloan’s young friends did the unthinkable by robbing a bank when their protest deepened. While certainly inexcusable, over 50,000 young American boys were to die in Vietnam while our government and others ignored the consequences. A 1969 college graduate, I, like many, continued peaceful protests. Yet how could we really condemn protests turning to violence after college kids were gunned down at Kent State in 1968?

Finally, if you want to see a brilliant film that plays upon the theme captured by Mr. Redford, then go see Sidney Lumet’s “Running on Empty” (1988). The late River Phoenix was unforgettable as a young kid constantly running for years with his parents and sister as a result of the bombing of a “Dow-like” building where a janitor was killed. With the help of old friends like that experienced by the characters of Mr. Redford, Ms. Sarandon and Ms. Christie, Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti were hunted parents who could never spend more than several months at any location. Like the characters of Redford and Sarandon, they had a child who had to be released into the real world, a move that would forever separate them from one another.

While “The Company You Keep” embraces cerebral themes as opposed to “Running on Empty’s” emotional foundation, they both help you understand the consequences of opposing your government’s perfidy in sending massive numbers of young Americans to an undeserved grave. Mistakes were made by parents in both movies when they were young and inspired, but the deaths they inadvertently caused did not compare to those lying in Vietnam’s ashes.

Who was really at fault and who was to blame? You tell me.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I find it safe to say that most of you will find J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” to be a completely fun ride. While you don’t need to be a fan of the old TV series, the film won’t disappoint if you find yourself in that league.

While William Shatner certainly wishes he had Chris Pine’s penetrating blue eyes, they both are chips off the same Captain Kirk block. Arrogant yet caring and bullheaded to a fault, they will always find the ability to lead the Enterprise out of the cauldron they created.
rating2.jpg Zachary Quinto is a young Mr. Spock, whose dedication to intellect over emotion frequently annoys his comrades, not to mention himself. While Spock and Kirk often battle, they would give their lives for the other.

Furthermore, Karl Urban strikes the right chord as the pugnacious Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and he helps you remember the fun brought to the screen by the late DeForest Kelley. In addition, Simon Pegg, the very funny Englishman who I hope you have seen in such scatological endearing films as “Paul” (2011), “Hot Fuzz” (2007), and “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), makes the neurotic Scotty a full-time treat.

But the film clicks due to a wonderful performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, here playing Khan, a human-looking ball of destruction. As a result of shedding the necessity of artificial makeup, Cumberbatch’s Khan has been able to survive the centuries for one specific purpose, namely to get even with everyone. He’s a great villain.

Finally, the success of the film centers on a group of friends rediscovering each other’s strengths while gradually rejecting their personal weaknesses. They all need to be reeled in at times, and Spock is helped immensely from the fact that he is in love with Uhura. Zoe Saldana is able to do a lot with very little, and her Uhura is able to pierce Spock’s heart in the same way her Neytiri did to Sam Worthington in “Avatar” (2009).

Climb aboard and blast off.•

__________

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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