Monthly Archives: January 2013

Les Miserables — Movies for Lawyers — The Act Of Communication Point Of View

28 January 2013



When my mother asked me if she had to see Les Miserables on screen since she had already seen it 5 times on stage, I said, “God, no. I’ve seen it for both of us.” Many people who are big fans of the musical, like I am, were and are bitterly disappointed in the film version, which is getting all kinds of kudos and tons of Academy Award nominations. I am in the camp of the review Anthony Lane gave it in The New Yorker, “I screamed a scream as time went by.”

If you saw it and loved it, great. If you saw it and hated it, great. The important question here is, what can lawyers learn from it?

The most controversial performance in the film seems to be that of Russell Crowe who is taking a lot of heat for how much he, well, was less than stellar. Yes, no argument from me, he was ridiculous in the film. However, there is a great video of Crowe and Jackman, impromptu, singing some tunes that is making the rounds of social media amongst those of us who are what I guess you might call “Les Miz-ophiles.” Crowe is fabulous, free, and frankly, verges on brilliant at times. So how did director Tom Hooper squelch and stomp out the Russell Crowe from the bar?

It strikes me that he did it the same way many lawyers squelch the lifeblood and best testimony out of their witnesses and then throw them on the stand. “Do this, don’t do that! Be this, don’t be that! Say it like this, say it like that!” Compare and contrast the Crowe you see in the trailer of Les Miz (keeps you from having to sit through the whole thing) and the Crowe from the bar scene. Then ask yourself, “Do I do that to my witnesses?”

By the way, if you want to watch Les Miz sung and acted brilliantly in front of a camera, watch the 25th Anniversary Concert Performance. Knocks my socks off every time. Just like good lawyers are with their witnesses.


TIP:  Stop squelching your witnesses.

Lincoln — Movies for Lawyers — The Act Of Communication Point Of View

15 January 2013



Once again, the Golden Globes are over and it is Oscar season. Once again, I promise that Alan or I will try to comment on the contenders upon which we haven’t already commented in this blog. Once again, I promise you that there are movies that I have absolutely NO intention of seeing, despite their nominations (you know me and my proclivities regarding films that simply aren’t my kind of catharsis which include the entire cannon of Quentin Tarantino). If Alan decides to see any or all of the movies I simply can’t give up two hours of my limited time on this earth to see, then he can tell you about them. So be it!

Now…here’s one you CAN’T MISS.

Lincoln. Saw it on the big screen when it first came out. LOVED IT. Can’t stop loving it and thinking about it. When I was sitting in the darkened theatre and we were a few moments into it, I thought, “Oh, my GAWD. That’s what we are going to do with Mary Todd? Seriously, Tony?” By that I meant, “Seriously, Tony Kushner?” Tony Kushner is one of the truly brilliant writers alive today. I am completely blown away by everything he has written. He is one of those artists of whom I have said (out loud to my friends and family and written a few times in this blog), “I just feel so damned lucky to be alive at the same time so I can be surprised and thrilled by the new work as it comes along.” Other folks of other less enfranchised groups in these United States (yep, call me “Female”) have told me they had responses like, “Oh, my GAWD. That’s what we are going to do with Frederick Douglas? Seriously, Tony?” (yep, call them “African American”).

Here’s the beauty. Once I stepped back for a moment and stopped MY agenda for what THE story of this part of Lincoln’s presidency SHOULD be about…Kushner’s story came out loud and clear. This story of all these white men – all with power – making, at long last, a clear moral decision that was going to cause them to relinquish some of that power for the greater good.

And then I thought about all the wonderful attorneys who read this blog and who try so hard to find THE story of THE case that is going to win the day. With a bunch of people around them screaming the equivalent of, “GAWD! What about Mary Todd and Frederick Douglas?” Go see Lincoln. Not just because everything about it is simply extraordinary – it is – but to remind yourself that finding your way to the perfect simple story that will change and influence is not easy. But it is vital. And in the hands of a master like Tony Kushner, transcendent.


TIP: Is your trial story too broad, too encompassing or just right?