Monthly Archives: June 2012

Marvel’s The Avengers — Movies for Lawyers — The Act Of Communication Point Of View

28 June 2012

From Katherine:

You are right. Not normally my kind of catharsis. When Alan suggested going to see The Avengers I thought that I might get a glimpse of the British TV Series from the 60s. Okay, I seriously had a hankering to see Diana Rigg wearing one of those fabulous Emma Peel outfits. No offense to your 1998 attempt, Uma, but in my heart I am still a young teenage girl with chubby thighs who actually believes she might some day have Diana’s legs.

My husband, sons, and daughters-in-law all loved it. SO. Go ahead and see it – it is a blockbuster and making a ton of money and it is the summer and you won’t have to think too hard and you will laugh a lot. There. Now – onto what you can learn from it as a lawyer…

All of the action and fight sequences are shot in tiny disjointed frames. The cool part about this is that it is totally reminiscent of comic book action sequences from Marvel comics… “Kablam!” “Pow!”…but without the words superimposed over the action. It also allows the very economical use of green screen shooting. This means the producers avoided the more expensive shooting of a whole battle scene at once from different angles.

Here’s the part I want you to pay attention to when you see the movie, though – it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to follow the story during this chopped up sequences. I kept thinking, “Who won? Who is winning? What is going on here anyway?” So true of trial stories as well – if you just offer a bunch of tiny “picture facts” that are detailed in and of themselves but don’t help a judge or juror get a big picture of what is going on, you are in big trouble. I kept thinking, “This kind of storytelling is what makes causation so difficult to either prove or disprove in a lawsuit.”

So eat your popcorn and enjoy. But if you follow every single one of those sequences then more power to you.

TIP: Is your trial story a bunch of chopped up bits or does it fit together into an easily understandable big picture?

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — Movies for Lawyers — The Act Of Communication Point Of View

7 June 2012

From Katherine:

Don’t you love it when a movie you’ve been dying to see is even better than you thought it was going to be? I DO. If you haven’t seen the amazing, brilliant and heart warming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel do so immediately! What is friendship? What is living for today? What is retirement? From what can you never escape, no matter how far you travel? To what can you escape – that you never knew you wanted or needed? Do these questions sound familiar? Want to experience the answers to them all in a fresh and delightful way? Get thee to a cinema where this feature is playing!

I know if you are a fan of British film and PBS Series, you will recognize your favorite stars who are all superb – Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, and a much admired newcomer amongst the old comers, Dev Patel. Did you love Shakespeare In Love? John Madden directed this one so skillfully, too.

Why should lawyers specifically see this piece? Lawyers are always and forever telling stories about people. In the world of the law, they are called clients and the mistaken people on the other side of your clients. Think of them as “characters” (as we would call them in the world of show business). Characters about whom you shape and form stories from real life. Often lawyers fall into describing characters in terms that are “stereotypes”. My favorite definition is “oversimplified conception”. The evil banker, the shy teller, the stalwart security guard could all be characters in a sexual harassment case. Stereotypes don’t ring true for jurors. But hovering several levels above in our great human story is a complete other group of characters – “archetypes”. My favorite definition is “image from collective unconscious”. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is filled with characters – each an archetype. Familiar but unique, they allow you to be sucked into their stories individually and the overarching story of the film flawlessly. This is exactly what lawyers need to do with their trial stories and their witnesses!

Putting the story of your case together right now? Think you have no time to go to the movies? You have no time not to go to the movies! What are you waiting for?

TIP: Are you describing your witnesses as archetypes or stereotypes?