2018 Blind Spot Series: Philadelphia


What I knew going in: The story

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a lawyer who is wrongfully fired by his partners after they find out he has AIDS. He hires another lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) to defend him during his trial. Joe has to grapple with his own homophobia as he gets to know Andrew and fights for justice. 

I love courtroom dramas. I haven't came across many that I didn't like and thankfully this didn't go that route either. I do think it played it rather safe. There are better films out there that address the AIDS crisis within the gay community. I feel like the filmmakers really wanted to touch on it, but were too afraid of how the public would take it.

Tom Hanks is wonderful in this. You can see the pain in his eyes throughout. Denzel also brings his A game. Sometimes I wanted to laugh with Joe, and others I wanted to scream at him. He could've easily been completely unlikable but Denzel never lets it get to that. 

This film however has some pretty major faults. The first is that Andy and Joe are really the only fleshed out characters. Everyone else feels like a caricature. Scowling lawyer, asshole boss, sexy lover. No one else felt like they had a personality. I also found the constant close ups of the actors' faces to be completely distracting. Everyone made fun of Tom Hooper for doing that in Les Miserables but this one felt way more excessive. Still, aside from that I enjoyed this film and as always, I'm glad I got around to it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Explain this to me like I'm a four year old." - Joe Miller (Denzel Washington)

12 comments:

  1. It is a good movie as Tom Hanks was great but I think Denzel Washington was much better as he had a better character arc and goes through a transformation in the film.

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    1. I think they were pretty equal, I give Hanks the edge because he had the heavier lifting.

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  2. This is a good movie and better than I thought it would be. I think the hype and Tom Hanks Oscar speech made me not want to see it but I am glad I did finally.

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    1. It is a good, but I really really dislike the way it was shot. lol

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  3. Honestly, I didn't think this one aged all that well. The performances were very good, but holy shit when did 1993 become 1983?

    Oh, and what was with that opera scene? Strange, no?

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    1. That's a good point, it does feel older than 93 now that I look back on it.

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  4. A B- feels exactly right; it's good, but has a LOT of problems. I don't even like Hanks's performance all that much, and I L-O-V-E him in general. THANK YOU for calling out the excessive close-ups, I remember that really annoying me when I saw it.

    Unfortunately, I think Philadelphia is mostly a relic now - it's more interesting to look at and see how Hollywood dealt with gays and the AIDS crisis in 1993 than it is as a movie.

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    1. This really made me appreciate something like A Normal Heart and even Longtime Companion more. They really went for it whereas this played it so safe.

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  5. I can't remember much from it to be honest, but I recall Hanks and Denzel being the driving forces in Philadelphia, with very intense and emotional performances.

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    1. They certainly are, no one else is developed enough. lol

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  6. God I HATED THIS MOVIE!!!!! I went into it fully expecting to at least like it but it made me see red. They pull together this amazing cast and waste them on an utter piece of drivel.

    First off Hanks's family, he lays all this stuff on them which is sure to rock their worlds in unknowable ways and all they can say is "We're behind you"! What the HELL! Not a single question or thought about "How will this affect me or all of us"? So false and cardboard. I mean they get Joanne freaking Woodward to play his mother and the best the writer can do is hand her platitudes? Grrrr!!!

    But then it similarly wasted Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen and practically everyone else-the film is a banquet of wasted opportunities. Your point about the close-ups is so true. They didn't give most of the cast anything to do but we sure got a good look at them not doing it!

    Then the main story wasn't even Hanks's really but how Washington became less of an asshole through dealing with his case. Who cares! I know I didn't care that this prick got all the feels because he actually took the time to do his damn job and get to know his client.

    I usually like Tom Hanks but thought much of his performance was a mushy mess. That damn opera scene was not only cliche and a stereotype it was annoyingly overacted. I almost quit the film right there but some streak of masochism must have kicked in and I endured it to the very bitter end wishing that I was anywhere else.

    Having seen really worthwhile films before it such as "Longtime Companion" and "An Early Frost" this preachy pile of garbage felt like a huge step backward and its mystifying fame made it hard for much better films that came after like "It's My Party" to attract the attention they deserved because studios felt like the ground had already been covered (very badly).

    Let me repeat "I HATED THIS MOVIE!!!!"

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    1. lol I remember you saying you hated this. I understand for sure, especially the part where no one else is developed. I've seen Longtime Companion too and I agree that movie handled the AIDS topic far better, and that was a film that started out looking like the biggest 80's gay stereotype I've ever seen.

      I didn't hate it like you did, but I definitely expected more from it.

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