Thursday, 21 April 2016
T.V. REVIEW: THE PEOPLE vs OJ SIMPSON-AMERICAN CRIME STORY
Los Angeles Crimes
10 Episodes. Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, Nathan Lane, Bruce Greenwood, Jordana Brewster & Kenneth Choi.
Guilty pleasures don't come as darkly melodramatic as this...or do you object? 'The People vs OJ Simpson-American Crime Story'. How can we enjoy something like this? Are they really doing a show about this? About this man? A man who by all accounts except the one read by a jury of his "peers" is anything but the juice. But in regard to the controversy of the century lets leave divisive personal opinions out of this one. This is a review of a television show...not the justice system. You can imagine the team of bigwig Hollywood players in Los Angeles putting this one together. 'Let's get a big name to put his big bucks behind this production. How about John Travolta? It's been awhile since 'Face/Off' but the 'Saturday Night Fever' star still knows how to grease the industry wheels. Hey, maybe we could get him to play a few scenes in it! As a matter of fact speaking of the small screen what's David Schwimmer doing? We could cast him as a Kardashian that will make us more friends. How much have we got left? Enough to afford some underrated but acclaimed household names like Sarah Paulson and Bruce Greenwood? Maybe a 'Fast and Furious' star? After all this is L.A. Perhaps we could even get Nathan Lane to play it straight...now wouldn't thay be something? But who in the hell are we going to get to play O.J.? Wesley Snipes? Maybe he needs the money...but not the problems. How about Cuba?! Yeah Gooding Jr. He won an Oscar for playing an American Football player in 'Jerry Maguire'. He may just have the charisma to pull off the impossible'. Something like that? But alas let's not be so cynical. Sure it may not be as classic as 'The People vs Larry Flynt', but 'The People vs OJ' is one of the best shows on T.V. at the moment in this 'Making A Murderer' age. And this is from a furniture spud that has a hard time juggling 'Empire', 'Gotham' and 'Agents of SHIELD' on a Monday, all whilst trying to binge watch the latest season of 'Daredevil' like there's no tomorrow. What do you mean there's 50 episodes of 'House Of Cards' to catch up on? Where do they get the time to make all these shows...let alone us watch them?! But for all that is out there this is the one you should keep watching like everyone in the world did the trial back in the 90's. From the L.A. riots to a trial by corrupt fire that saw potentially the most criminal act of conviction walk away a free man due to doubts that are still sustained to this day as more than unreasonable. Think you know it all? Read more into it.
Courtroom dramas were the thing in the golden nineties entertainment era like 'The Firm', but now the 'American Crime Story' team are bringing it all back. But can we handle the truth? Because it looks like reality can't check it. Check this, based on the book of the same name 'The People vs OJ Simpson' will bring to light more evidence that will leave you with even more questions or disbelief that you can't beggar to believe were overuled. But as these plot points and twists come into play can we really enjoy this well made television "story" that well writes itself? Or is it more necessary viewing...in all the cases files of corruption and controversy. Especially in a time like the world we live in today. "Racism still alive, they just be concealing it". That's what controversial rap star/Mr. Kardashian, Kanye West said on his first album when he was just a College Dropout. But now all we care about is the life of Pablo's Yeezy's. Yet this race war was a trial that should have been more about the man and did he do it? And less about "the man" and what he was doing. But what did we just say about personal opinions on this matter? So lets leave the fiction behind. Fact is this take on the trial of the century is one of the best series' of the new milleniuum and we're already a decade and a half in of 'Sopranos' and 'Mad Men' through the wire. No matter what you think of O.J., Cuba Gooding Jr is perfect as Simpson. When the former NFL star was on the wide receival of more televisions being tuned into him than that famous yellow family he became one of the most recognisable faces in the world, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Now Gooding may not look a thing like O.J, but oh is he so good here. It's a transformation another way. Much more subtle than an impersonation. Its not physical...its psychological. It's not the gridiron experience of being shown the Maguire money. It's those lead worn eyes and all that comes out of the lids beneath them and that world worn, weary recognisable voice. All the rubbish his character spews or tries to recycle in his own mind. Cuba nails the crisis of O.J's inner conflictions, offset by his outer contradictions with undeniable conviction. He just fits.
Still he plays the shadows brilliantly in the background for another A-team of A-listers that make for the team behind or in front opposition of Simpson. He may be everyones focus, but he's not just the main focal point in this epic ensemble. You just have to love Courtney B. Vance as the most famous lawyer in the world, Johnnie Cochran. The star of 'The Preachers Wife' and Angela Bassett's husband looks and plays the part to the cufflink of his well manicured look and court starched suit. Compelling in his conversations with the court, cloaked in charm and charima, the man articulates with alliteration amazingly...alright?! Expect more letters handed to Vance, summoning B for more work. This show stealers Cochran is cocked and loaded with the reasons Simpson's lawyer knocked this one out the park for him, even the hypnotizing, ludicrous "you must acquit" mantra. The defence never rests. You wouldn't think the prosecution would stand a chance. But then from '12 Years A Slave' to 'Carol' you wouldn't ever accuse the maverick Sarah Paulson giving up without the good fight. Here she steps out of the stellar supporting stakes to lead counsel, clearing the bar. It's all about Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Still by her side is the incredible and inspired actor Sterling K. Brown who offsets Cochran's confidence with the fighting nerve of a man on the right side, trying to do that thing. All whilst almost everyone sees him wrong, or on the "white side". All because of an ignorance that fails to see that this case is more than black and white, but the actual black and white of what happened. Still amongst all those grey areas and dark times Brown performs and plays it all admirably. Anxiety hasn't been gut wrenched through the screen from the soul this heart deep and real since Trai Byers' emotion in 'Empire'. You can more than hear it in the solidarity stunted stammers of his voice. You can see it in his eyes, behind those glasses that magnify that very soul that will not waver. So many give their all to this trial which really captures everything about modern day America from then until now. Featuring Nathan Lane breaking free from the 'Birdcage' and heading in another direction, playing a man he or we should despise with defiant definition that subtely screams, "I'm going to show you how bad this really was and in a way still is"! There's also room for valuable veteran Bruce Greenwood on this roster with a spark off the desk of the D.A's office. And 'The First Avenger' and 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' player Kenneth Choi who plays judge to this jury with killer execution. Even petrol head Jordana Brewster shows she's no air head in her fast but fury filled screen time on the stand. This show isn't afraid to hit nitrus and bring out the big guns. From David Schwimmer's finest in years, Ross worn, aged but seasoned in his acting talent. Bold in loyalty and innocently beautifully bringing depth and of course drama to a Kardashian. To John Travolta, fake tanned and botoxed up to the Los Angeles lawyer type hilt he plays with different but dynamite distinction. Holding his elbow in his hand and clap working the other one as if to make the universal sign for bull####. His puncuated performance is anything but though. In this All Star role call of Hollywood's take on historic Los Angeles Times that tell you more than the tabloid stories say or should share. It's the people behind 'American Crime Story' vs an unjust world. First they took on the LAPD, next season it's how the American Government dealt with Hurricane Katrina. You're going to demand a retrial. There's a storm coming. TIM DAVID HARVEY.