Dave White
Chicago 10 Review

Dave's Rating:

4.5

… you'll always be fascinated and freaked-out …

Who's in It: The voices of Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber, James Urbaniak, Jeffrey Wright

The Basics: The circus-like trial of what has usually been called the "Chicago 7" gets a bit of number-updating (there were actually eight men on trial: Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner and Black Panther member Bobby Seale, who was eventually severed from the case and charged with contempt along with the defense lawyers) and de-historicizing. The insanity and violence surrounding the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is shown here as part documentary, part animated retelling with the intention of drawing parallels to now. I know, tall order.

What's the Deal? See, I was still practically in diapers when all this stuff actually happened, so I might not be the best guy to pontificate on how much the tone and proportion and are in or out of whack. Go find a baby boomer for that. Or just read Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I can say, however, that the whole late-'60s-upheaval-as-metaphor-for-the-Dubya-Years works pretty well. The country was a mess then; it's a mess now. In other words, if you're not depressed enough about the state of the country, you'll be even more bummed after watching this, because back then there was at least some sort of organized mass counterculture.

What's Weird About It: The very thing that makes it relevant, how it just presents lots of noise and horror without a corresponding context. You're never history-lessoned into numbness, always fascinated and freaked-out (especially when you remember that the animated portion's dialogue and action are taken from court transcripts and that Seale was literally bound and gagged at the judge's request), and the movie stays exciting, but you wonder what you're not getting as they pick and choose what to show you and replace period music with Eminem tracks.

Go Back and Watch: Medium Cool, about the same thing but which came out in 1969.

What's Coming Next: Apparently Steven Spielberg wants to dramatize these events, too. So, if you want a place to start that will at least be less reductive than what we'll inevitably get from him, then check this out.

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