On the Rocks

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Following the #MeToo explosion that rocked Hollywood and shone a bright light on the obstacles and inequities keeping women from getting ahead in the film industry, there has been a massive push to level the playing field, in front of and behind the camera, both for women and for people of color. The new inclusion rules laid out by the Academy and the addition of thousands of new artists to its membership are indications that Hollywood is serious about change. But there still is a lot of work to be done, particularly in positions of power behind the scenes, which are still heavily dominated by white men, most notably in the most central creative and powerful position in all of film, the feature film director.

But that’s not to say the landscape has been completely barren of women in the director’s chair prior to the #MeToo movement. There have been a few notable barrier breakers in the industry, and one of them is Sofia Coppola, a writer/director/producer who is only one of five women to have ever been nominated for the Best Director Oscar. At the time of her nomination, in 2004, for Lost in Translation, she was just the third woman ever to be nominated for Best Director. Since then, there have been two women nominated, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010 and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird in 2018. Bigelow is the only woman to have won Best Director so far.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7

History is doomed to repeat itself. If anyone thinks the ‘60s are behind us, they don’t know what it was about. The revolution that played out in the late ‘60s in this country was mobilized by the war in Vietnam, yes, but the undercurrent was racial, gender and class inequality. It was motivated by a government who abused the people it supposedly represented. And it inspired a movement of the people, by the people, to push the country to become more progressive and equal. Sound familiar?

In writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s newest treatise against tyranny, Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a powerful ensemble drama that spotlights one specific moment in this country’s history that just happens to have had ramifications that are still felt today. The 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago was a lightning rod for every anti-war and anti-government group that existed at the time. This included The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Youth International Party (“Yippies.”) The leaders of these groups, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, were iconic representations of American rebellion and unified together to assemble one massive protest at the convention. The resulting violence that erupted in Chicago that August was an inevitable result of the Chicago mayor’s insistence that the protests not interfere with the convention, so he mobilized an army of police and National Guardsmen to keep the protesters at bay. As a result, Hayden, Hoffman and Rubin, along with five others, including Black Panther leader Bobby Seale, who wasn’t even there, were put on trial, a trial that was clearly politically motivated and intended to re-assert the government’s control over the people.

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What To Watch Now

I know it’s hard, not being able to go to the movie theatres, but don’t despair! There are still many great movies available to watch at home, via your favorite streaming sites.

Here’s my helpful list of some of the movies worth your while, in case you’re looking for something to watch tonight:

DRAMAS:

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (coming October 16) (Netflix)—Based on real events and people, this is an excellent ensemble drama from Aaron Sorkin about the controversial trial of the men accused of inciting the riots outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. Stars Sasha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Frank Langella. If you care about the Oscars, watch this one early.

Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)—Director Spike Lee’s biting and emotional drama about four Vietnam vets who return to the country to collect treasure they hid when they were fighting there. The acting is phenomenal, especially Delroy Lindo, who will be remembered at Oscar time. As for Spike Lee, I didn’t love it as much as BlacKkKlansman, but Da 5 Bloods is really, really good.

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My Top 10 Movie Scores by Rock Stars

The 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was supposed to have taken place on May 2 in Cleveland but was postponed due to the pandemic. The ceremony will now be taking place virtually on November 7 and will air on HBO. One of this year’s inductees, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, is now a member of an exclusive club: musicians who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who have also won an Oscar. Reznor won his for writing the original score for The Social Network, which he wrote with Atticus Ross. Reznor might need to make even more room on his mantle after this year’s Oscars, considering he and Ross have also provided the music for two potential contenders, Pixar’s Soul and David Fincher’s Mank. Reznor might be the only person on the planet who’s actually having a good 2020.

In honor of Reznor’s achievements and well-deserved honor, I thought it might be fun to take a look at all the rock stars who have, like Reznor, turned their talents to movies after having first established themselves as musicians.

To narrow them down and make it totally subjective, here are my top 10 favorite movie scores that were composed by people who were or still are rock stars.

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