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Klaus Maria Brandauer
In 1991 President G. H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, an African-American, for a position on the Supreme Court. A young law professor who had worked with him, Anita Hill, testified in an investigation that he had sexually harassed her. The allegations most remember are probably Thomas' asking bout a pubic hair on his can of Pepsi and he referring to a character named Long Dong Silver that he'd seen in a porn movie. Legal entanglements abounded, dominated by public relations. Thomas was confirmed.
The movie clearly takes the part of Anita Hill without storming the ramparts. She's shown as a quiet professor at the University of Oklahoma who was contacted by the press in a routine inquiry about Thomas' nomination. She told the reporter of her experiences after a promise that her name would never become public. The reporter made the entire incident public and the result was an investigation in which Thomas angrily declared that what was going on was nothing more than a "high tech lynching." At the time, it sounded plausible enough to me, but I thought, well, so what? I was more interested in his politics than his putting moves on some woman in the work place.
His politics and his performance as a judge didn't measure up. The American Bar Association denied him its highest ranking of "well qualified." Thomas claimed that he'd never had a conversation or given any thought to the controversial Roe vs. Wade decision. And since his appointment he's been invariably conservative and since 1998 has asked only one question from the bench. He's probably the least of our nine -- or rather eight -- Supreme Court Justices.
Yet he was confirmed by a narrow margin with bi-partisan votes. I was curious about the Dems who voted in his favor. Here are the states those Dems represented: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia.
It's too bad the movie makes such a pitiable suffering victim out of Anita Hill, although that's what she was. An attractive and intelligent black woman (Yale Law School) who may well have been subject to unwelcome and vulgar comments from her boss.
Still, she's certainly not Mother Theresa or Roma Downey. In the film she comes across as a stereotype, the harassed, betrayed, victimized woman. And the actress, Kerry Washington, is believable but no more than that. She has little range. She's not particularly INTERESTING and when she shouts something in anger it sounds acted.
As Clarence Thomas, Wendell Pierce is rather a blank coin. He denies everything. He's indignant. But he's even more of a cardboard cutout than Hill's character. His white wife, Alison Wright, stands staunchly by his side, showing no more animation than a figure in the President's Hall at Disney World.
The only casting choice that stands out is that of the usually forgettable Greg Kinnear, who is Joe Biden, chairman of the committee. He looks a little like the younger Biden but his voice -- deliberately or not -- bears an uncanny resemblance to Biden's.
Hill may be shown as put upon and Thomas as virtuous but if there is a man who clearly makes misjudgments, it's Joe Biden, who shuts down the inquiry before the witnesses have a chance to speak, and who does so because he's brow beaten into compliance by angry peers who want the whole blasted thing to disappear from the media because it's giving the Senate a bad rep.
On the whole it's inoffensive and a little bland. I guess that's better than white hot agitprop.
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