Image used under a Creative Commons license courtesy of Hamed Saber.
So, The Pelican Brief happened to be on television over the weekend, and I realized I’d only seen bits of pieces of it so I watched it. And what a pleasure! Great color saturation even on the crappy, non-HD television print! A young Stanley Tucci as a Middle Eastern assassin (he really is one of those guys, like Peter Dinklage, I think deserves more credit for his incredible, unconventional hotness)! A very young Cynthia Nixon as Julia Roberts’ law-school seatmate! Exteriors that look like they were actually shot in DC, totally authentic cabs, Denzel in a Howard t-shirt for a jog! But besides being a well-made thriller, the movie’s also an impressive reflection of its political climate, down to the smallest details. In the absurd, staged protest at the Supreme Court that opens the movie, Alan J. Pakula, who wrote, directed, and produced the movie snuck in a bunch of ACT-UP’s “Silence=Death” posters. In the opening law school sequence, the movie demonstrates Darby Shaw’s liberalism and independence by having her argue against Bowers v. Hardwick. Those two examples are a nice pushback of the semi-odd circumstances (and thread of homophobia) that have one of the Justices get assassinated in a porn theater. And it’s intriguing that the movie, released almost ten months after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, is still operating on a model of a lone terrorist (Middle Eastern, of course) who kills individual figures, rather than aiming for mass murder. Those details make the movie look a little antiquated 16 and change years later, even though the plot, murder over energy reserves, is the kind of thing the Brits might make a fabulous miniseries about.