Streaming highlights October 23: The Trial Of The Chicago 7, The Undoing & Brave New World

TAKING SIDES: The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is a gripping legal drama with frightening parallels to modern America. Below, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in The Undoing.
TAKING SIDES: The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is a gripping legal drama with frightening parallels to modern America. Below, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in The Undoing.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Netflix

A CONSERVATIVE government intent on suppressing insurrection, political tensions between left and right escalating into bloody violence, police brutality and a black man bound and gagged by the authorities.

It sounds frighteningly familiar huh? Undoubtedly makers of legal drama The Trial Of The Chicago 7 scheduled the release of the film to coincide with the US Presidential election.

But even writer-director Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President, Moneyball) could not have foreseen how timely his film, about events half a century ago, would become through the political tensions created in the US by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Trial Of The Chicago 7 follows the violent protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the ringleaders' subsequent trial in 1969-70.

Courtroom dramas can often be bogged down in legal linguistics, but in Sorkin's capable hands the narrative is constantly propelled by tension. It doesn't hurt that Sorkin has assembled a stellar ensemble cast.

English actor Mark Rylance (BFG, Dunkirk) is fantastic as the wise-cracking defense lawyer William Kunstler and Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen unveils his serious acting chops as political activist Abbie Hoffman.

The film also features Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella and a cameo from Michael Keaton.

Tense, powerful and superbly acted. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is a must.

TROUBLED: Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in The Undoing.

TROUBLED: Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in The Undoing.

THE UNDOING

Binge

NICOLE Kidman successfully reinvented herself as a TV actress and executive producer with HBO mystery drama Big Little Lies in 2017. The Australian A-lister has decided to tap into her former show's familiar themes of deceit and financial power in her latest offering through HBO, The Undoing.

The six-part series follows psychologist Grace Fraser (Kidman) and her oncologist husband Mike (Hugh Grant). The couple are wealthy, successful and send their son to an exclusive New York school, Reardons. However, Grace's world crashes in when a young and attractive mother of a child from Reardons is found bludgeoned to death at the same time Mike mysteriously disappears.

The chemistry between Kidman and Grant is legitimate, which turns the murder mystery into a psychological drama. Some plot twists are predictable, but there's enough intrigue to make The Undoing an irresistible binge.

BRAVE NEW WORLD

Stan

STAGED: A scene from The Savage Lands in Brave New World.

STAGED: A scene from The Savage Lands in Brave New World.

ALDOUS Huxley's 1932 classic novel about a dystopian future where people are scientifically engineered and manipulated by pleasure-inducing drugs and sex has previously been made into two TV movies in 1980 and 1998.

Ridley Scott also contemplated taking the story to cinemas in 2009 before aborting the idea. This nine-episode adaption of Huxley's futuristic world of New London is certainly stylish and sleek, but a tad distant.

The scenes of rave parties and orgies are both gratuitous and startling, but Brave New World really gets interesting when the plot moves to The Savage Lands, a treacherous Disneyland modelled on white trash 20th century culture.