Published on: January 18, 2019
I’m not entirely sure how Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became perhaps the most unlikely cultural hero of recent years. Maybe it is because she seems indomitable. Maybe it is because, despite strong policy disagreements, she forged a close friendship with the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, which said something good about our ability to transcend partisanship.
That said, she’s a singular figure … and an early episode in her legal career forms the central story of On The Basis of Sex
, which stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg. The movie starts as she enters Harvard Law School - one of just a few women who get in, though they are challenged on why they are taking spots that could go to men.
Later in her career - she’s teaching law at Rutgers because she’s been unable to get a job at a law firm - Ginsburg is presented with an opportunity to represent a man who has been denied certain benefits because he is a man; she takes the case, working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), because she realizes that taking down any law that creates boundaries on the basis of sex will bring down similar laws that discriminate against women.On The Basis of Sex
is, in my view, a great story, though not a great movie. While much of it is a paint-by-numbers biopic, the theme of the movie - that women were systematically discriminated against and denied equal opportunity by a system largely engineered by men looking to protect the status quo - is compelling and timely. Jones is terrific, and supported ably by Armie Hammer as her husband, Martin Ginsburg - he gets points in my book (and Mrs. Content Guys) for being the best…husband…ever. Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates, and Justin Theroux round out a strong supporting cast.
It is going to be a cold weekend in much of the country, so if you can, turn this into part of a double feature … and watch RBG
, the excellent documentary that came out last year about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For me, both films reinforced the notion that our governmental institutions can work and, in fact, do work much of the time. Sometimes it is painful and laborious and difficult, and sometimes the results are not everything that we would hope for. But they work, and that’s something.
“Star Trek: Discovery” returned last night on CBS All Access with its second season premiere, and while I liked the uneven (and sometimes too dark and dour) first season, the evidence to this point is that things are going to get even better this time around.
As Trek fans and devotees know, “Discovery” takes place about a decade before James T. Kirk took command of the USS Enterprise, and focuses on the Discovery, and focuses on Commander Michael Burnham, the ship’s Chief Science Officer. Burnham carries a lot of Trek myth-making baggage - played by Sonequa Martin-Green, she is the first lead character on a Trek series not to be the ship’s captain, and she’s also the first African-American woman to lead a Trek show (which always has had diversity as a core value). And, the character is the foster sister of Spock, who is legendary in the Star Trek universe.
The second season opener also brings back another Trek legend - Captain Christopher Pike, who preceded Kirk as the Enterprise’s commanding officer, now played with steely vigor and humor by Anson Mount - he’s great, and a great addition to the crew. Plus, comedian Tig Notaro shows up as a ship’s engineer, and she’s fabulous - sort of a combination of Leonard McCoy and Montgomery Scott, and just what the series needs.
We know that a young version of Spock (played by Ethan Peck, following in the footsteps and pointed ears of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto) will show up this season, and that, in coin a phrase, the Discovery will go in search of Spock, in addition to saving the known universe (of course). Unlike much of last season, it looks like they’re going to have some fun along the way … as will we.
Sign me up for the whole trip.
A wine to recommend this week - the 2017 Albariño from Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes, a lovely white wine that goes great with spicy seafood or chicken. Or even just a salad. Or by itself. (Let’s face it - I love albariño … it is one of my favorite white wines.)
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.