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Hammerle on ... 'The Lone Ranger,' 'The Heat'

Robert Hammerle
July 17, 2013
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The Lone Ranger

Remember that old hateful promotional TV ad starring Kelly LeBrock where she immortalized the conceited phrase, “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful?” Well, let me paraphrase it by saying, “Don’t hate me because I liked ‘The Lone Ranger.’” From my view, what most of today’s critics are missing is the movie’s great strength, namely its historical significance.

Rip him if you will, but I thought Johnny Depp was a blast in his role as Tonto. Here he tells his life story to a young lad while participating in a traveling road show in 1933 where he appears as a human mannequin labeled the “Noble Savage.”

rating-ranger.gifBeginning in 1869, Tonto relives his own tragic childhood. Having befriended two white stragglers for a cheap pocket watch, they wipe out his small tribe after he leads them to a rich silver deposit. It is a heartbreaking story and reflects the theme of the film where Native Americans are on the verge of becoming ghosts in their own land.

Against this backdrop, the vagabond Tonto meets the delusional Armie Hammer, playing a character returning to the Old West after graduating from law school. Mr. Hammer’s John Reid/Lone Ranger is dedicated to the cause of justice, and he sees no need for a gun. He’s wrong.

As Reid joins a posse of rangers led by his brother (James Badge Dale) in pursuit of the notorious Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), they ride into a death trap. Luckily, Reid survives with the reluctant help of Tonto, and he begins to wear his classic mask to hide his identity.

Tom Wilkinson, great as always, plays Cole, one of the ruthless railroad tycoons building the transcontinental rail line. Besides befriending Cavendish, he secretly violates treaties with the surviving Comanches, inducing the military to wrongfully attack them when they rise up in righteous anger. He is as hateful here as he was loveable in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2011).

A large battle is looming as Reid gradually wrestles with the reality that justice is little more than a figment of his law school imagination. In a sense, it was like being a defense lawyer in Indianapolis under our prior prosecutor, only to learn that he allegedly authorized the release of a convicted killer after receiving what appears to be a large campaign contribution. Maybe I should have followed the Lone Ranger’s lead and worn a mask into court.

So despite the film’s shortcomings, I strongly maintain that it provides a window into our ugly national past. Millions of roaming buffalo were nearly made extinct simply to get them out of the way of our future rail lines. Native Americans were viciously eliminated because this was now our land and not theirs.

I should also note that the magnificent dueling train chase seen at the conclusion of the film enthralled even the film’s harshest critics. Done to the “William Tell Overture,” it produced the same undeniable thrill that I felt as a kid watching the old series on TV.

So think young, embrace history and go see The Lone Ranger.

The Heat

Simply stated, this is the best female buddy picture since “Thelma and Louise” (1991). It is vulgar, profane and frequently hysterical beyond words. It’s as if modern science developed a way to combine the DNA of Mae West and W.C. Fields, resulting in the glorious Melissa McCarthy.

Written by Katie Dippold, director Paul Feig has brought us a delicious concoction that centers on a stressed out FBI agent and a maniacal Boston police officer. Sandra Bullock has never been better as the uptight federal agent, and Melissa McCarthy is the girl from another planet, a woman who views shame as a virtue.

Ms. Bullock’s agent, known as Ashburn, has been assigned to a Boston investigation by her New York superior simply to get her out of his hair. Desiring nothing but personal advancement, she has alienated all of her co-workers with her arrogance.

Unfortunately for her, she finds herself given Ms. McCarthy’s officer Mullins as a partner. Israel and Hamas have more in common than these two ladies.

rating-heat.gifPut another way, Ashburn operates by the book and Mullins has never read it. In scene after scene, Ms. McCarthy explodes with a toxic venom. While arresting a man for patronizing a prostitute, she calls his wife on his cell phone while crushing his knuckles with the other hand. She threatens to shoot a drug suspect in the scrotum if he won’t answer questions, firing a couple empty rounds just to test his resilience.

While Ms. Bullock looks on in complete horror, Ms. McCarthy ups her comic ante at every turn. In particular, there is an unforgettable scene where Mullins is forced to take Ashburn to meet her estranged family. It seems that one of her brothers just got out of prison, while the others consistently pepper Ashburn with such profound questions as, “Are you a man?” And when she gives the obvious answer, the next question is, “Did it happen at birth or did you have an operation?”

But don’t make the mistake that this is simply a comedy, as our odd couple continually flirts with disaster as they try to identify their drug target. People die, which nearly includes our duo, but nothing is going to remotely stop Mullins’ poisonous assaults on whoever is nearby, be they friend or foe.

Sure, as a lawyer it is sometimes difficult to overlook the ladies as they violate a citizen’s constitutional rights. On the other hand, we all know that objections are routinely sustained in a court of law, so I was more than willing to apply that same theory to our girls as they occasionally had to break into an apartment without a warrant.

Regardless, while Ms. Bullock is very good here, nothing compares to Ms. McCarthy. To use a favorite phrase, no one in the history of film, man or woman, has ever been this full of piss and vinegar. She is a walking volcano, eating poorly and dressing worse. Yet you can’t help but love her malicious intensity, and it is impossible to take your eyes off of her.•

__________

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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